Weekend Trip to Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier National Park Camp Trip

A few weeks ago I was speaking with AJ about how we have not visited a National Park all summer long.

This is unusual for us as we normally do at least one a month during the warmer months. So with Fall rolling into the PNW, we decided we needed to take a trip to the closest National Park we could find, which happened to be Mt Rainier! We texted our friends and got a big group together, so we planned out two cars. To make things easier to understand for the rest of the story I am going to list our group according to car.

Car 1: Nic, AJ(girl), Austin

Car 2: Marcus, Brooke, AJ(guy), Elliot, Kiara

AJ had work until about 5:30, so we planned with our group and decided on a departure of around 6 PM. 6 rolled around and we found that no one was ready and the other driver, my good friend Marcus, didn’t even have his car. The plan quickly diminished and we ended up leaving Hood River around 8 PM with two cars packed full of gear and people, which made for a really incredible night drive through the forest. Half of the drive to the Park was on this old forest dirt road, a little creepy but honestly really amazing!  The group ended up getting to what we thought was going to be our camping spot around 11 PM, we quickly realized this was not going to work as it was occupied by someone who looked to be living there full time. The whole group thought it best to leave this guy alone, so we drove about 10 minutes further down the road and ended up pulling off the road into this perfect (free) little camping area. We set up camp, cracked open some beers and admired the night sky. Sharing stories and laughing, excited for what the next day would bring.

Mt Rainier National Park Camping
Photo By: Marcus Catlett

We woke the next morning to a beautiful sky blue river we had heard the night before. Cooked up some breakfast and headed to the into Mt Rainier National Park! We finally got to use our National Parks pass after months of it just sitting in my wallet. We didn’t have anything planned really. The agenda was mostly, let’s drive through the park and if we see something cool let’s pull over. Our first major stop was Christine Waterfall. Beautiful waters, complimented by this Stone Bridge arching perfectly over the falls. This is one of my two must see’s in the park.

Christine Waterfall Mt Rainier
Photo By: Nic Carnazzo

Though an amazing site, this was the point where we car 2, led by Marcus, they kept driving when we stopped to look at the falls. They continued on thinking we had kept driving as well. So they had a different story to tell. They eventually stopped at what Marcus described as the most underwhelming hike in the park. He didn’t even bother to catch the name, he did, however, manage to snap some amazing photos. Though the destination of their unknowing voyage was disappointing the sites and company was what made it an amazing hike! Marcus describe the forest as these tall trees with no overgrowth so you could see very far through the woods. There was an eerie emptiness they felt but the banter of the group kept spirits high and they managed to have a great time.

Mt Rainier National Park Hike
Photo By: Marcus Catlett
Mt Rainier National Park Cabin
Photo By: Marcus Catlett

While the other group wandered through the forest AJ, our good friend Austin and I visited my second must-see, the Sunrise Viewpoint! This spot is pretty much at the highest point in the road, you can continue up this road to the Sunrise visitor center, but the only cool thing about the lodge was the McLaren parked out front. Back to the viewpoint, you could see over the entire valley with Mt Rainer as a colossal backdrop. Unfortunately for us, rain clouds and fog had begun to roll in and we didn’t get much of a view. Still very worth it.

Sunrise Viewpoint Mt Rainier
Photo By: Nic Carnazzo

As the day winded down we all managed to meet back up at this tiny diner in a small town called Randle. This proved to be a really exciting end to the day. What looked to be a homeless man stirred up quite a bit of trouble and ended up getting in a fight with two local cowboy types! No one was hurt and the cops ended up coming, but it sounded like we got to see one of this town’s most exciting events of the year. Though Mt Rainer is not the most spectacular of National Parks, it is a must see. Pack the car up and get on the road!

As always, please feel free to comment with any questions or contact us here! Until next time.

– Nic

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