Sep 15 – We’ve had a short but perfect visit to Mount Rainier. The campground Chris found, Mounthaven Resort, is just outside the Nisqually entrance to the National Park, and the most idyllic place we’ve stayed at so far. It’s small – adorable rental cabins and a couple other rustic camp buildings, maybe a dozen RV sites, all nestled in a gorgeous forest of towering trees, moss, and ferns. Our site backs up to a little stream and paths; it looks like an enchanted forest. The area is not big, but it’s made the dog-walking experience special. (Except for the time we had a close encounter with a deer and they both freaked out.). There is no cell service here, but strong wifi, and the kids have kept themselves occupied with Candyland and Chutes and Ladders borrowed from the office.
Yesterday at Mount Rainier the weather could not have been better, with clear blue skies and only a few wisps of clouds near the end of our visit. We first pulled over because Charlie wasn’t feeling well, and ended up at a trail that led to the Nisqually River, with a huge rock bed surrounded by forested cliffs, and a great view up to Mt Rainier. We stopped again at Narada Falls, which was stunning, with a short but steep path down about a quarter mile for a mid-point view.
When we arrived at Paradise Inn and the Jackson Visitor Center, it was hard to take it all in, from the mountain and glaciers, to the open meadow, to the beautiful buildings of the Inn and Center. And when you turn away from Mt Rainier, there are dramatic, craggy mountain peaks and forest. The kids got their Junior Ranger workbooks, and we watched the 20 minute movie in the Visitor’s Center before heading out. We took the shortest walk to Myrtle Falls, a paved walkway but still pretty steep. So many colorful plants and flowers to see up close, always with dramatic sweeping views all around. The falls were beautiful, and we could see blue in the glacier crevasses.
I’m always interested in checking out the NP Lodges, and Paradise Inn was wonderful. It is one of the first rustic-style lodges, built in 1916 and with most of the beautiful decorative work added by one German woodworker in 1917. We ate take-out sandwiches at the cafe, then moved to a table in the great room for the kids to finish their Junior Ranger work. The mezzanine level over the great room was really unusual – a catwalk around all four sides, lined with cozy tables and chairs, and a small book nook. There were log poles angled up to the vaulted ceiling, and gorgeous cylinder lamp shades painted in a wildflower motif.
Back at the RV, we had our first campfire since Crater Lake.