We had a quick trip planned to Seattle and no good reason to rent a car. We were with in a short walking distance of the commuter train to downtown. And we walked a quick block from the airport to the hotel. But having the opportunity I wanted to get Daughter up on a mountain. We were so close to Mt. Rainier that I really wanted to try and visit it.
Sometimes a tour is the best option! I could have rented a car for one day and driven us up there but instead we booked with Tours Northwest. They picked us up at our hotel in a mini bus around 7am. Made a quick stop at a grocery store for anyone who wanted to take a deli sandwich and to use the bathroom. (We bought deli sandwiches instead of eating at the Mt. Rainier cafe to save time for hiking.) Our bus was quite full with other tourists like ourselves so that made the trip fun.
The guide told us about the area as we drove and pointed out some interesting sites along the way. The morning on the mountain was not looking very good, it was cold and foggy. I was a bit disappointed you could not see the top. The bus stopped at various sites inside the national park. This is the bonus of taking a tour, he knew where the great waterfall pictures could be taken. He knew where animals are generally seen. I would have just been driving without knowing right over there was a great waterfall stop. So in this case a tour was priceless! And I could enjoy without driving!!!
We stopped in Longmire and had time to walk a trail or checkout the museum. We chose to quickly walk the trail and see the small mineral springs. And we were shown the massive trees.
Then as we drove up higher to the Jackson Visitor Center in Paradise we drove out of the fog into a beautiful warm sunny day!!!!! The bus dropped us off at the trail start near the cafe and we had a couple of hours to hike, shop, eat or explore. We had a set time to meet up at the visitor center which worked great!
We found this deer napping and walked out to this bridge to see the view.
The day was perfect for hiking and we even got a little warm walking around. We took a break to eat our sandwiches and headed back toward the tour bus. Everyone was quiet and sleeping on the bus ride back to Seattle.
Tours by Northwest dropped us back at our hotels and we grabbed a quick dinner at Denny’s before hitting bed. The walking, elevation and time change were doing us in. And we had an early flight in the morning!
More information on Tours by Northwest can be found here: http://www.toursnorthwest.com/MtRainierTour.html