Located 100 miles southeast of Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park is situated in one of the most rugged areas of Washington state. At 14,410 feet, the namesake mountain towers over the park; and not only is this active volcano the most glaciated peak in the contiguous US, but it’s also a popular climb, with over 10,000 attempts each year. That said, you can certainly enjoy the park without attempting the summit, as there are also several developed areas that offer accessible trails, museums, campsites and overnight lodging.
- Be sure and stop at Christine Falls, which is located just past Longmire on the left side of the road. It’s easy to miss, and if you take time to admire it from the road, you’ll drive right by the pullout on the right side, which offers the best view of the falls. Unfortunately there are only stairs down to the lower viewing area, but you can still get a nice view of the top part of the 40-foot high waterfall from the 1928 masonry bridge near the pullout.
- The most accessible trail in the park – the Kautz Creek Trail – is located across the street from the Kautz Creek Picnic Area. This level boardwalk trail winds through a section of the forest which was devastated by a 1947 glacier generated debris flow, and leads out to an overlook that offers an excellent view of Mount Rainier.
- Built in 1916, the historic Paradise Inn offers an accessible room furnished with two double beds and a roll-in shower. There’s also good wheelchair access to all the public areas of this property – including the restaurant – which is open from mid-May to October.