Mount Rainier National Park is home to the tallest glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, with no shortage of iconic viewpoints, incredible hikes, and magical things to see and do.
But where you stay in a park of nearly 400 square miles can be crucial, potentially saving hours of driving time each day!
This guide covers where to stay near Mount Rainier National Park, including lodges and campgrounds inside the park and hotels, cabins, and vacation rentals outside the park. Plus, I’m sharing tips on how to choose where to stay for your upcoming trip.
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Mount Rainier National Park At-A-Glance
Before diving in, here are a few highlights to help you plan your trip:
- Best Time to Visit: Late July to September is the best time to visit, once the snow has melted and all roads in the park have opened. Snow can stick around until mid-July each year.
- Where to Stay: Two lodges inside the park, Paradise Inn and National Park Inn, provide excellent access to the Paradise area. Outside the park, consider staying at Mountain Meadows Inn or Nisqually Lodge in Ashford, WA.
- How to Get There: The closest airport is in Seattle, 3 hours away. Use Skyscanner to browse flights and find the best price.
- How to Get Around: My favorite way to see Washington is by campervan. I had a fantastic experience renting a luxury campervan through Noma Vans on Outdoorsy. You can also quickly get around by car. I recommend using Rentalcars.com to browse for deals.
- Don’t Forget: Be sure to get an America the Beautiful National Park Pass ahead of time. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and gets you into all 400+ national park sites (including all 3 Washington parks).
Overview of the Regions of Mount Rainier National Park
Before diving into where to stay in Mount Rainier National Park, it’s essential first to understand the layout of Mt Rainier National Park and discuss the five park regions.
Mount Rainier National Park has five main sections, starting on the northern side and moving clockwise:
- Sunrise: Located on the northeastern side of Mount Rainier, Sunrise is known for its stunning mountain views and challenging, high-elevation hiking trails. As the highest part of the park you can drive to, it offers a unique vantage point of the surrounding peaks.
- Ohanapecosh: In the southeastern part of the park, Ohanapecosh offers unique forests reminiscent of the Olympic Peninsula. Visitors can explore wooded trails, hot springs, and the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center.
- Paradise: As one of the most popular regions in Mount Rainier National Park, Paradise lives up to its name with its breathtaking scenery. It features lush meadows filled with wildflowers, stunning vistas of glaciers and waterfalls, and iconic trails like the Skyline Trail.
- Longmire: The historic district of Longmire, located in the southwestern part of the park, offers a glimpse into the park’s past. Visitors can explore the Longmire Museum and more leisurely scenic trails near the Nisqually Entrance.
- Carbon River / Mowich: On the northwest side of Mount Rainier, the Carbon River and Mowich region showcase a remote part of the park, requiring navigating a 20-mile unpaved road. Carbon River / Mowich is an excellent region for hiking and camping away from the crowds.
The two most popular areas of the park are Paradise, on the southern side of the mountain, and Sunrise, on the northeast side. The Nisqually Entrance (closest to Paradise/Longmire) is open year-round. In contrast, the White River Entrance (closest to Sunrise) only opens in the summer.
Overview of Lodging Near Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park is located in central Washington, slightly over 2 hours southeast of Seattle. The park’s 369 square miles are filled with many incredible things to do, from scenic drives to over 250 miles of hiking trails!
Two lodges and four campgrounds are inside the park, spread across the park’s main areas. Most inns and campgrounds are only open seasonally, typically from late May to September, making summer the best time to visit.
In addition to the lodging options inside the park, several gateway towns to Mount Rainier provide options for hotels and vacation rentals.
As previously mentioned, there are five main regions of Mount Rainier. If you plan to stay outside the park, you’ll want to stay in the gateway town that is closest to where you plan to spend most of your time:
- Paradise & Longmire: Stay in Ashford, WA
- Sunrise: Stay in Crystal Mountain, WA
- Ohanapecosh: Stay in Packwood, WA (also okay for Paradise/Sunrise as it is more centralized)
- Carbon River / Mowich: There aren’t many towns nearby, so if you want to stay in this region, plan to camp instead.
