Otherwise known as that time we went to Mt. Rainier.... and didn't actually see it. Allison is visiting for the first two weeks of July. We spent her first weekend in Richland and we'll be out of town again this weekend, but we wanted to do a fun Seattle day trip on the weekend in between. So, we decided to brave the three-hour each way drive to Mt. Rainier National Park! We left our house at 7:30 in the morning and stopped for breakfast at a Panera in Puyallup to break up the drive. We entered the park through the Nisqually Entrance in the southwest corner and arrived in Paradise at 11:00. Even on a super foggy day, we snagged one of the last parking spots. In better weather, we definitely would have needed to leave at least an hour earlier.
It was much chillier than we expected, so we layered up the girls with their extra pair of shorts and used some towels we keep stashed in the trunk as blankets. From there, we set out on our first hike of the day - a 1.25 mile loop called Nisqually Vista.
We saw the promised alpine meadows and wildflowers....
But the beautiful glacier view? Just a wall of fog.
We ate our picnic lunch in the Paradise Visitor's Center, watched a twenty-minute video about the mountain, and checked out the historic Paradise Inn. The clouds parted long enough to see some of the surrounding mountains.
We drove through the breathtaking Stevens Canyon to our second hike of the day - The Grove of the Patriarchs. It's an island in the middle of the river with a persevered old growth forest. Being on an island kept the trees safe from forest fires and the like. Another easy, toddler-friendly 1.25 mile loop.
From there, we drove out through the Sunrise entrance, stopped for dinner at Chipotle in Kent, and got home just after 8:00. It was a way more doable day trip with small children than we expected, so hopefully we can repeat it again soon and actually see our favorite mountain up close!