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Mount Rainier National Park Camping

Where To Buy Groceries/supplies

Free Camping Near Mt Rainier National Park at Sahara Creek with Discover Pass

There are a number of general stores, gift shops, andrestaurants in Mount Rainier National Park.

Chief among them is the Longmire General Store,the ParadiseInn Restaurant and Camp Deli, and the SunriseDay Lodge snack bar.

Also notable is the restaurant at the NationalPark Inn in Longmire. Itâs the only Mount Rainier restaurant openyear-round.

Like most national parks, buying groceries and supplies ismuch more expensive inside Mount Rainier National Park than doing your shoppingbeforehand.

When camping in Mount Rainier, we recommend buying suppliesin one of the small communities surrounding the national park.

Options include Blantonâs Market in Packwood, DeWittâsElbe Junction in Elbe, Fischerâs Market in Randle, MineralMarket in Mineral, MortonCountry Market in Morton, and Mountain Community Co-opin Eatonville.

An even more affordable idea is to stock up on supplies inone of the larger cities slightly farther away from the park. Depending on thedirection youâre coming from, these include Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Portland,Yakima, and Ellensburg.

Also note that there are no gas stations in Mount RainierNational Park, although many are available in the small towns surrounding thepark.

History Of Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Parkâs creation began a very long time ago. In 1792, when Captain George Vancouver observed this mountain while surveying, he decided to name it after his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. After the mountain started to form due to a volcanic eruption more than half a million years ago. In 1893, the Pacific Forest Reserve was created, and Mount Rainier was included. In 1897, the park was enlarged and renamed Mount Rainier Forest Reserve. In March 1899, Congress passed a bill authorizing Mount Rainier National Park, and President William McKinley signed the passed bill making this National park the 5th National park in the United States.

Other Mount Rainier National Park Campgrounds

Camping in Mount Rainer National Park doesnât have to belimited to the three bustling car campgrounds.

A smaller and more peaceful option is to camp at MowichLake, the single designated walk-in campground in the park. Mount Rainier alsooffers a wide variety of wilderness camping at designated backcountrycampsites. Those climbing the mountain also have the option to stay overnightin an alpine camping zone.

Here are the best additional campgrounds in Mount RainierNational Park.

Recommended Reading: Oregon State Parks Camping Reservations

Specific Camping Gear Youll Need

Make the best of family camping in Mount Rainier National Park by packing the proper camping equipment.

In addition to all the basic camping gear, including a sleeping bag and tent, make sure to pack weather appropriate clothing.

Even during the summer, Mount Rainier, like the rest ofWashington State, is prone to sudden changes in weather, including heavy rain.

Familiarize yourself with camping in the rain.And, at the very least, pack a waterproof rainjacket and a few changes of clothing.

Although bears are still present in this national park, theyâre not as much of an issue as in Olympic National Park or North Cascades National Park.

Food storage in a bear box isnât required in the majorcampgrounds, although propercamping food storage, including the use of a bear-proofcanister, is strongly recommended while backcountrycamping.

Finally, camping inthe winter has its own set of equipment requirements, including a wintertent, wintersleeping bag, winter hikingboots, and possibly a wintertent heater.

*Use our familycamping checklist to ensure you donât forget anything important!

Mt Rainier National Forest Road

Mount Rainier National Park

The Mount Rainier National Forest Road is operational from spring to autumn. The Mt Rainier National Forest Road allows you to stay for 14 days. There are several campgrounds towards the northern side of the road.

Some people have made their own fire rings. A ranger in Mount Rainier National Park pointed us to this location. During the winter, it is closed.

There are plenty of other dispersed camping locations along skate road before this one go to this area only if youre in a car with standard clearance dont try this in an RV. However, its a great private site along the river, and Mount Rainier National Park is only 25 minutes away! Get there early if you hate sitting in traffic for an hour!

Recommended Reading: Camping Spots In New Hampshire

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Washington’s Parks: For something to do between campground visits at Mount Rainier, it’s highly recommended to check out some of the national park’s best hiking trails. Mount Rainier isn’t the only awesome natural place to check out. See our article on the best state and national parks in Washington to learn about more destinations. Campgrounds and hiking trails in Olympic National Park highlight the unique landscapes of the Olympic Peninsula, found few other places in the country. Near the U.S./Canadian border in Washington, the hiking trails and campgrounds in North Cascades National Park all reveal rugged opportunities for adventure.

More Outdoor Opportunities: Many of the top-rated tourist attractions in Washington State incorporate the lush scenery that defines the region, including plenty of great hiking trails and hot springs. White water enthusiasts will want to check out the best white-water rafting adventures in Washington, and powder hounds might be interested in some of the different ski resorts throughout the state.

Circle Mount Rainier National Park Loop

If you have the time, there are few better ways to see MountRainier than to circlethe entire mountain.

Although many visitors simply see the southwestern region ofthe park, itâs more than worth it to continue the drive to the southeast beforeheading up to the northeast.

Here is where it gets tricky. To see the entire nationalpark, you must then leave the park before entering it again to see thenorthwest corner. Many visitors camp at all three Mount Rainier National Parkcampgrounds during their trip.