I highly recommend staying in two locations for trips longer than three days. Staying in multiple locations will reduce driving time, particularly between Paradise and Sunrise. Stay in the Paradise or Ashford area for part of your trip and the Sunrise, Crystal Mountain, or Packwood areas for the remainder.
For shorter trips that are two days or less, you can stay in one location for the duration of your trip. If you only plan to visit the Paradise region, stay there or nearby Ashford. If you plan on visiting both Sunrise and Paradise, consider staying in Ohanapecosh or Packwood instead to be more centrally located.
This interactive map can help you search all the available hotels and rental properties near Mount Rainier National Park! Simply scroll and click the map below to see what is available!
Read More: How to Spend One Day in Mount Rainier
Where to Stay When Visiting Mount Rainier National Park
There are only a few options for staying inside Mount Rainier National Park, including lodges and campgrounds.
The park’s only two lodges are located in the Paradise and Longmire areas on the southern side of Rainier. You’ll need to stay outside the park if you want to stay in Sunrise, Ohanapecosh, or Carbon River/Mowich Lake areas and aren’t interested in camping.
Best Hotels and Lodges Inside Mount Rainier National Park
Two lodges are inside the park: Paradise Inn and the National Park Inn. Both require booking far in advance and are on the pricier side (like most national park lodges).
- Paradise Inn was built in 1917 and offers 121 guest rooms, a dining room, a cafe, and a gift shop. Its prime location and walkability in the heart of Paradise have earned it the designation as one of the “Great Lodges of the West”. The Paradise Inn is typically only open from late May to early October.
- National Park Inn is a smaller, more casual lodge in the Longmire Historic District with 25 guest rooms, a casual restaurant, and a general store. The National Park Inn is the only lodging inside the park open year-round.
Reservations for both lodges open over a year in advance and tend to sell out, so booking as early as possible is recommended.
Best Campgrounds in Mount Rainier National Park
There are four campgrounds inside Mount Rainier National Park: two are reservable, and two are first-come, first-served. The National Park Service manages the campgrounds and accepts reservations six months out via Recreation.gov.
No campsites inside Mount Rainier offer electric or water hookups, and a dump station is only available at Cougar Rock Campground.
These are the campgrounds in Mount Rainier National Park:
- Cougar Rock Campground in Paradise is open from late May to September and accepts reservations from July to the end of the season. Amenities include drinking water, flush toilets, picnic tables, and fire grates. Sites can accommodate up to 35-foot RVs or 27-foot trailers.
- Ohanapecosh Campground in Ohanapecosh is open from late May to September and accepts reservations from July to the end of the season. Amenities include drinking water, flush toilets, picnic tables, and fire grates. Sites can accommodate up to 32-foot RVs or 27-foot trailers.
- White River Campground in Sunrise is open from late June to late September and is first-come, first-served. Amenities include drinking water, flush toilets, picnic tables, and fire grates. Sites can accommodate up to 27-foot RVs or 18-foot trailers. Plan to arrive early in the morning on summer weekends to get a campsite. Check out the nearby Silver Springs Campground in the National Forest if you need a backup plan.
- Mowich Lake Campground in the Carbon River / Mowich Lake area is open from early July to early October. It is a primitive, first-come, first-served campground. There are 13 primitive walk-in campsites, and amenities include vault toilets (no drinking water is available here, and fires are prohibited). Sites are tent-only and can’t accommodate RVs or trailers.
In addition to these developed campgrounds, backpackers can choose to spend a night in Mount Rainier’s backcountry if they get a wilderness permit.
Best Places to Stay Near Mount Rainier National Park
While staying inside Mount Rainier National Park saves some driving time, especially if you’re opting to stay in Paradise, there are several benefits to staying outside the park, including:
- There’s more availability, and reservations don’t need to be made as far in advance
- Hotels offer more amenities and are more budget-friendly
- There are more dining options, generally with fewer crowds and more budget-friendly prices
- The entrances to Mount Rainier National Park are open 24 hours a day, giving you unlimited access to the park even if you’re staying outside the park boundaries.
These are the best places to stay outside of Mount Rainier National Park.
