Seeing Washington state’s Mt. Rainier in Person

[box]It was the first and only time I’ve ever been in a plane and looked “over” at something, rather than “down.”[/box]

The recent tragic news about the gunman in Mt. Rainier got me thinking about my experiences with the famous peak. Since the recent news is so bleak, let’s talk about the good times, shall we?

I have yet to actually visit the national park in Washington, but I’ve seen the mountain twice, both of which left me awestruck. The first time I saw Rainier, I was flying from Chicago to Portland. I hadn’t done my homework and didn’t even know what Rainier was – which made the experience all the more special. As we neared the end of a non-descript flight, I suddenly looked out my window and saw the most massive peak I had ever seen in person. It just got bigger and bigger as we got closer.

I couldn’t believe it – the peak reached as high into the air as the plane I was flying in! It was the first and only time I’ve ever been in a plane and looked “over” at something, rather than “down.”

I was too stunned to think about taking a photo until it was too late, but its majesty made for an unforgettable first impression of Mt. Rainier.

Mt Rainier Washington

During my road trip two years ago, I was again lost in a very mundane travel moment, sitting in my van in the parking lot of a Lacey, Washington Walmart, where I had slept overnight in my vehicle. As I turned around the magic van and pulled out, I saw Rainier again, sitting magically off in the distance, clearly visible through the slightly overcast skies. That’s the photo above.

I never managed to see Rainier again, despite a subsequent four-day stay in Seattle. Either the clouds, the fog or the tall buildings blocked my view for the rest of my trip. A friend from Seattle said he lived there for a month before he even saw the mountain once.

At least I got to see the 14,441-foot peak a couple of times when I was least expecting it.

Have you ever seen Mt. Rainier, or another huge peak that impressed you?

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About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Looking for a hotel? I always recommend where you can easily compare hotel rooms, prices, and availability. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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  1. I used to live in Washington, a city called Maple Valley.. The views of the Mt. there are amazing. I guess you don’t really realize what you have until its gone.. I miss it, miss seeing it on those nice summer sunny days. I moved to Alaska back in June 2011 and its amazing up here too! The mountains are all over the place and are huge! Mt McKinley is nearby, 30 minute drive up the road and I can see it. Pretty massive as well.

  2. I’ve seen Rainier from the highway and it was incredible. I got to go up on Mt. Hood when we were in Oregon and Washington. Western peaks are amazing. Would love to go back one of these days. If you’re ever on the east coast, I highly recommend climbing Mt. Washington in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

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