Mount Rainier National Park

When Is the Best Time

The best time to visit Mount Rainier National Park is in July and August. Both summer months offer mild and dry weather, which is excellent for hiking. Additionally, the wildflower season occurs from mid-July to August.

However, even in summer, unpleasant weather can still occur. Always check the forecast, bring rain gear, and dress in layers to be prepared for every kind of weather. If you want to avoid the most snow, don’t go before June.

In May, even places like Paradise are still covered with snow. In most years, the area is usually snow-free from about mid-July through late September.

Meadow flowers in the springtime and Alta Vista trail in the fall. Our two favorite photos.

We visited Mount Rainier National Park quite often in spring, summer, and fall. Thus, we can provide you with very helpful tips for each season.

Avoiding the Crowds

July and August are also the peak tourist months. Paradise and Sunrise will be quite crowded. If you can visit in June or September: After the first Labor Day weekend (early September) tourist crowds dissipate.

However, from our experience, there are 3 simple ways to dodge the crowds and get a parking lot even during peak season in the summer:

  • Be there early in the morning. Preferably before 9 AM. The earlier, the better. Stay at a nearby hotel or lodge (see our tips below).
  • Alternatively, you could arrive late, between 5 PM and 6 PM. Most visitors have left the park at 6 PM. You’d avoid most crowds and enjoy one of the fascinating Shorter Hikes.
  • Try to avoid weekends and visit mid-week if possible. We always tried to go mid-week.
Sweet Spot Months

Sweet spot months with fewer crowds and a high chance of good weather are June and September (immediately after Labor Day crowds disappear). In September, it’s even snow free, and the visitor centers and all its facilities are usually open until the end of September.

But still, try to avoid weekends in September if possible or start early in the morning. We had the best times when we visited during this month.

The Best Hotels (Lodging Tips)

  • Paradise Inn: Located directly at Paradise. Very comfortable. Book well in advance!
  • Nisqually Lodge (Top Tip!): Another excellent location. Short drive to Paradise (39 minutes), very friendly staff, free wine in the evening, comfortable beds, great location at Mt. Rainier. We almost always booked this one and loved our stay there!
  • Mt Rainier Hotels & Lodges: More alternatives. Use the comfortable search: Enter your preferred dates and then check the list of hotels. Make sure to change the search criteria to your liking at the top bar. We usually select ‘Review Score & Price’.

Complete Season Guide

Each season brings its own unique charm and challenges. This comprehensive guide aims to equip you with essential information for an enjoyable visit, tailored to each season.



Spring in Mount Rainier National Park typically runs from April to June. The temperature varies between 40°F to 60°F (4°C to 15°C). Although rain showers are common, you’ll also see many sunny days.


This season usually sees fewer visitors, making it a peaceful time to visit. Plus, you get to avoid the summer crowd.

Facilities and Visitor Centers
  • Sunrise: Closed in spring.
  • Paradise: Open, but some facilities might be limited.
Other Important Information
  • Snow is still present, especially at higher elevations.
  • Many trails might be closed due to snow and muddy conditions.
  • Wildflowers begin to bloom towards the end of the season.

So, if you’re looking for a more laid-back experience, spring could be your jam.

We visited in late spring and had an amazing time. There were fewer people, so we felt like we had the park to ourselves. Seeing the snow-capped mountains while walking among blooming wildflowers was surreal.



Summer runs from July to September with temperatures ranging between 50°F to 80°F (10°C to 26°C). Rain is less frequent, and you’ll enjoy long, sunny days.


Summer is the most popular season. So, expect more people, especially during weekends.

Facilities and Visitor Centers
  • Sunrise: Open with all facilities functional.
  • Paradise: Fully open.
Other Important Information
  • All trails are generally open.
  • Ideal for long hikes, picnics, and photography.
  • Reservation for campsites is highly recommended.

We came here in July and couldn’t have asked for better weather. The trails were open and we hiked for hours. Make sure to book your campsite in advance, it fills up quickly!