Best Places to Stay in Ashford, Washington
Ashford is the closest gateway town to Mount Rainier National Park’s Paradise and Longmire regions. It’s a fairly sizable town with several options for accommodations, dining, and filling up on gas.
From Ashford, you’re only 7 minutes to the Nisqually Entrance on the park’s southwest side. If you plan to spend most of your time in the Paradise section of the park, stay in Ashford!
Drive Time to Popular Attractions:
- Longmire Historic District: 20 minutes
- Paradise Parking Area: 40 minutes
- Ohanapecosh: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Sunrise Parking Area: 2 hours 20 minutes
The best hotels in Ashford, Washington, include:
- Nisqually Lodge provides well-appointed hotel rooms (some of which are pet friendly!), a complimentary continental breakfast, and beautiful forest views only a few minutes from the park entrance.
- Mountain Meadows Inn offers a blend of historic inn charm and private chalet suites with beautifully landscaped grounds, excellent hospitality, and included continental breakfast.
- Paradise Village offers cozy cabins with private bathrooms nestled amongst towering pine trees, making for a peaceful retreat with modern amenities, private decks, and a nearby general store, restaurant, and cafe.
- Alexander’s Lodge is a century-old lodge offering vintage charm, cozy accommodations, and spa services a mile from the Nisqually Entrance.
In addition to hotels, there are also several vacation rentals and private cabins in Ashford, WA:
- Stunning Creek-Front Cabin in Ashford is a cozy one-bedroom, one-bathroom cabin with a full kitchen, washer/dryer, and outdoor fire pit in a forested creekside location.
- Unique Mt. Rainier Cabin in Ashford sleeps two in the updated one-bedroom, one-bathroom cabin with an outdoor hot tub, full kitchen, and modern amenities.
- River’s Edge Cabin in Ashford sleeps four in the one-bedroom + loft cabin, with a hot tub with mountain views, a fire pit, and an outdoor BBQ grill.
- Nelson Family Basecamp Log Cabin in Ashford sleeps four in this two-bedroom, one-bathroom hand-built log cabin with amenities like a claw foot tub and a full kitchen on a large, wooded lot.
- The River House in Ashford boasts incredible creek and mountain views from the two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom cabin for six people with a cozy wood-burning fireplace, a private hot tub, and an outdoor BBQ grill.
Best Places to Stay in Packwood, Washington
Packwood is the closest town to the Ohanapecosh area of Mount Rainier National Park. It provides an excellent midpoint place to stay if you visit Paradise and Sunrise.
From Packwood, you’re only 17 minutes to the Stevens Canyon Entrance on the park’s southeast side. If you want to visit Paradise and Sunrise without moving accommodation halfway through your trip, staying in Packwood is the perfect option!
Drive Time to Popular Attractions:
- Ohanapecosh: 15 minutes
- Paradise Parking Area: 1 hour
- Sunrise Parking Area: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Longmire Historic District: 1 hour 15 minutes
The best hotels in Packwood, Washington, include:
- Cowlitz River Lodge is a serene lodge overlooking the Cowlitz River with spacious hotel rooms, modern amenities, and quick access to Mount Rainier National Park.
- Packwood Lodge and Cabins has spacious hotel rooms and private cabins, including modern amenities in a peaceful, forested setting.
- Hotel Packwood offers homey accommodations in the heart of Packwood, close to local shops and dining options.
- Crest Trail Lodge offers a welcoming stay with generously sized rooms, inviting community spaces, and plenty of restaurants nearby.
The best log cabins and vacation rentals near Packwood include:
- Alpine Chalet near Packwood sleeps 6 in the three-bedroom, two-bathroom pet-friendly cabin with a full kitchen, washer/dryer, and hot tub.
- Charming, Cozy Cabin in Packwood sleeps 5 in the one-bedroom + loft cabin near the Cowlitz River, offering moderate amenities, a wood-burning fireplace, an outdoor fire pit, and a hot tub.
- Cozy Packwood Ski Cabin near White Pass is a one-bedroom, one-bathroom cabin for four guests, complete with a fire pit, a BBQ grill, and high-speed internet.
- Bear Lodge Cabin in Packwood sleeps 14 guests in the four-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom log cabin, offering amenities like a fire pit, hot tub, and Wi-Fi on the 3-acre secluded property.
