I like to be prepared, but I’m not a list person. Which is why on our last trip to Mount Rainier I had sunburned, bug-bitten kids. Don’t be like me. Pack these things and know this stuff before you go to Mount Rainier National Park.
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What to Know Before You Go to Mount Rainier
Here’s the most important thing to know before you head up to Mount Rainier: it is crazy popular. Like, I have waited in line for three hours on the side of the road to enter the park crazy. For best results, you want to avoid peak times. If you are not super attached to wildflower season, consider going earlier (like May/June) or later (like September/October).
Depending what time of year you go, sunrise might be closed, but Paradise and Longmire will be open. Midweek is always better than weekends, and you want to head in to the park either very early or late afternoon. Otherwise, you will find full parking lots. Some trailheads only have a few spots available on the side of the road, so come prepared with contingency plans.
But most of all, bring along what you will need for the day. If you do end up in long lines, the experience will be made better by not being sunburned, bug-bitten, or hungry. Here are some of our favorite things to bring along!
Things to Pack on a Day Trip to Mount Rainier with Kids
Sunscreen: At this high elevation, the sun’s rays are brutal. Pack and reapply.
Bug spray: Especially near lakes, you may be unpleasantly surprised by these tiny “friends”
A jacket: This is Washington. The weather changes on a dime, and even when it’s warm and sunny down below, it can be misty and cold on the mountain. There’s a reason the gift shops do brisk business in sweatshirts. Come prepared for possible cold and rain.
Snacks and Drinks: For a heavily trafficked park, I am sometimes surprised by the limited food service, and it’s a long way to the closest town. Make sure to stop at Longmire if you are looking for a general store.
Explorer Gear: If you have Junior Rangers, check out our list of the best gear for little outdoor explorers. Binoculars are a must…and don’t forget a camera they can use!