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Welcome to Paradise

Outdoor Feature

Written by Lauren Hunsberger

Photography by Taryn Emerick

Recreationists and mountaineers can now enjoy updated accommodations when exploring  Washington’s most visited national park.

Earlier this summer, community members gathered to celebrate the reopening of Paradise Inn, the 100-year-old National Historic Landmark and inn located 19 miles into Mount Rainier National Park. The rehabilitation project cost $25 million and took 19 months to complete. Improvements included all-weather insulation, soundproofing and updated bathrooms as well as a complete restoration of the building’s aging foundation. The changes made were designed to provide structural stability for seismic activity, using energy-saving and environmentally friendly practices.

“A lot of buildings have come and gone on the mountain. It’s amazing this one remained after 100 years,” says John O’Connor, superintendent at Korsmo Construction. “With the improvements we made, the next 100 years will be a lot easier. This building will be here for a long time to come.”

Roughly 1.5 million visitors travel to experience the mountain each year. And Paradise Inn is one of few options for indoor sleeping. However, the historic building also represents a dedication to preserving the land and history for future generations of explorers.

During the reopening ceremony, council members of the Nisqually Indian Tribe and Cowlitz Indian Tribe gave tribute through song, dance and story, demonstrating how their ancestors lived in harmony with the mountain and its resources. “This place connects us across the national landscape,” says Mount Rainier’s Historical Architect, Jared Infanger.

This summer there are myriad ways to enjoy Mount Rainier and the surrounding recreational areas. Whether it’s a summit attempt or a casual family day among the wildflowers, book a room at the inn and get a good night’s sleep before or after a day of exploration.

Rails to Ales

July 20, September 8

Ride the rails in a vintage coach while sipping local brews. Depart from the Mount Rainier Railroad depot in Elbe and trek through the Nisqually valley in the foothills of Mount Rainier. The tour ends at a historic logging camp, where the official tastings begin. Each day features different local breweries with representatives discussing the beverages at hand. Lunch, live music and views of other historic locomotives round out a perfect opportunity for an old-fashioned outing.

For more information, visit mtrainierrailroad.com/rails-to-ales

Day Hiking to Camp Muir

July–September

Every weekend from July through September REI hosts guided trips to Camp Muir, the base camp many climbers use to attempt the summit. This day hike, which reaches 10,000 feet, is perfect for those who want a taste of mountaineering or expansive views of the dramatic landscape. Getting up-close glacial views are well worth the work you will put in. REI provides gear, lunch and basic mountaineering lessons.

For more information, please visit rei.com/events/41249/hiking-camp-muir-mt-rainier-national-park

10th Annual Rainier Wine Festival

July 6

Swill Washington’s premier wines while taking in the mountain views at this beloved event. The festival provides a lively atmosphere that includes live music, small bites and plenty of activities that celebrate the local landscape and culture. Please note: This event is not on Mount Rainier but within a short drive.

For more information, please visit visitrainier.com/events/10th-annual-rainier-wine-festival/

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