Mount Rainier National Park is a true gem of the Pacific Northwest. Towering over the landscape at 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is an iconic symbol of the region and a haven for nature enthusiasts. Recently, my family and I embarked on a weekend trip to this majestic park, exploring its breathtaking vistas, embarking on memorable hikes, and savoring delicious meals along the way. Check out our incredible experience, from accommodations at Altimeter Cabin’s Sherpa Cabin to the best family-friendly stops and hikes in the area.
Family Getaway at Mount Rainier National Park
Accommodations at Altimeter Cabin’s Sherpa Cabin
Our adventure began with a stay at Altimeter Cabin’s Sherpa Cabin, a cozy retreat nestled in the woods.
The Sherpa Cabin embodies rustic elegance, combining the charm of a traditional cabin with modern amenities for a comfortable and cozy stay. The cabin features a spacious living area with a wood-burning stove, perfect for snuggling up on chilly evenings. The fully-equipped kitchen allows you to prepare your meals, and the dining area offers a lovely spot to enjoy them while taking in the views through large windows.
Paradise Village Bakery
Our morning began with a stop at a Ukrainian inn, restaurant, and bakery right outside the gate of Mount Rainier National Park. Paradise Village is a great place to grab a crepe, waffle, or just a pastry and a cup of coffee to go.
Exploring Reflection Lakes
Our first stop in Mount Rainier National Park was Reflection Lakes. These mirror-like lakes offer stunning reflections of Mount Rainier, making it a photographer’s dream. Even Max was captivated by the beauty of the scenery, and he enjoyed finding rocks to skip in the lake.
We enjoyed a leisurely walk along the lakeshore, taking in the serene views and snapping photos to commemorate the moment.
Hiking Paradise Recreation Area – Skyline Trail
For our first hike, we chose the Skyline Trail at Paradise Recreation Area. This 5.5-mile loop offered breathtaking vistas of the mountain, wildflower meadows, and numerous opportunities to spot wildlife.
Max was excited to explore and was fascinated by the diverse flora and fauna. This was one of our longest hikes during our trip since little legs move more slowly, but the fresh, mountain air and stunning views made it a worthy journey.
Remember to bring layers as the weather can change rapidly.
Lunch at Jackson Visitor Center Café
After a morning of exploring, we refueled at the Jackson Visitor Center Café. The café offered a range of sandwiches, soups, and snacks, making it a convenient choice for a quick and satisfying lunch.
Discovering Narada Falls
Narada Falls was our next must-see destination. A short, paved walk from the parking area led us to this impressive 168-foot waterfall. Max loved getting close to the falls and feeling the mist on his faces. It’s an easily accessible spot for families of all ages, but be aware of the amount of rainfall. It can make the path extra slippery and more difficult to hike back up.
Altimeter Cabin’s Sherpa Cabin
We returned to our cabin to wash up before dinner. There is a hot tub and lovely patio to relax after a day of hiking.
Dinner at Rainier Basecamp Bar and Grill
Our first night ended with a delicious meal at Rainier Basecamp Bar and Grill. Their menu featured a variety of options to satisfy every palate, from hearty burgers to fresh salads. The atmosphere was welcoming, and the service was excellent.
Breakfast at Whittaker Café
Whittaker Café is the perfect Sunday morning breakfast stop. Their pancakes and omelets were a hit with both kids and adults. The café had a friendly, local vibe that made us feel like part of the community.
Hiking Longmire Recreation Area – Trail of the Shadows
Our second day began with a family-friendly hike on the Trail of the Shadows at Longmire Recreation Area. This easy loop takes you through an old-growth forest and past bubbling mineral springs.
Hiking Longmire Recreation Area – Twin Firs Loop Trail
The Twin Firs Loop Trail is another family-friendly option, known for its serene ambiance and scenic beauty. This trail takes you through old-growth forest, providing ample opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. The relatively short distance and gentle elevation gain make it accessible to hikers of all skill levels.
National Park Inn
The National Park Inn is located at Longmire and includes a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is the only in-park dining facility that is open all year.
What truly sets the National Park Inn apart is its incredible location. Situated in the shadow of Mount Rainier, the inn offers stunning panoramic views that can be enjoyed from both inside the dining room and the outdoor patio. We were fortunate enough to secure a window-side table, allowing us to feast our eyes on the breathtaking scenery as we enjoyed our meal.
Comet Falls Hike
Next up, we made our way to Comet Falls Trail. This moderate 3.8-mile round-trip hike offers stunning views and the opportunity to witness the 320-foot Comet Falls.
Be prepared for some uphill sections, but the payoff is worth it.
Stopping at Christine Falls
Continuing our journey, we stopped at Christine Falls, another stunning waterfall accessible by a short trail. The cascading water, surrounded by lush greenery, provided a perfect backdrop for family photos. It’s a peaceful spot to relax and soak in the natural beauty.
Dinner at Copper Creek Inn
We returned to Ashford for dinner at Copper Creek Inn. Their rustic setting and delicious menu make it a great choice for a family meal. Don’t forget to try their famous blackberry pie for dessert!
Our weekend trip to Mount Rainier National Park was an unforgettable experience filled with natural beauty, family-friendly hikes, and delightful dining. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a photography buff, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Mount Rainier has something to offer everyone. Plan your next family adventure to this iconic park and create memories that will last a lifetime.