- The Cabin at Packwood sleeps four guests in the two-bathroom, one-bathroom cabin offering a fire pit, charcoal and gas grill, and fenced backyard.
Best Places to Stay in Crystal Mountain, Washington
The area near Sunrise in Mount Rainier National Park is much more remote than the park’s southern side. If you want to stay in a hotel or cabin near Sunrise, your best option is the Crystal Mountain, WA area along Highway 410.
From this area, you’re about 10 minutes to the White River Entrance on the park’s north side. However, lodging options here are minimal, so you’ll need to book further in advance to secure a spot.
Drive Time to Popular Attractions:
- Ohanapecosh: 35 minutes
- Sunrise Parking Area: 45 minutes
- Paradise Parking Area: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Longmire Historic District: 1 hour 25 minutes
There aren’t many accommodation options in the Crystal Mountain area near Sunrise. The best alternative is the Alta Crystal Resort at Mount Rainier. This ski resort is also open during the summer, offering chalet-style accommodations and a heated pool close to the White River Entrance.
If you’re interested in staying in this area, you’ll have more selection when choosing from vacation rentals nearby:
- Crystal Mountain Home in Enumclaw is a rustic three-bedroom, two-bathroom cabin for six guests with a hot tub and full kitchen near the Crystal Mountain ski area.
- Crystal Mountain Chalet in Greenwater sleeps six guests with three bedrooms and two bathrooms in this pet-friendly cabin with a hot tub, a washer/dryer, and a full kitchen.
- Charming Riverfront Cabin in Greenwater sleeps six guests in the one-bedroom + loft cabin with one bathroom, gas log fireplaces, and a peaceful patio.
- Crystal Mountain Base Camp in Enumclaw is a pet-friendly three-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom A-Frame cabin that sleeps six guests near the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort.
- Beautiful Home Near Crystal Mountain in Enumclaw sleeps eight guests in the three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom cabin, offering a hot tub, washer/dryer, fireplace, full kitchen, and outdoor grill.
Frequently Asked Questions About Where to Stay in Mount Rainier
What is the best city to stay in for Mount Rainier?
The best city to stay in for Mount Rainier National Park is either Ashford or Packwood. If you’ll only be visiting Paradise, Ashford is your best option. But if you visit both Paradise and Sunrise, you’ll save driving time by staying in Packwood instead.
Can you stay overnight at Mt Rainier National Park?
Mount Rainier National Park has two lodges and four campgrounds inside the park. If you want to stay in a hotel inside the park, your options are the Paradise Inn in the heart of the Paradise region (open in the summer only) or the National Park Inn in Longmire (open year-round).
Where should I stay when visiting Mt. Rainier and Olympic National Park?
Since Mt Rainier and Olympic National Parks are several hours away from each other, I’d recommend staying in Ashford or Packwood while visiting Mount Rainier and Port Angeles or Forks while visiting Olympic. Alternatively, you can base yourself out of Seattle and visit both parks on a day trip.
Read more about where to stay in Olympic National Park here.
Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Stay in Mount Rainier National Park
Where to stay when visiting Mount Rainier National Park will depend on your interests, itinerary, and budget. Here’s a quick recap of the top places to stay in and near the park.
- If you want to stay inside the park, choose between the historic Paradise Inn and the National Park Inn.
- If you only want to stay outside the park and visit Paradise only, stay in Ashford. The best hotel options are the Mountain Meadows Inn or Nisqually Lodge.
- If you want to stay outside the park and visit Paradise and Sunrise, stay in Packwood instead. The best hotel options are the Cowlitz River Lodge or Packwood Lodge and Cabins.
Are you looking for more ideas for your Mount Rainier National Park trip? Check out these posts!
- Day Trip Itinerary: How to Spend One Day in Mount Rainier
- Top-Rated Activities: 25 Best Things to Do in Mount Rainier
- Hikes: 25 Best Hikes in Mount Rainier
- More in Washington: 3 Best National Parks in Washington State
Are you planning a national park trip but don’t know where to start? Get my free 28-page national park ebook where I break down everything you need to know to visit all 63 USA national parks.
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