Waterfalls of Mt Rainier National Park

Rob Taylor at Comet Falls in Mt Rainier National Park 2traveldads.com
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There are few things that we’re just suckers for:  lighthouses, bathrobes, and waterfalls.  When you’re heading to the mountains to go hiking, you can only count on getting one of those boxes checked off, and it’s waterfalls.  Mt Rainier National Park is an easy day trip or multi-day camping destination for any type of traveler, and with this comes several great waterfalls right at your fingertips.  We have been with and without kids and have some ideas of how to get the most from your waterfall walks and hikes.  Mt Rainier National Park has made it easy to experience the beautiful glacial cascades, so why not?  The waterfalls of Mt Rainier National Park are one of the treasures of the pacific northwest and they’re not to be missed.

The Waterfalls of Mt Rainier National Park are beautiful and they are everywhere. See which ones are the easiest to access with the most value for your time. 2traveldads.comA quick reminder about the waterfalls of Mt Rainier National park, or anywhere ever:  waterfalls and their grandeur are dependent on the weather.  Whether the weather is hot weather or wet weather will determine whether or not there are falls… in any sort of weather.  The best time to see falls in almost any destination is spring, as there’s usually a fair amount of rain AND there’s snow melt.  In Mt Rainier National Park this is exceptionally true.  For a full list from the National Park Service, view it here, but note that a lot of these aren’t accessible.

We’ve put together what we consider the must-see waterfalls that are the most easily accessible in the park.  You know us and we like to give out travel tips for out to be most efficient for family travel, because wasted time when you’re traveling with kids is just a bummer.  Knowing that, we’re totally not covering the gazillion options for seeing the waterfalls of Mt Rainier National Park… and that’s okay.

 

The Waterfalls of Mt Rainier National Park

Narada Falls

Narada Falls Rainbow Mist in Mt Rainier National Park 2traveldads.comWe start with this beautiful waterfall because it’s got a lot to offer, from a view, a hike, an overlook…

You can get an impression of Narada Falls from the parking area above it.  It has a beautiful creek feeding it and there are restrooms if you need.  Beyond this though, it’s work doing the ¼ mile stroll down to the view point.  This is NOT an easy trail despite how short it is.  The trail to the viewpoint is super duper steep and the path is uneven.  It’s a beast.  It’s a tiny beast, but a beast nonetheless.

Tip:  small kids or kids prone to tripping NEED to hold hands or be carried on this short trail.  I feel like I’m being the overly cautious parent, but yeah, it’s just a tough trail and it would be such a bummer to fall and get hurt to start your day…

Narada Falls is one of the best of all the waterfalls of Mt Rainier National Park for so many reasons.  We most appreciate and value the mist from the falls.  If you’re there at the right time of day, you always get a rainbow.  I guess that’s true of any waterfall, but when you’re there with kids it makes it more magical and give them some value for doing the ridiculous walk down the long, steep hill.

Narada Falls can also be approached from a much longer hike that begins way down the Nisqually River across from the Cougar Rock campground.  To start, you must first cross a series of log bridges over the raging glacial river, and that part alone is…exhilarating.  We love this hike because it’s nicely split between hiking in the woods, along streams and through low growing lush hillsides.  It’s a fairly easy hike that can definitely be done with kids.  And the hike ends at Narada Falls, so if you’re not feeling like hiking back down, have somebody pick you up at the top.

Comet Falls

Comet Falls in Mt Rainier National Park 2traveldads.comWe love a good elevation gain, especially when there’s a great reason for it.  This hike definitely gives you the exercise you’re looking for from the start.  It also blasts you with beauty and cool mists at the top of the first ascent.  Log bridges and mossy streams guide you the rest of the way.

Along the trail you’ll encounter plenty of streams and small waterfalls that, you can tell, are the life-blood of Mt Rainier National Park.  They are teaming with life, most visibly the moss and trees growing on the banks.  

