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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 29, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Mount Rainier National Park opens for summer activities

The road to Sunrise, located on Mt. Rainier’s northeast corner, will open Friday, July 1, just in time for the Fourth of July weekend, and there are plenty of summer time activities to enjoy.

“Visitors will have the opportunity to see for themselves massive amounts of snow, due to near record snowfall this winter,” Mary Kay Nelson, executive director of Visit Rainier said in a news release. “Or to take a drive over Chinook Pass and view the sheer snow walls that surround the highway. It’s a thrilling experience.”

Even with the near record snowfall covering the higher elevations, there are plenty of hiking opportunities at lower elevations.

According to front country rangers at the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center at Silver Creek, many lowland hikes along Highway 410 are easily accessible.

Among the recommended hikes are:

Skookum Flats, along the White River. This level, 8.2 mile hike takes travelers along the river and through old growth forest. It is accessed from Forest Service Road 73 off of Highway 410, outside the town of Greenwater.

The Snoquera Falls Loop trailhead is accessed from Shepard Camp just past mile marker 52. It is 2.8 miles in length, bringing hikers up close to Snoquera Falls.

The Palisades Trail (or Dalles Creek Falls trail) offers moderate elevation gain. Views from the top are worth the extra effort.

The U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center is located at Silver Creek at mile marker 57 off Highway 410, near Crystal Mountain Boulevard. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday through Monday. Front Country Rangers will also be conducting several, daily interpretive walks from the summit of Crystal Mountain throughout the summer. For more information call 360-663-2354.

The Sunrise Visitor Center in Mt. Rainier National Park is still scheduled to open July 8. New exhibits tell the story of the Sunrise area of the park–the volcanic forces that created the mountain, the glaciers that mold the landscape, the plant and animal life of the subalpine meadows, and the tribes that are tied to the area.

A Junior Ranger program at Sunrise also begins July 8 and continues each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 4. Children of all ages are invited to join park staff for fun activities that explain the mountain’s glaciers, habitats, and more. Programs begin at 10 a.m. at the White River Campground Campfire Circle, and generally last one hour. Visitors can also meet at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily for a 45-minute stroll along trails to learn about the natural and cultural history of the Sunrise area. Participants meet at the Sunrise Visitor Center flagpole.

For more information go to the Mt. Rainier National Park website.

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