How to fit Mount Rainier National Park in a Seattle Trip

This weekender trip features how to fit Mount Rainier National Park in a Seattle trip! Have plans to visit Seattle? Don’t miss out on my favorite National Park in the U.S. #FindYourPark

Mount Rainier is my favorite National Park because I used to go there with my mom. (I lived in Puyallup WA for about five years.)

My mom used to trick us into getting in the car (under the guise of grabbing some take out), then would end up driving us up to Mount Rainier for a whole day! Being a Jr. High kid…I was a big whiner about it. When I was pouting on one of these trips my mom rolled down the windows and blasted the “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria” song on our car speakers until it echoed off the mountains. It didn’t help.

Now that I am an adult, I look back and appreciate her efforts to get outside with her kids. So – if you have kids that are a bit whiny about getting outside – don’t worry. They will probably look back and appreciate it when they are older!

Mount Rainier National Park Itenerary
In the roots of giant tree on the trail Grove of the Patriarchs at Mount Rainier National Park!

Ok: so back to Mount Rainier!

We devoted an entire day to Mount Rainier National Park when we were in Seattle visiting family. I knew I had to show this place to Zach no matter what, so we crammed it in our weekend trip!

Where to stay: Zach and I love staying at airbnb locations! If you sign up for a free account through the image below, you can get $27 free travel credit! 



Mount Rainier National Park
Christine Falls at Mount Rainier National Park

Driving from Seattle to the park took about 1 hour 47 minutes.

Since I had previously visited Mount Rainier, I created a custom driving loop of my favorite locations inside the park. I included the custom driving loop with coordinates at the bottom of this post. If you don’t want to use my custom loop then use the visitor info on the park site here.

Zach and Maria with Mount Rainier in the distance! This was taken on the Box Canyon trail at Mount Rainier.

You are going to want to pack food for your day trip to Mount Rainier – there are tons of great spots to stop and have a picnic.

We also really enjoyed the visitors center at this park! I’m still regretting not getting a shirt when I was there…they had the best souvenirs I have seen in a visitors center!

Mount Rainier National Park
Prettiest rivers I have ever seen! I believe this one was called the Ohanapecosh river at Mount Rainier National Park!

Can we take a moment to appreciate just how gorgeous the water is at Mount Rainier? I felt like I was visiting Rivendell. (LOTR fans?)


Mount Rainier National Park Box Canyon
Box Canyon in Mount Rainier National Park! The photo does not do this justice! This was Zach’s favorite stop when we did Mount Rainier!

In our family, a trip just isn’t complete without visiting the nearby National Park. Zach and I have a life bucket list to hit the major National Parks in the U.S. I would love to go back again and check out some of the other National Parks in Washington!

Keep your eye out for more National Park features on Wanderookie! We plan on including a new one in our “Park Hopper” Weekender section about 1-2 a year. Later this summer we will be featuring Yellowstone National Park! (Another one of my favorites!)

If you need advice on things to see in Seattle or Mount Rainier, let me know in the comments! 

Maria’s customized scenic loop of Mount Rainier National Park with GPS Coordinates:


Red: See note below

Enter Mount Rainier National Park

Stop One: Skookum Falls @47.050037,-121.576209

Stop Two: Sunrise Side Trip @46.915331,-121.535879

          Hike: Sourdough Ridge Trail, 1 mile loop (North side of Sunrise parking area)

Stop Three: Grove of the Patriarchs @46.764971,-121.556382

          Hike: 1.3 miles (Just west of the Stevens Canyon entrance station)

Stop Four: Box Canyon @46.765574,-121.634531

Stop Five: Reflection Lakes @46.768337,-121.730769

Stop Six: Narada Falls @46.775215,-121.745253

Stop Seven: Paradise Side Trip @46.779021,-121.739545

           Hike: Nisqually Vista Trail, 1.2 miles (West end of the lower parking lot.)

Stop Eight: Christine Falls @46.780755,-121.778598

Exit Park and Head back to Seattle Hotel!

Important Note: A few of the short hiking trails at Mount Rainier were closed because they still had snow cover (Sourdough Ridge Trail, Nisqually Vista Trail). Plan your trip for July or August if you want to avoid this, but note we did a lot without those trails being open, anyway. ( I included those trail in the scenic drive loop above just in case you are visiting in July or August.)