Tip:  take breaks in the shady spots on the trail, as they’re all beautiful and the trail is long enough and on a hot day it’s scorching enough that you’ll regret bypassing cool resting spots.

Once you’ve gone through oodles of forests, crossed several streams and then traversed some hillsides where you felt the sun was going to burn your skin off, you finally come around the corner to a breathtaking view of Comet Falls.  From there it’s an easy walk down to the base of the falls.  It’s the most wonderful place in Mt Rainier National Park to sit and watch nature do its thing.

Tip:  if you’d like another challenge, continue onto Van Trump Meadows.  You’ll get another awesome elevation gain, you’ll move into the stubby alpine forests and your views will change from mossy creeks to sweeping views of the Nisqually Valley and Tatoosh Range.

Bloucher Falls Van Trump Creek in Mt Rainier National Park 2traveldads.comAnd since you’re doing this trail, you’ll also get to see Bloucher Falls.  It’s a treat when you consider the many factors that make waterfalls beautiful.  It has the crystal clear water, the multi level cascade, the moss and greenery and lots of places to sit and appreciate it.  It used to be more hidden, but after a few season of really high water levels, the area around the falls got cleared out, leaving it a bit scarred, but beautiful.

Tip:  if you’re not up for going all the way to Comet Falls, Bloucher falls is only 1.5 miles in on the trail and is an easier, shorter hike.  It does drop 120 feet across its three levels, so it’s not going to disappoint.

Christine Falls

Rob Taylor and Dudes at Christine Falls with Rustic Stone Bridge Mt Rainier National ParkThis is, hands down, the most picturesque of all the waterfalls of Mt Rainier National Park.  Why?  Not only does crystal clear water cascade down several rocky levels, but the viewpoint is below the falls… with a perfect National Park Service rustic stone bridge in front of it.  You can appreciate Christine Falls from the road or you can take two minutes to walk down to the viewpoint.  It’s not an accessible viewpoint, so know that strollers and wheelchairs can’t make it.

This is a beautiful spot, but not one to linger at.  It’s worth taking a five minute sit, but it’s not picnicable.  And if you want to catch the upper falls that’s not visible from the viewpoint, there is a trail across the road that you can take.  It’s a beautiful little gorge.  Worth checking out.

Tip:  make this stop early in the day to get the best light for a picture.  If you’re doing a family picture or just trying to capture the falls, morning light is the best for catching the falls when they’re glistening at their finest.

 

Myrtle Falls

Myrtle Falls in Mount Rainier National Park 2traveldads.comFinally, a walk that you can take a stroller on.  From the Paradise Inn or visitor’s center it’s a ten minute walk, maybe fifteen, up to the top of Myrtle Falls.  This is one of the more mellow waterfalls of Mt Rainier National Park, but it’s one of the most beautiful.  Why?  Um, just look:

As you can see, it’s the only waterfall that has Mt Rainier perfectly positioned behind it.  That’s why we saved it for last.  It’s the perfect waterfall.  You cannot bring a stroller down the hill to the viewpoint for the falls, but you can easily appreciate the beautiful feeder creek with the Mt Rainier looking directly over the stream.  It’s just so perfect.

Tip:  you can easily bring a picnic to this viewpoint.  You can sit and watch the falls if you like, but it’s a bit busy with tourists.  The better spot for a picnic is next to the creek just above the falls.  There are a few benches, but bring a little picnic blanket instead. It’s worth toting up there for the most beautiful sit you can have in all of Washington state.

And if you’re looking for the prettiest waterfall in Mt Rainier National Park with the easiest hike and the best return on your time-investment, check out our post on Silver Falls in the Ohanapecosh area.  Really amazing.

This summer we’ll be exploring the eastern waterfalls of Mt Rainier National Park, so we’ll be sure to share our tips about those too.  If you know of some must-see waterfalls around the Pacific Northwest that are ideal for family travel, let us know.  Leave a comment or drop us a line so we can go explore!

