Spring break 2017: Washington’s momentous Mount Rainier

For something that we see every day from our car windows, the number of people who have visited Mount Rainier is quite low. Out of the 30 people we spoke to, only 10 said that they’ve gone to the vast mountain. Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in Washington and is located a mere 54 miles from Seattle. It is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world and if it were to erupt, Puyallup valley, Seattle and everything in between would be in danger.

The mountain is open year round and offers visitors a variety of things to do such as bicycling, camping, hiking and fishing. For those looking for a short vacation, Mount Rainier is a great place to spend a day or two during your spring break. It’s the best place to go for those ready to take a few days off but who can’t commit to a longer vacation.

Bicycling is allowed on all roads in the park and on trails that specify it. There are roads for the amateur and professional cyclist alike to enjoy a scenic route. Mowich Lake Road is one such trail that leads to a subalpine lake. It is a 5-mile dirt road and it can have rough conditions. Another trail to look at is the Carbon River Road, located in the northwest corner of the park, which is only open to pedestrians and bicyclists. It is also around 5 miles long and leads to Ipsut Creek Campground. It is best to check the condition of these trails before taking off for the day as trails can close in inclement weather conditions.

Another fun activity in the park is hiking. For those interested in a day hike, Mount Rainier has numerous maintained trails. Pets and bicyclists are not permitted on these roads, so it’s best to leave your furry friend at home. One day trail to look at is the Trail of the Shadows where visitors can see a homestead cabin and get a glimpse of the natural plants and wildlife in that area. The trail itself is around 0.7 miles and takes less than an hour to complete. Another popular trail is the Bench and Snow Lakes Trail, which is significantly longer at 2.5 miles, but offers hikers views of not one, but two lakes.

For those interested in longer hikes and overnighters, a permit is required to spend the night in the park. Permits can be obtained online depending on availability and weather for around $20. Camping overnight is one of the more family-friendly activities available in the park. Pets are welcome on campsites, but they must be put in a cage or kept on a leash at all times. Be sure to check the weather and the regulations before camping in the park.

For those looking for a calmer, more relaxed day, be sure to try fishing. The park isn’t known for fishing, so don’t expect to go home with a bass as tall as you are, but it can still be a fun experience. You may even get to see one of the endangered species that reside in the waters of this area — these will have to be caught and released, however. While lakes and ponds are open all year, it’s best to check the schedule for rivers and streams before planning a fishing trip in the park because they are sometimes off-limits for fishing. This activity offers many visitors a day of rest, lulling around, and maybe a family picnic — although you do have to bring your own food as cleaning fish is not allowed in the park.

Mount Rainier offers a variety of family-friendly activities year round and spring break is the perfect time to take advantage of them. The sites are incredibly photogenic and guarantee a good time. For people interested in spending time outdoors, Mount Rainier is the best place to spend your break.

COURTESY OF WALTER SIEGMUND

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