The route: The park has four entrances, but the White River entrance, off State Route 410 and via Puyallup and Enumclaw, offers several worthwhile stopping points.
Fall Flavor: The Puyallup Farmers’ Market (Saturdays, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.; 330 S Meridian; is where handmade wares, plant starts, seasonal produce and international food carts abound. Choose some bounty for a picnic, and then round it out when you reach Enumclaw with a few slices from The Pie Goddess (Enumclaw, 1100 Griffin Ave.; 360.625.8568). Kids will enjoy a detour to Thomasson Family Farm (Enumclaw, 38223 236th Ave. SE; 360.802.0503; $3–$12), which offers a variety of seasonal farm activities, from corn mazes to cow milking.
Photograph by Thomasson Family Farm. Family fun can be had at Thomasson Family Farm.
Peak Interest: As you continue your journey on SR 410, turn onto Crystal Mountain Boulevard to reach the Crystal Mountain Resort (open daily through September 17) and its spectacular gondola ride ($12–$33), a 2,000-foot ascension above the evergreens to Summit House, (360.663.3085), Washington’s highest-elevation restaurant. From here, Mount Rainier looks close enough to touch.
High Point: Wind your way back to SR 410, through the nearby White River park entrance and continue to Sunrise. It’s the highest vehicle-accessible point in the park, and features a visitor center (open until mid-September) and day lodge (open until late September).
A variety of trailheads offer hiking options and be sure to enjoy a picnic and some photo ops before trekking home.
Photo by: Jason Anglin. A meal with a view at the Summit House.
Chill & Chug
Take the Train
See Mount Rainier from a different perspective via a steam train that leaves from the Mt. Rainier Railroad & Logging Museum (Elbe, 54124 Mountain Hwy. E; 888.783.2611; $21–$54) on weekends and travels across the Upper Nisqually River to the small community of Mineral and back. For an adults-only excursion, hit up Rails to Ales (21 and older; 9/30–10/1; $54–$69), a craft-brew tasting with live music, catering, refreshments and some of Washington’s best beer.