Complete Guide to Mount Rainier National Park with Kids

Mount Rainier National Park is covered is beauty. The great part? There are plenty of kid-friendly hikes in Mount Rainier. It makes the perfect family vacation for those seeking nature and adventure, and maybe even affordability. Find everything you need to know about visiting and finding the best hikes in Mount Rainier National Park with kids.

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Find the best things to do in Mt Rainier National Park!

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What You Need to Know About Mt Rainier National Park

Where is Mount Rainier National Park?

This beautiful national park is located in the state of Washington. To access the park, you’ll want to fly into Seattle (SEA) airport. From the Seattle airport, it is south and slightly east and takes just under 2 hours to the Nisqually Entrance. The Nisqually Entrance is located at the southwest corner of the park (and where many of the listed activities below are accessed.)

The park surrounds the famous Mount Rainier mountain, a scenic spot for many photographers, adventurers, and a challenging climb for mountaineers.

How Many Days Do You Need in Mount Rainier National Park

We spent 2-1/2 days in the park, and felt like that was a good amount of time to visit. We have four younger kids, so we enjoy our hikes and take our time. We take breaks, and we don’t do anything too difficult. If you are not traveling with kids, this may lessen your time as you may move quicker. Or, you may want more time as you are able to do longer hikes. But this is a family blog 😊, so I would recommend a solid 2-3 days to really see everything recommended below.

Is Mt Rainier National Park Crowded?

In the summer months, yes. Both the website and people we talked to say it can take hours waiting at the entrance in the summer. So if you are visiting in the summer, plan ahead, leave early, and know that parking lots may be full!

We visited in October, in which my answer is no! It was not crowded at all. We never waited even 30 seconds at an entrance, never had trouble parking, and rarely ran into more than a few people on trails.

How is the Weather in Mt Rainier National Park?

I mentioned we visited in October. And it wasn’t crowded. Now we know why; it was quite rainy. It didn’t rain 24/7 and we definitely had some patches of sunshine. But it was at least overcast for the majority of the time.

Summer will bring more sunshine with July and August being the sunniest. But the weather changes rapidly and often. It is highly recommended to bring a rain coat to stay dry and warm. If you’re traveling to Mt Rainier National Park with kids, take into account if they will do well in chilly temps and rain…or not.

What is the Best Time to Visit Mount Rainier?

Do you prefer good weather, or less crowds? The best weather is July and August. Less crowds are spring and fall. I would not visit in winter as you run into road closures, limiting how much of the park you can see. If you do visit in winter, chains are required on cars that are not AWD (Nov-May).

Where to Stay near Mount Rainier National Park

There are a few great options of places to stay IN Mount Rainier.

Mt Rainier National Park Hotels

Mt Rainier national park for families hotel

Through the Nisqually entrance, one option is the Paradise Inn. This hotel is up at a high elevation, giving great views anywhere you look. It’s on the Paradise loop, which has access to a few great hikes and sites. However, this hotel is only opened seasonally, as the Paradise Loop road is seasonal.

Mt Rainier national park hotels for families

The other choice of hotel in Mt Rainier National Park is the National Park Inn. This is located a few minutes inside the Nisqually entrance near the Longmire museum and old homestead. On site is a general store with a small selection of food items, souvenirs, and camping supplies. There is also a restaurant in this scenic hotel.

Mt Rainier National Park Accommodations- Outside the Park

Outside the park is the Gateway Inn. You could literally throw a rock from the hotel and it would land at the entrance sign, it’s that close. They have cute little cabins and even a little store on site.

Mt Rainier national park Gateway inn

If these hotels aren’t what you’re looking for (or are booked up), try for a nearby rental. We stayed in a rental that was about .5 miles from the entrance and it was awesome! Our rental we stayed at isn’t available anymore, but the cabins/cottages in this area we stayed are so close and convenient to the park, and all have a beautiful setting. Sometimes it’s nice to have a rental property when you travel with kids. They often offer much more space as well as kitchens to help with food.


