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Day trip from Seattle to Mt.Rainier NP - enough time?

Day trip from Seattle to Mt.Rainier NP - enough time?

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Old Jun 10, 19, 3:56 pm
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Day trip from Seattle to Mt.Rainier NP - enough time?

Hi!

Later this week i'll have a free day in Seattle before my evening flight. The weather looks great, so I was thinking of hiring a car and driving to Mt.Rainier NP, hopefully to see some wildflowers and do a walk or two.

If I pick up a hire car from the city at 7am, I'd need to be back by 4.30pm to drop off the car. So with 10 hours, and a 2 hour drive each way, at best I'd have around 5 hours at the NP. Is it worth the effort for a relatively short amount of time, or should I do something else in the city and hope that I have the opportunity on another visit to visit the NP?

Thanks!

Shefgab
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Old Jun 10, 19, 7:27 pm
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“Worth it” is relative. That’s a lot of driving and hassle for not much time in the park (I’d normally suggest at least a full day, ideally multiple days if you enjoy camping). Taking the light rail into the city would be much easier, and you’d have plenty of time to explore Seattle’s key sites.

However, if you love nature, the park is absolutely incredible and will not disappoint.

Your interests and hiking abilities are an important factor. It’s early in the season, so many of the best and most accessible trails are covered in heavy snow (the park is best between July-Sept). If you just want to snap a few pictures from the parking lot and walk around a little bit, no problem — they plow the roads, and there are excellent views to be had without leaving your car. If you are a strong hiker, I’d recommend this trail: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/grand-park.

Good luck and safe travels.
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Old Jun 11, 19, 8:13 am
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It's more like 2 1/2 hours each way (don't believe Google maps if that's what you're using) and yes, you're going to be way too early for wildflowers. Look at the webcams - https://www.nps.gov/mora/learn/photo...ia/webcams.htm - and you'll see that the Paradise area has bare roads, but the (rotten - old) snow extends pretty much down to the edge of the car parks. Plus, the drive each way is not all that wonderful. If it was me, I'd pass on this trip.

However that doesn't mean you couldn't get the car and have a terrific day in the Puget Sound region. There are numerous day trips that are spectacular if the weather's good.

For example, this is one of my faves - Map - https://goo.gl/maps/84BQ87b4xJKm3H6JA . It includes West Seattle and Alki Beach, Vashon Island and the Point Robinson lighthouse, Old Town Tacoma, and the Chihuly Bridge of Glass in that city's downtown area. Vashon is a beautiful rural island that extends down Puget Sound between Seattle and Tacoma (connected by ferries at each end) with funky towns, gorgeous beaches and views of both the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Rainier. Tacoma can be surprisingly cool, and its resurgent downtown area features the Museum of Glass (fee) and the Chihuly Bridge of Glass (free) as well as a big car museum. You could do this loop either from downtown Seattle or from the airport, so you could just return the car there before flying out.

Downtown skyline from West Seattle



Olympic Mountains from Alki



Point Robinson lighthouse



Mt. Rainier from Vashon



Chihuly Bridge of Glass (not my picture)



Or, you could still get the car and have a very enjoyable day touring around Seattle, perhaps seeing some sights that many visitors miss as they're not in the downtown/tourist zone. For example, this route - https://goo.gl/maps/59eG9EbVQRqYueGb9 - would include Fishermen's Terminal, the colorful home port of Seattle's (and a big part of Alaska's) fishing fleet, the Ballard locks, Fremont Troll, and the Union Bay wetlands near the University of Washington (foot paths through the marshes - lots of birds and wildlife.) You'd then travel down the Lake Washington waterfront to Leschi and Seward Parks (walk around Seward Park, looking for nesting eagles) with their great views of Rainier. Then cross over to Boeing Field and the Museum of Flight, and finish with a mai tai at Marination Ma Kai on the West Seattle waterfront, or margaritas at the branch of Cactus, a fun Mexican restaurant, opposite Alki Beach (with our own wee Statue of Liberty.) GREAT day in the city.

Fishermen's Terminal



Museum of Flight



View from Marination Ma Kai

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Old Jun 12, 19, 4:18 am
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Thank you both for your input!

