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Washington’s drought was evident in the water levels at Tipsoo Lake

I’ve lived in Seattle for over a year and finally got to Mt. Rainier National Park to meet Washington’s highest mountain IRL for the first time. I focused on visiting the areas near Paradise and the Chinook Pass. I entered the park from the southwestern Nisqually entrance. The fee to enter was $20 for my vehicle and valid for 7 consecutive days.

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The stone bridge over  the lower tier of Christine Falls

My first mistake was assuming that visiting mid-week and mid-September meant the park wouldn’t be crowded. A teacher’s strike in Seattle and fantastic weather made the park fairly packed. This was an issue since I had no mobile phone service in the park, nor for about 30 miles outside of it. Wifi was non-existent.

The first photo op I passed was the picturesque Christine Falls, which are easy to access just off the road. Washington has been in a drought and water levels were visibly low at all the waterfalls and lakes.

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Hiking in Paradise

If you are planning on staying at one of Mt. Rainier’s Inns, book ahead even in the fall.

I failed to do this and discovered both Paradise Inn and National Park Inn had filled up a few hours before my arrival.

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Evergreens and fall colors

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Full frontal fall colors off a trail in Paradise

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A creek and Mt. Rainier above Narada Falls

After two years of drought in the state of Washington, we’ve been told that this winter will be a record El Nino year, and I’m curious to see how this effects the snowpack and water levels at Mt. Rainier National Park next year.

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The bridge above Narada Falls

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 Rainier in stunning light

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 Evergreens and glaciers

You can spend a whole day hiking around Paradise. The Alta Vista trail loop is paved and leads through meadows filled with wildflowers. I was surprised by how vibrant the fall colors already were in mid-September.

Additional trails to the Skyline Trail and Reflection Lakes intersect with the Alta Vista loop.

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A pretty view of Mt. Rainier

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  A meadow on the Alta Vista trail in full Autumnal splendor

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 Wood in the forest near Christine Falls

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Fall colors out in full force on the Alta Vista trail in Paradise

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Driving through the park

Paradise Inn

Reservations
Open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm PDT.
Send Email
Phone 360.569.2275 or 855.755.2275
Fax 360.569.2770

GPS Address to Nisqually Entrance
(not a mailing address)
39000 State Route 706 E
Ashford, WA  98304
The National Park Inn is located 6 miles inside the Nisqually Entrance and the Paradise Inn is located 19 miles inside the entrance.

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