Adventuring with kids: A weekend near Mt Rainier!

Mt Rainier has been on my bucket list ever since we moved to Seattle. Or actually, it may have been on my bucket list before we moved to the PNW. On summer days it can be seen in the background, overlooking the city of Seattle, and it is just stunning. Truly, she’s a thing of beauty. I can’t believe it took us almost 3 years to see her up close.

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

But this past weekend we went camping near the MRNP (Mount Rainier National Park) and it was every bit as fun as I thought it would be.

Here is what we did for a weekend in MRNP (with toddlers), should you decide to do something similar:

  • We stayed at Silver Springs Campground.
    • Pros: good location near hiking, running water, big camp sites, lots of trees and shade, great roads and paths to ride bikes on within the campgound, can bring dogs (because it’s not in MRNP).
    • Cons: Located directly off a highway (that our particular site backed up to) – which means there was car noise, there are no hikes accessed without driving somewhere, it’s not located in the actual park, no showers.
    • That all being said… I would definitely stay here again! We were in sites 53 & 55, and we fit three families/tents comfortably. And while we did hear road noise, it wasn’t awful. There are some great tent spots near the river, but that made me nervous with toddlers… but something to keep in mind for next time!

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

  • One morning we hiked Naches Peak Loop, which was an excellent hike for us! The little legs of our family only made it about a mile, but it was only a 3 mile hike, so it wasn’t too bad to carry them the rest of the way. The only thing I will say is that the bugs were awful and I am still covered in mosquito bites. The views, however, made it very, very worth it. This is a must-do, in my opinion. (And as a plus, no pass is needed for the parking lot access at Tipsoo Lake!)

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park! Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

  • That afternoon we rode the gondola at Crystal Mountain. The girls absolutely LOVED the ride, but could not have cared less about the (gorgeous) view. At first I didn’t think the price would be worth it, but we really enjoyed our time there, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others, especially if you have young ones and need an afternoon activity before dinner time!
  • The next morning we did the Sheep Lake hike, which was another great one! This hike was beautiful because some of it was on a ridge, and some of it was in a forest. Then, it ended at a beautiful alpine lake. The best part of the lake was that it had an easy entry for toddlers, and grass all around it! Sometimes alpine lakes are super rocky or have steep banks all around it or have too many trees to make it easy to get in. This, however, was perfect, albeit a little chilly! We brought our lunch and all had a little picnic before heading the 2 miles back to the car.

Weekend trip from Seattle: Mt Rainier National Park!

  • On our final morning near Mt Rainier, we drove to the Sunrise Visitor Center where we saw the mountain up close and personal, and had a picnic near the stunning views. We also went into the visitor center to learn a bit about the area. This drive was so pretty and I thought it was well worth the extra minutes it took to drive there.

Other info: It’s about $30 per vehicle to get a day pass to the National Park, so we bought the America The Beautiful Pass which gets us into all national parks (I think?) and also is combined with the Northwest Forest Pass, which is a pass we use all of the time for hiking. If you live and hike in Washington, I strongly suggest you get the America The Beautiful Pass so you can get into Rainier National Park and the Olympic National Park.

I cannot wait to go back next summer and explore more of the hikes in that area!

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11 Responses to Adventuring with kids: A weekend near Mt Rainier!

  1. these pictures are GORGEOUS!

  2. Mt. Rainier is so beautiful! She’s definitely my favorite mountain. It’s always such a treat when I see her when I’m in Seattle (especially the past few times, since my trips over the last 10 years or so have more often been in the fall/winter than in the summer). We went to the park itself I believe in 2001, and I remember particularly liking it because there was still snow on the ground and it was either June or July. One of these days I’ll have to go out during the summer again and visit the park!

    • Lisa says:

      It’s amazing how you can’t see Rainier at all during the winter and in the summer she seems so huge and you can easily see her! Definitely go back to the park in July… in August there might be smoke obscuring the awesome views and in June there will still be snow.

  3. I canNOT get over your pictures. You’re cultivating such a love for nature and the outdoors with your girls! What a wonderful way to spend time as a family!

  4. Lisa says:

    Hi Allie! Honestly we didn’t spend much time at Crystal Mountain, because we were just filling up some time between lunch and dinner and our campsite was pretty near there. The girls’ favorite part of the experience was the gondola ride up and down. There is a snack bar at the top, as well as the restaurant, but I didn’t think my two toddlers could sit long enough to enjoy that experience! We did see people hiking around, which seemed fun, but we chose to hike other trails during the morning and so just relaxed on the chairs overlooking Mt Rainier once we got up to the top of the gondola, and then we just spent a few minutes walking around and headed back down. It was a little chilly and windy up there so be prepared for that! You could also pack a picnic lunch, because there are tables up there to eat at!

  5. The America the Beautiful pass is good for all National Park properties! We’ve had one every year since 2012, and we love it.

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