On clear days—"when the mountains are out," as locals say—this steep, ice-gilded volcano dominates Seattle’s horizon. In fact, the peak is 90 miles southeast of the metropolitan area. You can see lush green forests blanketing about 60 percent of Mount Rainier National Park, while the rest is covered in meadows, alpine heather, and the densest patch of glaciers in the contiguous United States. Easygoing hikers like to explore the wildflower meadows near the 1916 Paradise Inn, which transform into prime terrain for sledding, snowshoeing, and igloo-building come winter. Prefer the thrill of downhill? Head to Crystal Mountain, just northeast of Rainier, where the state's first ski gondola still serves its most elevated restaurant.
On clear days—“when the mountains are out,” as locals say—this steep, ice-gilded volcano seems to fill Seattle’s whole horizon. In fact, the peak is 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of the metropolitan area. Forests blanket around 60 percent of Mount Rainier National Park, the rest shared by meadows, alpine heather and the densest patch of glaciers (27 in all) in the contiguous United States. Snap-happy cruisers should be on deck for the outward-bound trip, which can open up iconic shots of the city, the sound and the mountain.