Without doubt, one of the most beautiful national parks lies just 200 miles northwest of the Tri-Cities, making this destination less than four hours away from home. With winter just around the corner, most won’t be traveling to enjoy the wonders of the Mt. Rainier National Park. However, now is the time to consider making reservations for camping or lodging in the beauty of the park next summer. Summer reservations are tight and often need to be made a year in advance as adventurers from around the world venture to take in the sights, hike the trails, and some even attempt an ascent of the majestic Mt. Rainier.
The prime time to visit Mt. Rainier is July and August when the snow has receded and the best chance for a sunny day can be enjoyed. This also is the time when reservations would be mandatory to find a place to stay. There are camping accommodations, lodge accommodations, and of course VRBO’s and other private rentals.
The two campgrounds of Ohanapecosh and Cougar Rock offer the most sought-after sites in the park. Both offer traditional sites for $20.00/night. Ohanhapecosh, the largest of the campgrounds, is deeply wooded in old growth and is on the east side of the park, so easily accessed from the Tri-Cities. There are 188 sites that are open from late May until late September. Some sites will allow for an RV, but the length of the RV is limited to 27’. From the campground there are no open views of Rainier because it lies low on the mountain, but nearby trails lead to open line sights. It is also close to the Grove of the Patriarchs, where immense trees (Patriarchs) rise to the skies. Some are known to be more than a thousand years old. Additionally, there is a visitor center at the entrance to the campground where visitors can speak with rangers or purchase small souvenirs of their visit.
Cougar Rock sits at 3,100 feet, a much higher elevation than Ohanapecosh! It is located near Longmire (two miles) on the west side of the mountain, so those coming from Seattle have quicker access. This campground offers 173 sites, along with five group sites. There is potable water available, toilets, campfire platforms, and picnic tables. Part of the Wonderland Trail (trail that goes around the entire base of Mt. Rainier) leads to Carter Falls and Madcap Falls, two scenic endpoints to hiking experiences. There is an amphitheater where rangers lead various presentations to be enjoyed by all ages.
Both campgrounds highly recommend reservations and December is the time to secure a spot for next summer. If you are planning a trip to either campground, you can create an account and secure a site here after December 12, 2023. If your dates are specific, make sure you are on-line December 12th to get that perfect spot for your adventure into Mt. Rainier National Park!