There’s little debate about the beauty one encounters while exploring the Pacific Northwest during the spring months. Some might even say that Mt. Rainier is at its most stunning during the pre-summer months, and visitors from all over the world can find an endless number of activities and areas to explore as winter recedes.
If you are planning a trip to the mountain now that the weather is warming, consider filling your itinerary with some of the following adventures.
Get the most out of National Park Week
National Park Week begins on Saturday, April 21 and ends on Sunday, April 29. Entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park is free during this week and the Henry M Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise is open providing patrons with all of the information and guides they need to enjoy the mountain. The center also offers food for tired and hungry travelers and gifts and souvenirs to take home to loved ones.
This week is the perfect time to take in the magnificence of the area with lowland hikes thawing and drying out for on-foot exploration and higher elevations still potentially snowy and only accessible with the proper traction devices on your vehicle.
photo: Matt Bell via flicker
Go on a Trek
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park gives visitors a unique opportunity to relax while exploring the area’s landscape and wildlife during the spring season. You can go on a Discovery Tram Tour through their 435 acres of meadows and forests where you’ll come face to face with the natural inhabitance. Prepare to meet a moose, elk, or bison—and don’t forget to bring your camera.
If you are bringing the kids, there’s a Kid’s Trek, which is a giant play area where young adventurers can climb through a giant tree trunk, build forts and play for hours. Additional activities include an array of zip line tours, animal walking tours, and a family discovery center where you can learn about everything you see and experience in depth.
Northwest Trek is throwing a Spring Fling on the weekend of April 7 – 8 that gives visitors the opportunity to have awesome encounters with their animals (even bears), learn to do Pacific Northwesty things like foraging for wild foods, and get crafty!
Visit them online for details: nwtrek.org
Hit the Trails
You simply can’t go to Mt. Rainier without hitting the trails. The snow may still blanket higher elevations but lowland trails are drying out and perfect for a spring hike. Make sure to pack your rain gear. Things can get unexpectedly wet even on the sunniest of days.
Consider adding these hikes to your spring outing itinerary:
Melmont Ghost Town: This hike is in the Carbon River Area and it is appropriate for all ages and skill levels. This route takes you along an abandoned railroad grade to Melmont, a ghost town with plenty of history and lots of cool features to explore. Find out more about this hike here.
Trail of the Shadows: Another easy trail, perfect for families and hikers of all abilities, the Trail of the Shadows is in the Longmire area. The trail begins across from the National Park Inn and makes a loop that has area markers with descriptions along the way. You will be taken in and out of the woods and wander by Rusty Springs and across footbridges on a beautiful journey. Find out more about this hike here.
Rampart Ridge: This moderate route climbs steeply through the woods and gives hikers stunning glimpses of the Nisqually River. The 4.6-mile loop takes you beneath the forest canopy and swings by several viewpoints and resting areas perfect for snapping photos and picnicking. Don’t forget to pack snacks; you are sure to work up an appetite on this trek. Find out more about this hike here.
Mt. Rainier has tons of activities and adventures to offer visitors year-round, but a visit during the spring months is special. Whether you spend your trip hiking, getting up close and personal with the local wildlife, taking scenic drives, or just relaxing in at in and around your cabin, you are bound to have unparalleled experiences that will create memories that last a lifetime.