Spend Some Time in Paradise, Washington This Summer

The area called Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park is famous for the best views of the mountain and the most beautiful meadows. It is a great place for snow-related activities in the winter, but if you really want to feel like you are in Paradise, visit it in July or August, when the wildflowers bloom, and enjoy the spectacle of the meadows. This wildflower spectacle is even more special since it only lasts a few weeks out of the year, being in the snowiest place of the mountain. Even in late June, the meadows are under a few feet of snow, it is hard to imagine the colors that enchant by end of summer.

Stop at the New Visitor Center

The new Paradise Jackson Visitor Center replaced an older one in 2008, and now it is one of the best visitor centers of any National Park. There are numerous hands-on exhibits where you can learn just about everything about the surrounding mountains and about volcanoes. A small movie theater where the new film about Mt. Rainier is playing, and there is a ranger station, gift shop and cafeteria. The building was designed in accordance with the rest of the National Park buildings, and it truly looks like it belongs there, like it is part of the scenery.

Take a Hike or Two

Right by the visitor center you have a choice of a few short or longer hikes to go on. There are miles upon miles of trails in and around the Visitor Center and Paradise Inn to choose from. If you go in August, you have the most beautiful views of the colorful flower-filled meadows.

A few of the hikes are easy, with an elevation gain of only about 100-200 feet, and take you through meadows blanketed by pink heather, bright red and magenta paintbrush, purple shooting stars, fireweed, avalanche lilies, and so many more wildflowers. If you are lucky, you might see wildlife on some of these trails as well.

The trail to Myrtle Falls is one example, starting right by the Visitor Center, or by Paradise Inn, and it is barely more than a mile long. If you keep walking past the falls though, you get a real treat, since you end up in a meadow filled with purple flowers.

Emese Fromm

Dine or Spend a Night in Paradise Inn Lodge

Built in 1916, Paradise Inn is 100 years old, though they will hold off the centennial celebration until next year, to coincide with the anniversary of its opening. The Inn is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and is part of the Mount Rainier Historic Landmark District. Built in the National Park Service Rustic Style, it has exposed cedar logs throughout. The original building is two stories high, with the great hall and the dining room taking up most of the ground floor, and a mezzanine level wrapping around the great hall. The rustic furniture was created by a German-born carpenter using only local material. Two huge fireplaces stand on both sides of the great room. The hotel part, with more than 100 rooms, was added later. Even if you don't get a chance to spend a night here, try to have a meal in the restaurant, it will be worth it.

Emese Fromm is a freelance writer and translator, who has visited Mount Rainier National Park often over the years. She has been there in many different seasons, and found that August is her favorite time there.