 


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35 Responses

  • Guys, you’ve done it again; I’m totally craving a good National Park vacay now! I love how comprehensive this post is. I feel like I’ve got all the information I need to make my visit very memorable. Thanks for sharing.

  • I love your posts about waterfalls! There are so many in the US! By the time we’ll get there, I will follow the 2traveldads waterfall tour throughout the USA 🙂 Beautiful photos too!

  • We are huge fans of waterfalls and have satisfied our passion for them this one year in new zealand, even got to swim in so many of them smile emoticon your waterfall pictures look stunning, especially comet falls and myrtle falls, definitely need to visit some of these ourselves!

  • I am a huge fan of waterfalls, even though my biggest highlight was Niagra (of course!) and a tiny little 30m high ‘fall’ in Cyprus – I think the beauty of the one in Cyprus was just the overall hike down (and back up a little less fun)! All these falls looks great but if I had to pick, I would go Myrtle Falls – I mean it must be easy if you can bring a stroller 😛 Love the photos as always guys! Great post!

  • Awesome post!!! I love the Pacific Northwest, but I’m a Vermont girl, so my explorations there are going VERY slowly. I have never been to Mount Rainier National Park – I’ve only seen it from Seattle. You’ve got me dreaming up ways to remedy the situation. I love the look of Comet Falls. Also, I love that you’re into lighthouses, bathrobes, and waterfalls. I’m following you on social media so we can keep in touch. Loving your blog.

  • I love the way you have encapsulated the tips within each waterfall that you have recommended. I might just take a leaf out of your book.

  • We have not hiked to waterfalls before- what a great reward for a hike! Now that the kids are older we can add this to the list of things we want to do!

  • Beautiful Pictures! Great tips on the best time of year to go and which ones are good for picnics. That’s good info to know when planning your trip.

    • Thank you sir! And these are all very doable by almost anybody. I personally have a blown knee that’s never fully recovered and I can do it carrying kids. Like with any hiking, there’s a few spots along the way that make you want to take a break, but for the most part, it’s all well traveled and practical for anybody to tackle.

  • The waterfalls look so beautiful! Whenever we visit Washington, we usually just stay in Seattle. Now, I’m pretty motivated to explore outside of Seattle and see what Mt Rainier has to offer.

  • Wow this is such a stunning area! We have no waterfalls around us. I’ve seen a couple, but none that big and especially not as beautiful as these. I really need to go on a lot of trips to America. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures with #whatevertheweather xx

  • We will be working our way along the west coast of America in the next year this has just been added to the itinerary thank you. Great pictures.

  • This looks amazing! I love all the scenery in that area and had no idea how beautiful it could be. We love walking too and waterfalls are definitely the best find on long walks. Although we don’t have the heat you have there! Thanks so much for linking up your fantastic walks with #Whatevertheweather 🙂 x

  • This is another post that reminds me that there is so much beauty in North America. I’m always off galavanting in SE Asia (I know how terrible that sounds, but it’s so much cheaper!) that it is easy to forget that.

    Are you guys using any special filters to take your pictures? This is the one I am referring to specifically, https://2traveldads.com/2016/03/05/waterfalls-mt-rainier-national-park/#jp-carousel-3371. I can never get rainbows to actually show up in my pictures.

    • You can’t tell my secrets… but I catch the rainbows two ways: 1.) focusing on the medium light of the picture and basing exposure off that and 2.) I still use film sometimes; film creates wonderful pictures.

  • Hi Rob and Chris,

    Thank you for all the tips and the photos. There is nothing more beautiful than connecting to the Nature! I took some notes so as to keep the in mind when I visit the waterfalls. Keep traveling and inspiring!

    Zaria

  • Impressive list! With how much snow Mt. Rainer gets it makes sense there would be a lot of cool waterfalls. I had no idea there would be that many though. Very cool.

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