Looking for more exploring in Washington? Check out

Hiking With Kids in Olympic National Park

Road Trip! What to do in Seattle and the surrounding area with kids


Now for Things to do with Kids in Mount Rainier National Park :

Mount Rainier National Park Easy Hikes for Kids

Mount Rainier National Park hikes are plentiful and beautiful. We visited quite a bit in our couple days. For organization purposes, I’ll start with the farthest stop from Nisqually entrance and work back toward the entrance in this Mount Rainier hikes for kids guide. Here are the top things to do with kids in Mount Rainier National Park:

Grove of the Patriarchs easy trail for kids in Mt Rainier

Distance: 1.1 miles round trip

Level: Easy

To access Grove of Patriarchs from the west side of Mount Rainier National Park, it’s actually quicker if you go around the south part of the park instead of thru the park. You can enter through the Stevens Canyon Entrance up through Packwood.

Tip: pull up your map before leaving your accommodation, as there is rarely a signal as you travel!

Grove of the Patriarchs is an easy trail for kids. Plus, there’s a cool hanging bridge to cross! There are many posted signs to teach about the large cedars and firs throughout the trail. The firs can get up to 500 feet and reach 1,000 years old, while the cedars reach about 200 feet and were incredible resources to the Northwest Indians.

Photo Ops abound as well in front of these giant trees, trunks, and exposed fallen roots. Toward the end, there is a small loop which will bring you back to the main trail after completing.

There is a large sign for accessing Grove of the Patriarchs off the road. The parking lot is decent, but not huge and could fill quickly during busy season. There is a bathroom at the parking lot as well as a picnic table.

Mt Rainier national park for families silver falls hike

Silver Falls – Mount Rainier National Park Waterfalls

Distance: 1 mile round trip

Level: Easy

The sign for Silver Falls is quite small…if it hasn’t blown away. To access Silver Falls, park at the same place as the Grove of the Patriarchs. Then, just cross the street and you’ll see the trailhead for the “East Side Trail”.

Silver Falls is beautiful and so is the journey there. It’s a great hike for kids with a big reward. You’ll get to pass a couple cool, smaller waterfalls on the way to your destination.

Mt Rainier national park for families  silver falls

Weather changes quickly at Mt Rainier. It is wet!! Make sure to pack a rain coat, waterproof hiking shoes, and even umbrellas. Plus, you should always have plenty of water and snacks when you’re hiking. Check out our favorite packs to carry it all in and hiking gear:

Box Canyon easy stop with kids in Mt Rainier National Park

Distance: Viewpoint or .25 miles

Level: easy

Box Canyon is a quick pullover viewpoint that kids think is pretty fun. When you arrive at Box Canyon, park in the main lot. Then walk up to the fence where you’ll see a massive drop into a canyon with water below.

If you cross the street and walk for a short time to the bridge (maybe a quarter mile?), you’ll have a view right over the crack. This deep 115 foot crevice has a river run through it. This little view is about the journey as well, as we felt like we were in Alice in Wonderland seeing the beautifully moss covered rock.

This trail is easy and stroller-friendly, so take everyone along!

Mt Rainier national park for families box canyon

Bench Lake with kids in Mt Rainier National Park

Distance: 1.4 miles round trip

Level: Easy

Bench Lake is less than a mile one-way with beautiful trails and scenery. The trail is maintained, though not smooth. It does have some elevation, but easy enough for kids. If they are up for a longer hike, Snow Lake is a half-mile beyond and brings great views as well, along with some climbing.

Reflection Lake – easy stop with kids in Mt Rainier National Park

Distance: viewpoint (or short walk up close)

Level: easy

Reflection Lake is pretty iconic when it comes to Mount Rainier National Park. This is a highly photographed area, where on a clear day you can see a pristine reflection of Mt Rainier in the water in all its glory. The best part is that kids can easily participate in this magical moment! There is a small pull-off parking lot alongside Reflection Lake. You can simply stay on the sidewalk near the lot to take in the view. Even better, there is an opening in the short wall right in the middle where you can go down closer to the lake and walk on the trail for some great view points.

Strollers can stay on the sidewalk near the lot, but there are stairs down to the trail near the lake.

Mt Rainier national park for families Reflection Lake with Mt Rainier in the background

Nisqually Vista Trail easy trail with kids

Distance: 1.2 miles

Level: Easy

(and stroller-friendly in good weather)

Nisqually Vista Trail was one of my kids favorite trails. Mainly because it’s so high up that there was snow when we visited, so they took a lot of time to build mini snowmen.

