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To take the most popular route through the park you actually have to first pass the volcano and go to the entrance in the Southwest corner. It's about a 2-2.5 hour drive from Seattle.
The route through the park follows Paradise Road to Steven's Canyon Road. That eventually takes you to HWY 123 and then 410. The path out of the park took us up the east side of it and eventually through Auburn, WA.
You can probably get through the park in an hour if you don't stop, but why you want to do that?
Shortly inside the park we came to one of the first viewpoints -- Kautz Creek. As you can see, it was a beautiful day. This should be a perfect day for volcano viewing right? Well, here's the view of the mountain, 180 degrees from the picture above.
The top of the volcano is wrapped in clouds. So for much of the day, we had a great view of the base of it. Regardless, there were plenty of great views.
The park is filled with waterfalls. After all, all that snow on top of the mountain has to go someplace. A short distance later, we made it to Christine Falls.
This water fall was nicely framed by the road bridge.
Nature can be an impressively stubborn beast. Here a tree is growing out of a rock wall.
Mt Rainier has a wide assortment of glaciers that grow and contract over the years. In the nineteenth century, the Nisqually glacier extended all the way past the bridge in the center of this picture. It's a bit smaller now.
A few more miles down the road, and you reach Narada Falls.
There is a short, steep trail to the best vantage point. And from that vantage point, you can almost always see a rainbow down below.
Eventually, we reached the Jackson Visitor Center. I believe this is the highest point in the park you can reach by car.
The volcano continued to hide.
It's tough to get a sense of the scale of the volcano. If you click on this image, it will take you to a larger version. See the tiny dots on it? Those are people climbing it.
The meadows at the foot of the volcano are known for amazing summertime bursts of color and thousands of wild flowers. This year, they were still buried under feet of snow. It was an odd Spring apparently.
There were still a few wild flowers on the way our out of the park at the lower altitudes.
And this one, which I used as my example yesterday, features a bundle of flowers growing out of a drainage hole in the wall.
Mt Rainier is a beautiful park to visit. The volcano is amazing whether you see it from above or below.
Even when you can't see it.
I took a bunch more pictures, too. Some of them are available here. I'll add more in the coming months, too.