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Discover Mount Rainier with Discover Nature

Make the most out of your trip with a guided tour

The glorious view from the top while hiking to Myrtle Falls at Paradise. Photo credit: Missy Bouchat

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Did you know Mount Rainier is one of the most dangerous mountains to summit? Did you know it is an active stratovolcano, last erupting in 1894 and according to the locals is due for another eruption any day? If those facts don't intimidate you about the glorious mountain overlooking Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), then I don't know what will. Mt. Rainier is also famously known for its stunning display of wildflowers, plethora of streams and waterfalls, old growth forest, and wildlife including owls, elk, cougars, bears and mountain goats. With over 236,000 acres to explore, we recommend hiring the experts at Discover Nature to make the most of your trip.

Our tour began on a misty December morning at Paradise Village Hotel in Ashford. After indulging in some delicious espresso and homemade tiramisu, we met our tour guide, Diane, from Discover Nature. We were a small group of three military spouses, our ages and skill levels varying, but that didn't dissuade Diane from putting together the perfect tour that was sure to inspire us each individually.

In fact, Discover Nature tours do just that, specializing in small groups and catering each tour to their needs and wishes. Being the most novice hiker in the group, I felt nervous, as Mt. Rainier has always been a daunting trip to embark on while being stationed at JBLM. Diane put me at ease with her calm and kind demeanor as we loaded up into the van and headed to the iconic entrance of Mount Rainier National Park. Being a Tuesday in December, we breezed through the entrance, although she noted the lines during peak season can be brutal.

Not even 20 minutes in to the drive we pulled over. She wanted to show us an easy yet popular trail, Twin Firs Loop Trail. There was a little snow scattered on the ground and a few patches of ice on the trail, but all in all an easy half-mile loop that showcases the incredible old growth trees living in the park. Diane taught us how to identify the different species including Douglas Firs, Western Red Cedars and Western Hemlocks. She also pointed out different species of moss and lichen, and nurse logs.

From there we made our way up to National Park Inn in the Longmire Historic District. The Inn is open year-round, and even offers a Christmas Dinner option. Diane pointed out the many trails along the way while explaining their length and difficulty levels. I was already planning my next trip up with my family. We wound our way up, stopping to take photos at some of the breathtaking waterfalls. As we increased in elevation, more snow was accumulated around us, and I was happy not to be in the driver's seat. We finally made it to Paradise, an area about 5,400 feet south of the peak of Mt. Rainier that's famous for its incredible views. With snow all around us, Diane pulled out traction devices that slipped right onto our boots, as well as hiking poles for the group. We hiked all the way to Myrtle Falls, in the enchanting snowy forest.

Our trip with Discover Nature left me wanting so much more from Mt. Rainier. I was in awe of the beauty and wild life, and felt empowered to curate a trip that I could lead my family on. Having been intimidated in the past, I learned so much about what to expect, what questions to ask, and how to properly prepare. There are so many different trails to explore, ranging from short, family-friendly loops to the epic 93-mile Wonderland Trail. If you're looking for a little guidance in how to best navigate a trip to Mt. Rainier, then visit: and book yourself a customized and unforgettable experience.

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