First of all, let me disclaim and say that this is a park I definitely could have planned better. When I originally was planning the Epic Road Trip, we had planned on having 12+ people and I had figured out that it would be cheaper for a group that large to stay in group campsites. There are only two campgrounds in Rainier with group sites, and one of those had its group sites closed for some renovation. So I only had one option, Ohanapecosh, and I got a little zeroed in on that, even after we dropped to few enough people to only warrant 2 individual sites per night. I’ll be honest that if I could go back and do it again, I would’ve opted to stay at the Cougar Rock campground and spent our time in the Paradise area of the park instead of what we did. That’s not to say that what we did was bad, in fact our campsite at Ohanapecosh was my second favorite of the trip (after North Cascades) and what we explored was wonderful, but I think we might have gotten a more rich Rainier experience had we camped and explored closer to the mountain itself.
Regardless, it was amazing (even if we DID almost run out of gas, eek! My bad). We had a couple of beautiful campsites in a gorgeous campground right by the river, and after a lazy morning of wandering around there and having breakfast we headed out to the Grove of the Patriarchs. It was awe-inspiring to see such enormous trees, protected from forest fires by being on an island in the middle of the river. It’s tough to really capture the scope of trees that large in mere photographs, but they were giant almost beyond imagination.
After that, we headed to do a hike touted somewhere as one of the best hikes to view Mt Rainier from. Sadly, it was wrong. I don’t want to make it sound like this park was a complete flop, because it absolutely wasn’t, but it definitely didn’t go the way I had anticipated. We still got good views and had a fun relaxing lunch at Tipsoo Lake. The one thing I will say about Rainier is that it’s MASSIVE. Oh my goodness, it’s so huge! It was really cool to see a mountain that enormous, even from far away.
After that it was off to the Oregon Coast and eventually our last park of the trip, Crater Lake!
Our Mount Rainier National Park “Must Do”:
It’s hard to have a “must do” when we only got the briefest snippet of the park, but honestly, Grove of the Patriarchs was REALLY cool. I personally can never resist enormous trees. Photographs just never do them any justice! It was a really neat area of the park that I doubt many even bother to visit, but it definitely belongs on your list.
You can also check out our review of Ohanapecosh Campground here.