Although a lot of snow was still evident during my two-day July visit to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, nature provided more than enough compensation for the minor inconveniences it posed. First, the melting snows at higher elevations made the park’s countless waterfalls truly spectacular. The rushing waters of Chenuis, Ranger, Christine, Narada, and Martha Falls, as well as many others along my route, made this trip to Mount Rainier a most memorable one.
The multitudes of brightly colored “spring” wildflowers were obviously at their peak this year in mid-July, while numerous birds and small earthbound critters added to the awe-inspiring splendor. At the northeast corner of the park, I also took an incredible hike though the Carbon River Rain Forest, where ample precipitation had decorated the verdant forest floor with all shades of green.
Of course, this park is also famous for its deep canyons, beautiful mountain lakes and dense forests of giant Douglas fir, western red cedar and western hemlock. Although I had planned for an extended picture-taking session at lovely Reflection Lake, it turned out to still be snow-covered, so I moved down the road and got some great panoramic shots overlooking Louise Lake, which is at a significantly lower elevation.
Other sights that are also sure to be appreciated by group travelers include Stevens Canyon, plus the easy trails at the Box Canyon of the Cowlitz River and the Grove of the Patriarchs. On this trip I did not have time to make it to the Sunrise Visitor Center, which, at an elevation of 6,400 feet, is the highest point in the park accessible by vehicle, and an ideal spot from which to view Mount Rainier. Due to the snow, the road to Sunrise had just opened for the season during the previous weekend. I was reminded of another visit on a July 13th many years ago, when I was required to take a pathway cleared through the remaining ten feet (!) of snow to reach the visitor center building.
Mount Rainier National Park is a truly magical place, so don’t miss it when you plan a trip to the Pacific Northwest!
Bob Hoelscher, CTC, CTP, MCC, CTIE, is a longtime travel industry executive who has sold his tour company, bought a motorhome and is traveling the highways and byways of America. He is a former chairman of NTA, and was a founding member of Travel Alliance Partners (TAP).
Well-known in the industry as both a baseball and symphony aficionado, Bob is also one of the country’s biggest fans of our national parks, both large and small. He has already visited more than 325 NPS sites and has several dozen yet to see. He is currently traveling the country to visit as many of those parks as possible. His blog, “Travels with Bob,” appears periodically on The Group Travel Leader’s blogsite, “Are We There Yet”.
Bob is available for contractual work in the industry and may be reached at email@example.com or by calling (435) 590-1553.