To access the Nisqually Vista Trail, head onto the Paradise Loop. The parking lot is the lot just before the lot for the Paradise Inn. You can’t see much in the lot until you drive further in. Then, you’ll notice a private residence at the end of the lot. There are many trailheads off this parking lot; the trailhead for the Nisqually Vista loop is down by this home, all the way at the end of the lot.

This trail is paved and easy. There are some hills up and down, but nothing too strenuous. Strollers could easily come on this trail in good weather. We went in October, and it would have been hard to use a stroller as there were many patches of snow all along the trail.

There is a loop in this trail where you’ll find viewpoints to stop and take in the top of Mount Rainier. It’s really a great viewpoint, so make sure to take lots of pictures.

Mt Rainier national park for families Nisqually Vista trail

Myrtle Falls – Mount Rainier National Park Waterfalls

Distance: .8 miles round trip

Level: easy

Myrtle Falls itself if beautiful, but really the whole hike (walk) there is gorgeous. You’ll have colors of different foliage all around the trail, plus great view of Mount Rainier along the trail.

To access Myrtle Falls, park at the Paradise Inn. Tip: park as far back/up as you can. There’s a main lot at the bottom, and then a few parking spaces beyond that in the back. This is where access to the trail is. Up here, there are two places to access the trail. It’s not a big difference on either trail as they meet up shortly.

The trail to Myrtle falls is paved and easy, though it does have a bit of an incline. You’ll eventually turn off for the viewpoint of Myrtle Falls (or continue to head to the bridge to see if from above). When you turn, there are some large rock steps down.

A stroller could come on this trail until the turn off. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can leave the stroller at the top of the turn off. It’s a very short distance (10-20 yards, maybe) from the turnoff to the falls viewpoint.

Mt Rainier national park for families Myrtle falls trail
Myrtle falls in Mt Rainier national park for families

Narada Falls easy waterfall hike with kids

Distance: .3 miles roundtrip

Level: easy

You can see Narada Falls 3 different ways. From Stevens Canyon Road, just west of Reflection Lake, there is a pull off area where you can head all the way to the right of the lot and see Narada Falls down below.

You can also drive down to where Narada Falls is and pull into the parking lot there. You can get out and see the viewpoint which puts you right in between the top and bottom sections of the falls. You’re very close, but you can’t really see the bottom falls from here.

I suggest taking the short hike from this lower parking lot. It’s not long, though it is a little steep. This short hike takes you to a beautiful viewpoint to see the falls from the bottom. It’s totally doable with kids and they’ll love the quick hike!

Narada falls in Mt Rainier national park for families

Christine Falls easy waterfall hike with kids in Mt Rainier National Park

Distance: ~.5 mile round trip

Level: easy

You can see Christine falls right from the road a few miles west of Narada falls. You’ll go over a bridge where Christine Falls will be very close. If you keep driving west slightly, you’ll come to a small parking lot. There, head to the right side of the lot and you’ll see the trailhead to see Christine Falls from a bridge. You’ll also be able to see more falls as they cascade into pools one after another. This is a really cool viewpoint.

The hike does have a little incline to it, but it is short and sweet.

Christine Falls in Mt Rainier national park for families

Comet Falls Waterfall hike in Mount Rainier National Park

Distance: 3.6 miles

Level: Medium, difficult in parts

The hike to Comet Falls is gorgeous, but it is a bit more difficult. I would recommend this hike for older kids. My 9 and 11 year old did fine with it, but it did feel long to them. My 4 and 6 year old did fine for the majority of the time, but daddy did carry the 4-year-old during a few parts that were challenging. The 6 year old did it by herself, but stopped for a lot of breaks because there is a lot of incline.

This hike gains over 1,200 feet in just over a mile-and-a-half. It has some challenging parts like rocky areas and steep stairs. If you are on the forest floor, you’re most likely inclining and watching for rock and roots.

At the top, you need to cross a river. You can use the rocks for this, but they can be slippery. We used a fallen log which requires a little balance. The older kids walked across fine, but we held the hands of the younger ones. And on the way back, daddy just straddled between two rocks and passed kids across!

Challenging as it is, if the kids are up for it, Comet Falls is a beautiful, tall waterfall falling off the side of a large mountain. Plus, there are a few smaller waterfalls on the way up to enjoy.

