Did you know there is a Paradise on earth? Well yes, there is! And it can be found at Mt Rainier National Park!
After being teased by beautiful local views of the mountain we decide to take the drive to the National Park for an up close and personal look at Mt. Rainier. No, not for the first time, but for the first time this year. A sunny day is promised and the roads are clear.
We arrive at the south entrance to the Park at Longmire, and after lunch at the historic National Park Inn, take the drive up to the Paradise Visitor center.
Mt Rainier National Park was established in 1899 and was the fifth U.S. National Park. It was the first to be designed from a master plan to include entrance arches, rustic buildings, scenic lookouts, trails and visitor centers, becoming a pattern for National Parks to follow. We stop at many viewpoints and waterfalls on our way to Paradise.
Near the top we spot a red fox by the side of the road who wisely climbs the snow bank to safer ground.
We arrive at the Paradise Visitor Center at 5,400 feet and enjoy close-ups of the 14,410 foot volcano, the second highest mountain in the continental U.S. It is from here that climbers make their way to Camp Muir at 10,188 feet so they can rise under the darkness of night for the climb to the top. Over 10,000 people a year attempt the climb and almost half as many make it. With binoculars, you can already see climbers making their way up to Camp Muir. Others are content to play in the snow a little closer to the ground.
After our visit we head back down for a short hike at Longmire in an area where meadows meet the forest. We take the boardwalk through hot springs, skunk cabbage and fragrant woods.
Under the tree canopy I tell Bob to look for the buried treasure ahead. ‘X marks the spot’ I say, but he walks on by.
We complete the loop, following the trail into golden meadows where more views of Mt. Rainier await,
until we are finally back to where we started.
On the drive home we pass by the Recycled Spirits of Iron Sculpture Park near the small town of Elbe. For just a donation you can walk among the unusual sculptures created by artist Dan Klennert which we did,
finishing up with a song.
And so after a wonderful day under sunny skies at the most beautiful mountain in America we head back home, once again counting our blessings that we live in such an amazing part of the world.