We’ve decided it’s finally time to explore Mt. Rainier this summer. At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in Washington. In 1899, Mount Rainier became the country’s fifth national park.
So far we’ve discussed whether this should be a day trip, or if we should find a nice place to stay and visit Mt. Saint Helen’s while we’re at it.
As of this moment, the answer to this question is undecided.
“If you have only a day, enter at the Ashford/Nisqually Entrance in the southwest and head to the wild-flower covered fields of Paradise. Enjoy the centers at Longmire & Paradise and continue on to Sunrise, the highest point accessible by car. If you have 2 days, take the same route but take the time to hike to reflection lakes at Paradise or other short trails. Plan to explore as far as Paradise the first day, then tour Stevens Canyon Road and continue on to Sunrise the following day.”
“If you are traveling during July-Sep from Seattle and don’t have a lot of time head straight for Sunrise for a breathtaking look at Mt. Rainier. Have a little more time or want to fit in a trip to Mount St. Helens also – head
for Longmire & Paradise!”
The park has four entrances, all off Interstate 5.
- Nisqually, on Hwy 706 via Ashford near the park’s southwest corner, is the busiest and most convenient gate, being near the park’s main nexus points of Longmire and Paradise, both of which have a number of important trailheads. Paradise is served by the flying-saucer-shaped Henry M Jackson Visitor Center, while the other entrances are
- Ohanapecosh, via Hwy 123;
- White River, off Hwy 410; and
- Carbon River, the most remote entryway, at the northwest corner.
Here is a list of items to consider:
- Check the weather: there’s no point in going only to find you are in a cloud with absolutely no visibility (this is pretty common).
- Gas up, check tire pressure and oil. Clean out all the trash and unnecessary items from the truck’s cab.
- Make sure AAA membership is current
- Choice of the route based on departure time and where the sun will be shining and sights selected
- Choice of the departure time
- Choice of snacks and drinks for the drive and the hike
- Choice of what day to depart (Summer weekends are most crowded)
- Visitor’s Center for a map and souvenirs
- Choice of sights to see and trails to hike at Mt. Rainier
- Whether to spend any time at indoor places like Longmire Museum (rainy day perhaps?)
- Fees and Passes: $25.00/car for 7 days
- Park Hours :
Suggested Mountain Itineraries
- Longmire > Visitor Center > lunch at Whittaker School of Mountaineering > Christine Falls > Nisqually River up to Narada Falls > Paradise
- Alder Lake Park and the town of Eatonville > Visitor Center > lunch at Whittaker School of Mountaineering > Christine Falls > Nisqually River up to Narada Falls > Paradise > Reflection Lake > Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center
- Paradise Jackson Visitor Center > Lunch at Paradise Inn > drive 3 miles east of Paradise on Steven Canyon road > Park car and take the 2.6 mile hike along Pinnacle Peak trail for views of Mt. Rainier and nearby Mt. Adams > time and road conditions permitting, drive to Sunrise > Tipsso Lake > hike Sourdough Ridge Trail > picnic at the Sunrise Visitor Center > Drive to Sunrise Point
2 hours 25 minutes drive time
- Longmire to Paradise, then Ohanapecosh, and on to Sunrise is the normal most common route
- Carbon River remote temperate rain forest area (least visited, most beautiful) is 1 day trip on it’s own.
- Wonderland Trail
- Nisqually Visitor Trail
- Grove of the Patriarchs at Ohanapecosh, where 1,000-year-old Douglas firs tower above the landscape.
- Sunrise Rim Trail: elevation 6,400 ft., highest spot in the park.
- Sunrise Visitor Center, beautiful views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Mt. Adams, less crowded than Paradise, lots of Alpine flowers.
- Cayuse Pass to Chinook Pass for 4.5-mile day-hike loop trail that begins at Tipsoo Lake and circles Naches Peak
Sights at Mt. Rainier
- Emmons and Winthrop glaciers
- Nisqually and Wilson glaciers
- Paradise Fields: elevation 5,400 ft., lots of wildflowers in July/Aug, very busy season. This sounds like a ‘Must See’ destination.
- Hot Springs Nature Trail
Lodging near Mt. Rainier
- National Park Inn
Website Information Sources
As a Project Manager the first thing I’ll do when working a new project like planning a family trip is to create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). A WBS is a list of all the components that are required to successfully complete the family trip project. The WBS helps me to break down the project into 5 distinct phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing. Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project is the most common software tool for creating the WBS.
Once the WBS is complete an Activity List can be created, which defines the activities we’ll engage in during the project.
[ insert WBS sample here ]
[ insert Activity List sample here ]
Don’t neglect to include Risk Management. Create a list of ‘What could go wrong’. Rank the events as to how likely they are to happen. Plan out your response in advance. Every family is different, but a few potential Risks which could ruin your vacation are:
- The car breaks down or runs out of gas
- You’re involved in a collision
- The Park is closed when you get there
- The weather changes for the worse
- Your car is broken into
- You lose your wallet, credit cards, and cash
- Someone in your family gets sick
- A child gets lost
- A child gets injured (hopefully nothing more serious than a scraped knee)
- Your cellphone battery dies
- You discover there is no cellphone coverage when you arrive
- Everyone gets caught in torrential rain and is sopping wet
[ insert Risk Management Plan sample here ]
Deciding at the last moment to visit Mt. Saint Helen’s late in the day would be considered ‘Out of Scope’ for this Project Plan.
- Create the WBS
- Create the Risk Plan
- Create the Task List
- Create the Project Schedule
- Create a Network Diagram and identify the Critical Path
- Create a Gantt Chart