Team-BHP meet-up in Washington, USA: Drive to Mt. Rainier National Park

This entire route is scenic passing through thick forest, small quaint towns.

BHPian mobike008 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

T-BHP Drive Meet to Mt.Rainier National Park on September 24, 2023

This meet-and-drive trip plan was decided just a couple of days before the actual day. This drive trip was uncertain till Saturday night as the weather plays an important role here on every outdoor trip that we plan.

The first rain of this season was scheduled on Sunday and fortunately, it was in late afternoon so that means it would start raining on our return drive. We were in double mind but, we still decided to go ahead with the trip as everyone showed interest. It’s another thing that rains preponed their arrival and the heavy downpour started from 1:00 pm onwards when we reached the Paradise Visitor Center in Mt.Rainier National Park.

The plan was simple, we met at 9:00 am about 50 miles en route to Mt. Rainier which would be a convenient location as all of us live in different corners of Greater Seattle. At the meet location, we grabbed some coffee before heading out towards the most iconic national park of our state.

Mt Rainier is 13,500 feet tall (Its size is 1/3rd of Mt. Everest, just to give some perspective) and is 365 days snow-capped.

Since I live North of Seattle and Mt. Rainier is located South of Seattle, it’s a bit of a drive for me. Some other BHPians live in the South of Seattle so for them it’s about 30 miles shorter.

This entire day trip for me was a total of 285 miles (475 km) which didn’t sound much compared to the last “Day Trip in Porsche covering the North Cascades National Park Loop in a single day” which was 400+ miles. Here is the link to that photo blog if you haven’t read it:

Getting BHPians together is always a challenge as we all live in a busy world. The final list of BHPians who came for this drive :

  • Mobike008 (BMW X3M0i)- Avinash
  • Crackhead (Toyota Highlander)- Dhruv
  • Amol4184 (Mini Cooper)-Amol
  • Rvracer88 (BMW X3M40i)- Rahul

Rahul joined us at the meeting point only to meet us and then headed back due to another engagement. So the final count for this drive meet was just 3 BHPians. But, as they say, “ 3 Musketeers” are better than “30 Buccaneers”. LOL!

We were supposed to meet at a “Popeyes” location. But, realized after reaching there that it opens only at 10:30 am so we headed to a Starbucks in the next lot grabbed some coffee and headed out at 9:30 am.

It was a beautiful and atypical PNW day- Cloudy and Pleasantly chilly with day temperatures around 10C-12C.

If it was sunny, the fun of this drive might have quadrupled. Anyhoo, we enjoyed the drive towards Mt.Rainier which was roughly about 90 miles from our meeting location. All of us knew the route as we went to Mt.Rainier at least 2-4 times in a year covering all seasons.

This entire route is scenic passing through thick forest, small quaint towns. There is one particular town Elbe, Washington. This is an absolutely gorgeous and quaint town with a few trains converted into restaurants- One train is an American Cuisine, another one is Mexican and there is a train that is a pizza place too. We generally stop here and enjoy a nice lunch and take some pictures as there is a scenic lake behind the trains.

This time we didn’t stop and just drove by.

There are plenty of places that we stopped before we reached the final destination in Ashford, WA- Paradise Visitor Center which is where all the hikes start on Mt.Rainier.

National Park Pass- I made a smart move and bought the National Forest Pass for $85/annum the previous night. Otherwise, it’s $35 for a one-time entry to Mt.Rainier National Forest. At the entry point, I showed my pass via. My Cellphone. The gentleman was not willing to accept as he wanted me to show the physical card and was insisting that I buy a day pass for $30. Well, he took this debate with the wrong person.

I stood my ground and kept debating with him and a big line of cars was queuing up behind me. He gave up and waved me through. Haha!

These folks don’t get the bigger cut when you buy a U.S. National Park pass (this is valid for all parks in the entire US) vs. you buying the day pass or buying the U.S. National Park at their counter. Hence, his insistence that I buy the day pass from him. But, heck I already paid for it so why should I buy it again? If you don’t stand your ground, there are people always trying to fleece you.

Anyways, we continued inside the national park and stopped at viewpoints which were breathtaking. And, even hiked down a 1-mile round trip to a gorgeous waterfall.

At around 1:00 pm, we finally reached Paradise which is the main area. It started drizzling when we reached and was shocked to see that the parking lot was full on a Sunday afternoon. The rain really picked up and now it was almost a heavy downpour. I circled and finally found a spot after 15 mins. We used the restroom and folks grabbed some pizza and drinks.

There are at least 10-12 hikes starting at Paradise with Medium (5 Miles) to hard-core (20 miles). Last year we did a hike of around 8 miles and I could not get up and walk to my car for a whole 1-hour…LOL

The elevation and rugged path is the killer. But, there is something that awaits you after every hike which is more than worth the effort of the hike. Therefore, people in Washington don’t go to malls on weekends, they head to the mountains.

We spent a couple of hours at the visitor centre. Dhruv and Amol, I believe did a short hike as they came prepared for rain whilst I was as always totally unprepared despite knowing it was going to rain late afternoon. But, I was caught by surprise as the rains decided to propane themselves. Haha!

Around 3:30 pm, we decided to head back home as the rain kept pelting away and there was little we could do outside. We decided to take a loop road that is usually closed on weekdays. This route takes us via. Bit of a ghat section which was super foggy.

We stopped en-route briefly at a couple of scenic spots to admire and enjoy the natural beauty before driving back. a different state route which was absolutely amazing. This route had thick green foliage with plenty of curves and an absolutely amazing route to push the car.

I decided to push the Blau Rakete to its extremes and had a lot of fun driving it in the manual (except when taking a couple of videos) and since it was rainy, I was a bit worried as I was aware that I was on almost worn-out tires. But, even then the grip these tires provided in rains was satisfying as there was no slide in any time cornering at unreasonable speeds. I can only imagine how this beast will perform when I get the All-season Michelin tires.

The return drive was a bit of an adrenaline high as I was able to overtake almost 50 cars (safely and as per rules when the diving line says I can overtake) over a stretch of 30-odd miles to finally reach home at 7:00 pm after covering 140 miles (225 km).

That’s how a fun-day trip ended with the BHPians.

Continue reading BHPian mobike008’s Team-BHP meet & drive for more insights and information.

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