Where to Stay in Mount Rainier National Park

By Allison Williams With Charlotte Austin July 19, 2012 Published in the August 2012 issue of Seattle Met

Under a Roof

National Park Inn
Open year-round and snow free before almost anything else in the park, Longmire serves as a kind of home base for Mount Rainier operations. Most of the 25 hotel rooms are small and have shared bathrooms, but there’s elbow room on a chair-lined front porch, the perfect place to eat ice cream and view the mountain. mtrainierguestservices.comLONGMIRE

Paradise Inn
Recent renovations have spruced up the circa-1916 hotel, but its true charms are the unchanged stone fireplaces on both ends of the massive great room. Under the steep roof—all the better to shake the record snowfall—are dormer windows, snug rooms, and thick wooden beams. PARADISE

Alta Crystal Resort
The family that runs this hotel northwest of the mountain is more than hospitable, it’s involved. Like put--marshmallows-on-your-s’more-stick-at-the-evening-campfire involved. A heated outdoor pool and hot tub sit near the front of the property, while an isolated honeymoon cabin is discretely tucked into the woods. NEAR CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN

Cedar Creek Treehouse
Sleep a startling 50 feet above a burbling creek in the branches of a 200-year-old Western red cedar. A spiral staircase winds up a Douglas fir to a swingy suspension bridge and tree-house observatory a dizzying 100 feet off the ground, offering a stomach-spinning view also available to those who take the hour-long tour led by the designer, builder, and owner. ASHFORD

Wellspring Spa
The best log cabins on this woody compound have a full kitchen, a Jacuzzi tub, feather beds, and fireplaces made of massive river rocks; another has a private Zen garden. Outdoor hot tubs also dot the property. Ashford

In a Tent  

Cougar Rock 
With primo placement between Longmire and Paradise, there’s hardly a bad spot in the 178 heavily wooded campsites. The five group sites, especially F1, provide ample parking and privacy for crews of a dozen or more. 

The Park’s biggest campground boasts both old-growth forests and a dry east-of-the-peak climate, and almost every site on Loop C borders a river or creek. Reservations are required on summer weekends.

White River 
Since you can’t reserve one of the 112 sites near Sunrise, motor up early to grab D20 or D22—they’re next to the glacier-cold waters of the White River but still removed from where the Wonderland Trail winds through camp.

Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground 
It’s 14 miles round trip to this breathtaking alpine meadow near Longmire, so an overnight stay at Pyramid Creek or Devil’s Dream Backcountry Camp is recommended. A nineteenth-century Native American guide once hunted goats here, but he’s best remembered for the rumors that swarm his memory—some say he once killed a medicine man and cached stolen Spanish gold on the mountain.

The backcountry sites here are the park’s most popular, and not only because they sit between the charmingly named Fryingpan Glacier and Panhandle Gap just east of Rainier. A riverside ramble and a steep uphill slog lead to a stone shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934; the six campsites are just beyond.

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