After our morning in Seattle last Thursday, we hit the road and headed south towards Mount Rainier National Park where we had plans to camp for the night. We didn’t bring too much in the way of camping supplies other than our tent and sleeping bags, but we were ready for our outdoor adventure. After about a two hour drive, we came to the Mount Rainier National Park gate, paid our $15 (which is good for 7 days), and made our way to our little campsite in the big forest while taking in spectacular views of the park and of the mountain peeking through the trees along the way.
We’re used to Minnesota State Parks of course so we pulled up to the Cougar Rock Campground (at 3,180 feet) and stopped at the ranger station to check-in. Little did we know, you just drive right to your site, where they have it all labeled with your name and dates of stay. We were lucky number B-19.
When we parked the car, we were psyched about our site. It was fairly private with some huge fallen trees decorating the landscape. The only problem was where to put the tent. It was a very small site with few options, and we quickly regretted not bringing our sleeping pads because it was basically like setting up a tent and then sleeping on concrete. Since we knew we weren’t going to have a fire (having brought no fire supplies or chairs), we positioned our tent near the fire grate in what we thought was the most cushioned spot. About as cushioned as asphalt that is.
But we were excited to use our new Nemo Losi tent, which we received as a wedding gift last year. We have been camping since our wedding, but we didn’t want to get our new tent dirty (I know, I know) so we still used our old Eureka two person, which is a tight squeeze if you bring anything other than yourself and a sleeping bag. So this trip was the christening (other than the few weeks we had it set up in our basement after our wedding) for our new tent, and I’m not going to lie, it is pretty amazing. It’s a 3 person, which is great for storing all of our gear inside too, and it weighs less than 7 lbs. The whole body of the tent is mesh too so it is very breathable. But enough about my crush on our tent. After we set up our campsite, we continued to drive up the mountain to see the sights. It was a beautiful sunny day so we were able to snap some great photos.
There were also some incredible vistas of the mountain that look like postcards. We couldn’t have asked for a bluer sky with hardly any clouds. Often times Rainier is shrouded in cloud cover so we didn’t know if we’d be able to get any good shots, but we truly hit it at the perfect few days for photo ops.
Dain snagged this one through the trees on a little hike we went on after parking the car nearby.
We also drove up to Paradise, which is situated at around 5,400 feet. There we checked out the visitor center and learned about the glaciers and the history of the national park. We also popped into the historic Paradise Inn (circa 1916) where we grabbed dinner on Thursday night since dehydrated camping meals didn’t sound too appealing given an alternative. The coolest part is that it was only about a twenty minute walk from Paradise to be on snow thanks to an abnormally high snowfall this year.
On the snow, we saw quite a few marmots scurrying around, and down on lower ground, we saw this guy just casually eating a snack right next to the trail. He didn’t even seem to notice that someone was taking his picture.
Overall, we had a great one night stay at the park, but we’d love to come back again and camp for longer since there are so many hikes to go on throughout the park. If you are ever in the area, Mount Rainier National Park is a gorgeous stop. We would definitely stay at Cougar Rock again, despite the fact that they don’t have showers (I guess we’re spoiled in MN or just really clean) and the fact that we didn’t sleep very well thanks to our decision to not bring something cushy to sleep on. Next time. Since it isn’t fun to wake up with a throbbing bruise on your knee after flipping over onto the concrete ground in the middle of the night. This girl. Lesson learned. We also happen to have a long list of other national parks that we want to get to. Arches, Glacier, and Joshua Tree to name a few. Someday. Have you been to any of our incredible national parks? We’d love to hear about it.