Entering Washington State was a game changer for us. Mt.Rainier, St.Helen, Olympic National Park and Mt.Baker were not originally in plan. But, how can you go to Washington and not visit these amazing parks. This means we are cutting down on Arizona and/or UTAH may be. Let’s see.
Our GPS picked up East Entrance to Mt.Rainier as the closest one from Diamond Lake, and it turned out that we ended up in Sunrise section of the Mt.Rainier National Park and found a campsite at White River Campsite. Given that it was the long weekend, I was concerned about availability. But, Sunset side of the park seems more accommodating to the last minute campers.
Later we realized that Sunset side is one of the best kept secrets of the park. Majority of the visitors go to Paradise side for the view. No, denying the view at Paradise side is stunning, but sunset side is more secluded.
From the sunset campsite there were plenty of short hikes including the ones to Emmons Glacier. In mid july there were still plenty of snow on the trails and it gets tricky to hike them without proper hiking boots.
We hiked around the trails in the Emmons Glacier area for about 9-miles before moving on to the Paradise side.
While hiking a tiny part of Wonderland trail, which goes around the mountain for 93-miles, we came across a few backpackers. A 5-minute conversation with them, we decided to climb Mount St.Helen the next day.
Be prepared for cold night at campsites. Proximity to the glaciers, and rivers lead to windy and cold nights. I had to get 3-layers of clothing on to get a decent warmth in mid of July.
– Sunset side of the park is more secluded with plenty of beautiful trails and campsites. Consider camping here as Paradise camp sites get booked up for months in advance.
– Be prepared for cold nights in the summer.
– Plan to spend at least 3-days to get a glimpse of this massive park.
– If you are up for it, sign up with an outfitter and climb the majestic Mt. Rainier at 14,409 ft.
Hikes we did:
– Sunrise Nature Trail (1.5 mi/2.4 km)
– Emmons Vista Overlooks (1 mi/1.6 km)
– Frozen Lake Loop Trail (3 mi/4.8 km)
– Shadow Lake Loop (3 mi/4.8km)