Located in the state of Washington, Mount Rainer National Park is named after the active volcano it protects. Mount Rainer rises to 14,410 feet above sea level and is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States. In 2018, over 10,000 people attempted to climb Mount Rainer, with a little over 5,000 of them actually reaching the summit.
Mount Rainer National Park was established on March 2, 1899, making it America’s fifth oldest national park. (The oldest are Yellowstone, Yosemite, General Grant – now Kings Canyon, and Sequoia). Encompassing 369.34 square miles, the park has more than 275 miles of maintained trails and 120 miles of roads.
Throughout the year, over 2 million people will visit Mount Rainer. Due to weather conditions, summer is the busiest time of year, with many roads closing for the season by November. So check local conditions before planning your trip to Mount Rainer. More information about Mount Rainer National Park can be found at the official nps.gov website.
Dog-Friendly Activities at Mount Rainer National Park
Mount Rainer follows the general national park guidelines for pets within the park boundaries. Dogs are allowed in parking lots, campgrounds, and within 25 feet of paved roads. Dogs must be on a leash less than 6 feet in length and attended at all times. Oh, and of course, dog waste must be disposed of properly.
Dogs are NOT allowed on trails, in wilderness areas, in buildings, in amphitheaters, or on roads closed for the winter. For more information about pets at Mount Rainer National Park, visit their official pets page.
There is one trail exception: the Pacific Crest Trail. If you haven’t heard of the Pacific Crest Trail, this trail runs for 2,653 miles from California to British Columbia. It passes through several of the national parks on the west coast, including North Cascades, Mount Rainer, Crater Lake, Lassen Volcanic, Yosemite, and Kings Canyon. Find out more about thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with dogs at PCTA.org.
To access the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Mount Rainer National Park, head towards Tipso Lake and park along State Route 410 (Mather Memorial Parkway) where the PCT intersects the road. There are a few parking lots in this area as well.
In this segment, the PCT traverses the northeast side of Naches Peak. This offers hikers views of high mountain ponds, subalpine forest, and peaks to the north. If you are day hiking on the PCT, this will be an out and back hike, as dogs are not allowed on the loop trail that heads back to Tipsoo Lake within Mount Rainer National Park.
We personally did not hike this section of the PCT, as we were unable to drive from the west side of the park to the east due to a low tunnel with a height restriction of 12’6”. Our RV was close to 13’. But if you approach from the east side of the park or are driving a car, this is a great opportunity to get on the trails with your pup.
As a result, we settled for driving up to Paradise and contenting ourselves with the stunning views obtained from the visitors center and parking lot area of this region of the national park. Luckily the dogs had a wonderful walk outside of the national park on the morning of our visit, but you can see from their faces that they were getting a little bored with all the driving.
We also stopped at Christine Falls to enjoy this beautiful waterfall located just off the main road between Paradise and our campground (Cougar Rock).
Camping at Mount Rainer National Park
There are four campgrounds in Mount Rainer National Park: Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh, White River, and Mowich Lake.
Mowich Lake is a primitive walk-in campground with 13 pads and no individual site fees. It is a first come, first served campground.
The other 3 campgrounds have room for RVs and travel trailers. Both Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh accept reservations.
During our stay, we camped at Cougar Rock and found it to be a nice forested campground with plenty of roads for walking the dogs around.
Please note if you are visiting in an RV, there are height restrictions on some of the park’s roads. So make sure you choose a campground that you can easily access.
Dog-Friendly Activities in the Surrounding Areas
There is plenty to do with your dogs in the area around Mount Rainer National Park. We approached Mount Rainer from the west after visiting Olympic National Park. As a result, we drove past Pack Forest on our way to Mount Rainer.
Pack Forest is managed by the University of Washington and serves as an educational area for the general public as well as students of the school’s environmental and forest science programs.
Pack Forest is located in the foothills of Mount Rainer, making it a perfect stop on our way to the national park. Its 4,300 acres are dominated by second growth Douglas Fire and Western Red Cedar. And to top it all of, it is home to 120-foot waterfall.
Little Mashel Falls is the tallest of 3 waterfalls along the Little Mashel River. We really enjoyed taking the dogs on this lovely hike with a waterfall destination. The trail is minimally labeled, so we highly recommend downloading a trail guide/instructions (like this one at VisitRainer.com) prior to hitting the trail.
Most of this roughly 6-mile hike is flat and easy. But be aware that the terrain becomes significantly steeper as you near the falls.
Overall, we enjoyed our visit to Mount Rainer National Park. While we would have loved to explore the east side of the park as well, the views at Paradise were wonderful and our hike in the surrounding area was well worth the drive.
While you can explore much more of this national park without your dog, if you are traveling through the area, you can still get a great roadside view of the mighty Mount Rainer. And if you want to hike with your dog, there are many great hiking opportunities just outside this national park.
Other Resources for Planning a Dog-Friendly Trip to Mount Rainer
In the process of researching for our visit to Mount Rainer National Park, we found the following resources. Since they helped us, we thought they might help you also.
- PawTripping.com has a blog post about Dog-Friendly Mount Rainer, complete with marked dog-friendly stops on the park map. This post even includes information about a dog-friendly gondola right at Crystal Mountain Resorts.
- VisitRainer.com (as mentioned above) has several blog posts about dog-friendly activities near Mount Rainer, including this blog post about an off-leash dog park (if your dog has the right temperament for an off-leash park).
- DogJaunt.com has also explored Mount Rainer National Park with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. You can find information about their experience in their blog post about Mount Rainer.
- AdventuresWithDog.com also has a post about visiting Mount Rainer National Park and the surrounding areas with his pup.
If you know of any other great resources for visiting Mount Rainer National Park with dogs, please let us know in the comments section below. We are always happy to add more resources to our list.
And if you are in Washington, don’t forget about Olympic National Park and North Cascades National Park, as they are both well worth the time to visit with your pup.