Day 2 at Mount Rainier National Park, featuring the outside of Alexander’s Lodge in Ashford, where we spent the night (our bedroom was in the turret); the town of Ashford, where we rented chains because they were required in the park; the view from a bridge above a waterfall we took a short walk to; Paradise, on the south slope of the mountain, where almost everything was closed for the season; Cooper Creek Inn & Restaurant, a spot I really adored; the Grove of the Patriarchs trail, heading up north on the east side of the park; and views from the Tipsoo Lake area and driving back south toward home. Now we just need to go back to see the wildflowers in the summertime!
When we were in Grand Teton and Yellowstone in September, we ended up buying a National Parks pass, which we promptly justified by vowing to visit as many of the parks as possible over the next year. In my planning, I realized that the closest National Park to us is Mount Rainier, two and a half hours away, and we’d never been. We never even hear about anyone who goes there, and to be honest we struggled to come up with things we could do there (in November, which I read fifty times over the past few weeks is the worst month to do absolutely anything in the Northwest but it’s not true!). The first thing we did was check out the Longmire Museum, which is small but managed to captivate us (me, with its beautiful taxidermy displays) for what felt like hours but was really only 30 minutes. We headed up the mountain a bit just to see it before it got too dark, and I’m so glad we did because we caught the most incredible sunset. We had dinner at the Inn’s Dining Room and then drove to our place for the night, a room at Alexander’s Lodge, which was lovely. I had so desperately needed to get away from my norm and lie in a bed and do nothing but listen to music and play around with photo editing apps on my phone while Nat was next to me doing the same. I find that in these weeks of super limited daylight you’ve gotta just embrace it and commit to doing nothing to enjoy your life every late fall and winter. Or that’s true for me, anyway.