I've decided against Mt Rainier - it's just a bit too far. But some great alternative ideas for me to mull over. Is the ferry over to Bremerton any good? I went to Bainbridge last summer for the day, which was very pleasant. The Museum of Flight also sounds good (did Everett last year as well).
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Old Jun 12, 19, 4:27 am
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Bremerton ferry is basically the same experience as Bainbridge but a bit longer ride.

Museum of Flight is excellent but if it’s a beautiful day I’d personally prioritize outdoor activities.

More info on your interests might help with suggesting options, especially since you’ve been to Seattle before and have presumably visited the “must see” tourist attractions. For example, do you like craft beer? Ballard is a must visit. Cycling? The city now has Lime bikes littered about everywhere that can be rented on demand for relatively cheap. A fun way to get around between various sights.
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Old Jun 12, 19, 6:31 am
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Originally Posted by _fx View Post
More info on your interests might help with suggesting options, especially since you’ve been to Seattle before and have presumably visited the “must see” tourist attractions. For example, do you like craft beer? Ballard is a must visit. Cycling? The city now has Lime bikes littered about everywhere that can be rented on demand for relatively cheap. A fun way to get around between various sights.
Outdoorsy things are good, I like a nice hike. Somewhere to get some fresh air (hence Rainier or the ferry). Can't drink this trip unfortunately, so craft beer is out

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Old Jun 12, 19, 7:40 am
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If you'd like a hike with a shorter driving time, try the Issaquah Alps (foothills with decent hikes, ~20 mins from downtown Seattle) or nearby: e.g. Tiger Mountain or (for some thigh-burning) Mailbox Peak. Good views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascades on a clear day. With a car, you'd also need a parking pass, but there is a new bus service, "Trailhead Direct," to the most popular trailheads (including the hikes I mentioned) that avoids that.

Closer in still, if you want to avoid, or largely avoid driving, you could visit Discovery Park within Seattle city limits, IMHO it's Seattle's most spectacular park -- it has a 2.8 mile hiking trail (a loop) that takes you through forest before emerging on cliffs (with sand dunes) with a view of the water and the Olympic Mountains to the west and, on clear days, a view of Mt. Rainier to the SSE. A spur trail descends to a lighthouse and beach. Discovery Park has (free) parking lots, but you can also take the 33 bus to DP from downtown (e.g. University St or Westlake), and there connect to the airport light rail, meaning that a rental car would be optional.

Last edited by jcp3rd; Jun 12, 19 at 7:50 am Reason: added URLs
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Old Jun 12, 19, 8:17 am
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There's still a fair amount of water coming over Snoqualmie Falls, and you can hike down to the lower falls area. You might consider doing a two-part day, one half in the city, the other half out to Snoqualmie Falls and the "Twin Peaks" country. Maybe stop for a (decent) burger and sensory overload at the Triple XXX drive-in in Issaquah, right off I-90.

Here's a map showing the Snoqualmie Falls portion - https://goo.gl/maps/cXesjgubKGiB5H8D7

Snoqualmie Falls ? Official Web Site
Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in


Last edited by Gardyloo; Jun 12, 19 at 8:26 am
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Old Jun 13, 19, 8:20 am
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Originally Posted by jcp3rd View Post
If you'd like a hike with a shorter driving time, try the Issaquah Alps (foothills with decent hikes, ~20 mins from downtown Seattle) or nearby: e.g. Tiger Mountain or (for some thigh-burning) Mailbox Peak. Good views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascades on a clear day. With a car, you'd also need a parking pass, but there is a new bus service, "Trailhead Direct," to the most popular trailheads (including the hikes I mentioned) that avoids that.

Closer in still, if you want to avoid, or largely avoid driving, you could visit Discovery Park within Seattle city limits, IMHO it's Seattle's most spectacular park -- it has a 2.8 mile hiking trail (a loop) that takes you through forest before emerging on cliffs (with sand dunes) with a view of the water and the Olympic Mountains to the west and, on clear days, a view of Mt. Rainier to the SSE. A spur trail descends to a lighthouse and beach. Discovery Park has (free) parking lots, but you can also take the 33 bus to DP from downtown (e.g. University St or Westlake), and there connect to the airport light rail, meaning that a rental car would be optional.

That Trailhead Direct looks great, but only runs at the weekend. I might try Discovery Park. Thanks!
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