Research the mostpopular Mount Rainier driving tours to decide on the scenic loopthat best suits your preferences.

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Car Camping At Mount Rainier

Before we go into all the details about campground camping and car camping at Mount Rainier National Park the number one thing to know and remember is that space is limited and campsites fill up fast especially in the busy summer months of the park.

So its important to do your homework and as much pre-planning as possible before your camping trip to ensure you and your family get one of those coveted camping spots at Mount Rainier.

Nearby Hotels Cabins Airbnbs

Cougar Rock Campground in Mt. Rainier National Park

There are a wide variety of hotels, cabins, and guest housesnear Mount Rainier.

Check out the AlpineInn, the Village Inn,and the QuicksilverInn at Crystal Mountain Resortin Crystal Mountain for easy access to the park.

The Dancing BearLodge is another option near the Nisqually Entrance as is the NisquallyLodge in Ashford. Those coming from Enumclaw might prefer the Guesthouse InnEnumclaw.

Airbnbis another option for finding guesthouses, cabins, and other lodging near MountRainier.

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Iron Creek Dispersed Campsite

The Iron Creek Dispersed Camping Area is open all year. This Mount Rainier National Park boondocking facility has 1-5 spots with a maximum RV length of 15 feet. The Iron Creek Dispersed Campsite allows you to stay for up to 7 days. This area is immediately beyond the Iron Creek campsite, which charges the services.

Take the US Forest Service road down to Mt. St. Helens, beyond the designated campsite. About a quarter-mile ahead of the charged campsite, towards the left, exists the Iron Creek Picnic Area. Turn left along that road and continue for about a half-mile past the picnic spot. Youll reach a small bridge.

Before the tiny bridge, on the left, is the turnoff for the site. We do not suggest small cars or RVs/pull-campers due to the short but steep descent into the spot.

Three stone fire rings and three tent sites are available. Randle is 6 miles away and has very little traffic. There are no adequate services available. However, it is a fantastic location near the creek.

Boondockers Favorite Locations For Mount Rainier National Park Boondocking 12 Miles: Forest Route 73

Address Elevation: 2905â²

Management â Public â Forest Service

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. There are plenty of spots all along route 73. We took a dispersed camping spot right by a nice creek. There are lots of potholes on the road so be careful driving. The campsites are very nice and in a gorgeous spot surrounded by thick forest but unfortunately littered with trash. I stayed at two different sites in the area on two consecutive nights and both had trash all over them, which I attempted to clean up the best I could. This is a great area to stay if you plan on visiting Mt. Mount Rainier National Park as it is right nearby.


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Other Things To Do Near Mount Rainier National Park

Donât forget to explore the surrounding area while campingin Mount Rainier National Park.

Washington State is filled with a huge variety of beautifulnatural areas as well as its fair share of interesting towns and cities. Manyof these nearby areas of interest can be connected into a larger familycamping road trip.

Here are some nearby attractions to visit on your MountRainier camping trip.

Best Campgrounds In Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park Campgrounds

There are four designated campgrounds in Mount RainierNational Park.

Three of these Mount Rainier campgrounds accept vehicles,including RVs, while the fourth is a walk-in only campground. All three carcampgrounds have flush toilets and running water. Both Cougar Rock andOhanapecosh accept reservations for some campsites.

Here are the best campgrounds in Mount Rainier NationalPark.

Read Also: Best Places To Go Camping In Oregon

Boondockers Favorite Locations For Mount Rainier National Park Boondocking 36 Miles: Pull

Address Elevation: 869â²

Management: Public â Rest Area

You may stay 8 hours at Pull-out on 12. A pull out with a sign for no camping and no bonfires that also says limit stay to 8 hours. A good place to just park and sleep in the car/camper/van for a quick stop. No tents. Lots of space to park. State patrol keeps tabs on 8hr rule, portable toilets and fishing access.

Activities: RV Parking

Mount Rainier National Park Must

The major must-see destination in Mount Rainier National Park is obvious â itâs the mountain itself.

But, in addition to Mount Rainier, there are a variety of other beautiful outdoor areas that all visitors should attempt to visit, including old growth forests, waterfalls, wildflower meadows, and more.

Here are the top must-see destinations in Mount RainierNational Park.

Also Check: Camping Near Colorado Bend State Park

Nisqually Vista Trail Boondockers Favorite Location

Nisqually Vista Trail is a 1.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Paradise Inn, Washington that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and snowshoeing and is best used from June until October. Mount Rainier National Park charges a fee to enter. Fees are per vehicle or per motorcycle. If you are entering on foot, horse, or bike the fee is per person. You can also purchase a park-specific annual pass.

SEASONAL ROAD CLOSURE: Roads leading to this trailhead are subject to seasonal closure from November to mid-April.

This family-friendly trail features beautiful views of Nisqually Glacier with a short walk to the Jackson Visitor Center. You may encounter snow through June and July. No pets are allowed.