Fall spans from October to early November. Temperatures drop to 30°F to 60°F (-1°C to 15°C). Rain becomes more frequent as you move into late fall.


Visitor numbers decrease, similar to spring.

Facilities and Visitor Centers
  • Sunrise: Closed in fall.
  • Paradise: Open, but expect reduced services.
Other Important Information
  • Trees sport vibrant autumn colors.
  • Some trails may close due to early snowfall or icy conditions.
  • It’s a good idea to carry layers and rain gear.

Fall is an awesome time for those who love colors and cooler temps.

I adore the fall season at Mount Rainier. The leaves turn into this beautiful mix of orange, yellow, and red. It’s a bit chilly, but the breathtaking scenery makes up for it.

Winter: A Wonderland of Snow


Winter is from late November to March. Expect temperatures to range from 20°F to 40°F (-6°C to 4°C). Snowfall is abundant.


The park is less crowded, except during holidays.

Facilities and Visitor Centers
  • Sunrise: Closed in winter.
  • Paradise: Open on weekends with limited facilities.
Other Important Information
  • Most trails are covered in snow.
  • Activities switch to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
  • You’ll need a permit for winter camping.

Winter here isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s totally worth it if you love snow.

We visited during Christmas and it was like stepping into a winter wonderland. The snowshoe trails were a fun experience. Just make sure you’re well-prepared for the cold!

Each season offers a different yet equally mesmerizing experience at Mount Rainier National Park. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, you’ll find something to love in this natural paradise.

So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure, regardless of when you choose to visit.

Mount Ranier Tour Tip (from Seattle)

Mt. Rainier Full-Day Tour – Walk or Snowshoe. Coming from Seattle? This is an amazing guided hike or snowshoe adventure with an excellent tour guide. Including lunch and pick-up and drop-off at your hotel in Seattle.



Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits.

You can start your adventures either at Sunrise Visitor Center or Paradise. Both can be reached by car. Check detailed opening hours for both centers here: NPS Mt. Ranier Operating Hours

Sunrise vs. Paradise

Sunrise (Map Location)

The highest place in Mt. Rainier National Park (6400 feet) is located on the east side and not on the mountain itself. Usually, it’s completely closed from late September or early October until early July. Smaller than Paradise, it has some of the best views of the Mountain. The gorgeous miles of wildflower meadows, hiking trails to very high places and stunning views make this place so special. A visitor described the difference between Paradise and Sunrise like that: Sunrise is more barren and harsh.

Paradise (Map Location)

Bigger than Sunrise, and most of its facilities are open year-round. It’s also more crowded with buses of tourists in the peak season. And it’s the departure point for climbers. It’s not as high as Sunrise, but at 5100 feet and being on the mountain, there is usually snow well into July. The weather at Paradise can be worse than at Sunrise sometimes, which is protected by the mountain. You can check current weather or even crowded parking areas via the official webcams: NPS Webcams Mt Ranier

Useful Tips

  • Check the official Twitter Page for updates, road closures and more
  • Arrive early or late in peak months to dodge the crowds
  • Dress in layers, even in the summer. Bring rain gear
  • Choose your preferred Hiking Trail before you go
  • For day hikes no permit is required. For wilderness overnight camping you need one.
  • Slow down, be quiet, turn off your cell phone and every other device! Just look, listen, and feel this majestic area


Helpful Links

Great blog by National Park Rangers: Mount Rainier Climbing


Save the 3 Best Activities

2 thoughts on “Mount Rainier National Park”

  1. This park is both special and spectacular. Of course there’s The Mountain, but the various ecosystems and terrain (and weather changes!) make for a new experience each visit. It’s a good idea to check the latest weather and snowfall levels, depending on the time of year. Although, the Pinnacle Peak trail had about 5 feet of snow one time in July.

  2. Spring is just around the corner. The Sunrise area of Mt. Rainier on the North East side will open soon and be buzzing with hikers and photographers. But first, before you head out, be sure and check to make sure the roads are open and that there are no park advisories in effect. Here are a few photos from some of my day and night hikes.

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