To access it: Park in the same lot as for Christine Falls. You’ll continue hiking past Christine falls. The trail is pretty well defined until you get to the river. Cross the river and go left where you’ll see a small sign for Comet Falls pointing left. Walk about 10-20 yards and there will be a trail that goes up. Take that trail (it took us a few minutes to realize that). It’s just a short walk beyond that!

Walking across a log on the river to Comet Falls
Comet falls, a tall beautiful waterfall in Mt Rainier national park

Trail of the Shadows– easy hike for kids (walk)

Distance: .7 mile loop

Level: Easy

The Trail of the Shadows is located right across the main road from the Longmire museum. Park anywhere in the Longmire area and use the paths to take you to a crosswalk across the road. You’ll see a sign for Trail of the Shadows. This is a really fun hike for kids in Mt Rainier National Park.

At 63 years old, James Longmire climbed Mt Rainier and during that same trip he discovered the mineral springs in the now Longmire area. Long ago, the springs were the center of a health spa where people would come stay. Only one of the cabins remains along the trail, but there are many springs still there. You’ll really enjoy the rusty spring, the water color a brownish orange. You can see the carbon dioxide bubbles forming on the surface of the springs.

While they were once used for health and wellness, you should not drink any of the water in the springs today.

Along the trail, you also learn all about different components of the forest, why fallen trees are actually vital to the ecosystem, and what the edge ecosystem is.

We almost didn’t do this trail because of time, but we ended up going back into the park before we left the area. I’m really glad we did! The kids loved how easy and short the trail was, but they loved seeing the springs, cabin, and learning about the forest and how everything plays a part. I would definitely recommend this kids hike in Mt Rainier National Park.

Mt Rainier national park easy hikes Trail of shadows
Mt Rainier national park easy hikes Trail of shadows spring

Hiking with kids: things to do in Mount Rainier National Park

Those were our favorite hikes and things to do in Mount Rainier National Park. We covered a lot and had a blast. If you really need to keep things easier, the only hike I wouldn’t recommend is Comet Falls. But again, if you’ve got older kids that are ripe for adventure, they will like this. Everything else is a pretty easy hike or walk. Traveling with kids is so enjoyable when you plan plenty of kid-friendly things to do at Mt Rainier National Park.

Have you been to Mt Rainier National Park? Did I miss your favorite kid-friendly hike? Have you done any of these, or is there one you’d love to do? Comment below!

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30 thoughts on “Complete Guide to Mount Rainier National Park with Kids”

  1. Thanks for this comprehensive list of hikes! I haven’t been to Mt. Rainier since I was a [young] kid myself, but I would love to go back and explore more; I remember it being quite beautiful! It seems that the best time to visit a lot of the U.S. national parks is in the spring or fall; I’ll keep that in mind when planning my trip. Xx Sara

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment! That’s wonderful you were able to go as a kid. My kids absolutely loved it, so I bet it has plenty of memories for you!

      Reply
  2. I have been to the east of Washington and not seen Mount Rainier yet. I would love to do the short hikes like the Silver falls and Myrtle falls. Your images are beautiful! I am adding this to my bucket list. Thank you for the detailed information on Mount Rainier. 🙂

    Reply
  3. We have been close to Mt Rainier many times but we have not yet explored the Mt Rainier National Park. Good to know that we will need 2-3 days to really enjoy the park. I love that there are several different hikes to do. And such great sights along the way. The waterfalls would be a big draw for us.

    Reply
  4. I love the diversity of trails. Our son is nearly 15 now so he can hike much farther, but so many of these trails would have been perfect for him especially when he had shorter legs. Thanks for all the information.

    Reply
  5. We plan to visit Seattle next year and Mount Rainier is on my list to visit. My kids love hiking so this post will come so handy for us later on. Thank you for putting it together. I am pinning it for later.

    Reply
  6. This is definitely a park that is on my must-see list. My husband grew up in Vancouver and has some awesome pics of Mt. Rainier. I would love to see it and take some pictures of my own.

    Reply
  7. I don’t have kids (yet!) but I’d love to visit Mount Rainier National park one day, it looks so beautiful, and it seems like there’s so many great things to do there. Thanks for this guide!

    Reply

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