Accessibility: There are 8 designated accessible spaces in the paved parking lot off of Paradise Valley Road at the southeast end of the trail. All of them are van-accessible with striped access aisles. The upper parking lot has ramp access to the trail. The trail surface is paved asphalt and smooth. It is typically at least 6 feet wide.

Length: 1.1 mi

No dogs

Most People Start Planning On Their Phones

Video Tour | OHANAPECOSH CAMPGROUND | Mt. Rainier National Park

This redesign is therefore centered on a mobile-first approach. Because hiking was the most popular reason people visit the park , they likely already know which area theyd like to visit most. Given the size of the park, campground proximity to activities is important. So, the map helps people quickly focus on a campground closest to their preferred hiking trails.

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Boondockers Welcome In Mount Rainier National Park Boondocking Locations 35 Miles: Orr Creek Sno

Address National Forest Development Road 5603 Randle, Washington Elevation: 2913â²

Management: Public â State Park

This is a free dispersed camping site. This campsite does not use a reservation system. First come, first served. Good spot, great sun vault toilet. Elk pass through from time to time, have even seen them under my awning!


Wilderness Camping And Hiking

On the trail in Grand Park


Permits are not required for day hiking. However, camping overnight in the wilderness at Mount Rainier requires apermit.

Permits may be reserved in advance by visiting, or be obtained in person at park Wilderness Information Centers. Visit the Wilderness Permits page for more information.

In the winter, permits are still required and available through self-registration outside of Wilderness Information Centers, or at the SR410 entrance arch at the park’s north boundary once the road closes for the season. Check the Wilderness Permit page for details. Learn more about winter recreation, including winter camping. Winter camping ends by May 15 each spring.


Wilderness Permits – A wilderness permit is required to hike the Wonderland Trail, backcountry camp, or climb in the park.

Read Also: Rv Camping At Rocky Mountain National Park

Do I Need Camping Reservations

All four Mount Rainier National Park campgrounds providefirst-come, first-served campsites.

While White River Campground and Mowich Lake Campground areentirely first-come, first-served, some of the campsites at Cougar LakeCampground and OhanapecoshCampground can be reserved online.

We recommend making reservations at Cougar Lake orOhanapecosh Campgrounds during the summer months, especially if you plan to gocamping in Mount Rainier on the weekend or during a holiday.

Many Mount Rainier backcountry campsites can also bereserved in advance. About 70% of these overnight permits are reservable whilethe remaining 30% are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Because backcountry camping in Mount Rainier is so popular,we advise looking into a wildernesspermit reservation if backpacking in the summer.

Note that climbers that wish to stay overnight must alsosecure a wilderness permit before starting their climb.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest

10 Top
  • Proximity to Mt Rainier National Park: 30 Minutes
  • Open Season: Year-Round
  • Reservations: Wide variety of dispersed camping, first come first serve campsites, and reservable campsites.
  • To reserve a campsite or if you have questions about the different types of camping check out the Gifford Pinchot National Forest website.

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is located just a half-hour away from Mount Rainier National Park on its southeastern border, making it a great jumping-off location when visiting Mount Rainier especially if you were unable to snag a campsite inside the national park.

While not all camping at Gifford Pinchot National Forest is free if you are OK with boondocking or dispersed camping you can absolutely camp at this national forest for free.

If you plan to stay at this national forest while visiting Mount Rainier its best to do your homework before you head out as there as there is a wide variety of camping in the forest including cabin rentals, campground camping, dispersed camping, group camping, and RV camping.

Read Also: Camping In New Mexico Mountains

Prepare For Unpredictable Weather

Finally, one more very important tip for Mount Rainier camping is that the weather is extremely unpredictable. Even if you go in the summer, you should be prepared for it to start raining at any time. That means packing a waterproof shell and extra socks in your day bag. You should also check the weather every morning before heading out to make sure you dont get caught in a storm.

If you plan to hike up the mountain, youll need to be extra prepared, as there will be different weather conditions than at lower elevations. For example, the snow around the 5,000-foot elevation mark on Mount Rainier doesnt fully melt until July. Keep this in mind as you pack and plan your trip, as you might need heavier gear and better boots the higher up you hike on the mountain.

Free Camping Near Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainierâs central location in Washington makes it anexcellent destination for free camping.

Start your search by heading over to intuitive website remains one of the best research tools to find freecamping anywhere.

Key areas to focus your search are the national forestssurrounding the national park, including Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest,GiffordPinchot National Forest, and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Do note that the majority of free camping near Mount RainierNational Park, including on the surrounding national forest land, is dispersedcamping.

This means that the camping is primitive and usuallyprivate. The campground doesnât always have established campsites. Althoughthereâs sometimes a vault toilet, many free campgrounds donât have anyfacilities.

For RV campers, this means youâll be boondocking,also known as dry camping. Donât expect any water/electric hookups or an RVdump station.

Both tent and RV campers must typically pack out what they bring in due to lack of garbage services. If youâre a tent camper, consider investing in a camping toilet and/or a camping showerâ and read up on proper camping hygiene.

Our complete guide to free camping inthe United States has more detailed tips and tricks.

NisquallyRiver Campsite along the Nisqually River is another private andpeaceful free campsite near Mount Rainier.

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