Spring & Early Summer at Mt. Rainier National Park
NOTE: As of April 23, 2017, Cayuse Pass (Highway 123) and Chinook Pass (Highway 410) are still closed. We expect Cayuse Pass to open by mid-May (if not sooner) and Chinook Pass to open by Memorial Day. At this point, you can walk or ride bikes into the National Park but there is no car access from this side.
The Spring and Early Summer are fabulous times to visit Mt. Rainier National Park. You're before the summer crowds, so you'll often feel like you have the trails to yourselves -- and it's a much more authentic Pacific Northwest experience.
If you're planning to visit from late-June through September, please visit our Summer Activities page.
There are lots of snow-free trails at the lower elevation to explore, but expect snow as you climb. We have lots of maps and suggestions in our office when you check in, as we want you to love this area as much as we do. Keep in mind that one of the things we love most about "our" side of Mt. Rainier is the fact that this whole area is either national forest or national park -- so no matter where you go, you'll have a true mountain experience.
Available when Highway 410 to Highway 123 (Cayuse Pass) opens:
- The Ohanapecosh area is just about 25 minutes south of here, and has the Park's largest volume waterfall (Silver Falls) and a beautiful grove of 1000-year old trees (The Grove of the Patriarchs).
- The Crystal Lakes trailhead is about 4 miles from here and is a popular trail with locals. Great views of Mt. Rainier along the way, but quite a bit of elevation gain.
- We love the Lower Eastside Trail with waterfall after waterfall after waterfall. We usually use the trailhead near Deer Creek and hike south towards the Ohanapecosh.
Available when Chinook Pass (Highway 410 to/from Eastern Washington) opens:
We love going up to Chinook Pass in the spring for snowshoeing, sledding and playing in the snow! Check out the separate section in spring activities for lots of ideas. Oh, by the way, the views of Mt. Rainier from Chinook Pass are incredible! The trail to Sheep Lake tends to melt out quickly.
Available when the Sunrise Road to the White River Campground (half way up) opens (usually by Memorial Day weekend):
- From the Campground, explore the Emmons Moraine Trail (mostly snow-free) or continue further to explore Glacier Basin. This is the route climbers take from this side, with great views of Mt. Rainier and the White River.
- From the Campground, you can also hike up to Sunrise (about 3.5 miles each way) via the Wonderland Trail.
- We also like to ride our road bikes from the White River Campground up to Sunrise before the road to the top opens. No traffic, lots of wildlife and gorgeous views. But it is a thigh-burner! Click here for some pictures from our ride from May 22.
- On the way to the White River Campground, you'll pass trailheads for Owyhigh Lakes and Summerland. Owyhigh Lakes is a beautiful trail -- no mountain views but gorgeous lakes. Summerland is considered a classic trail and people come from around the world just to hike it. There will be a lot of snow at higher elevations so be prepared.
The Stevens Canyon Road typically opens by Memorial day weekend: The hiking is better on this side, as Paradise tends to get quite a bit more snow than our side. But the drive to Paradise is gorgeous, through Stevens Canyon & Box Canyon.
The road to the top of Sunrise is scheduled to open July 1 if not sooner. Communities on this side of Mt. Rainier are working with Mt. Rainier National Park to try to get this road open as soon as possible. We are hopeful for an earlier opening.