Sunrise on Mount Rainier

My family thought I was crazy because on Saturday morning, while most sane people slept in, I decided to set my alarm for 3 AM. I’m a night owl, so 3 AM is more likely to be my bedtime than my wake up call! When my alarm went off, I had the moment of “what the hell am I doing this for” but I pushed through it. I showered, geared up and hit the road.

My destination was the Sunrise Visitor Center at the end of Sunrise Park Road. At 6400 feet of elevation, it’s the highest point that you can drive to at Mount Rainier. Fun fact – Mount Rainier has had several Native names including Talol, Tacoma, and Tahoma and we may officially change it back soon. With its 14,411 feel of total elevation and larger than life presence, Seattle feels very much in the shadow of Mount Rainier. I never get sick of seeing the mountain and I’ve always wanted to see a sunrise on the mountain. Hence the need to get up at 3 am to make the 2 1/2 hour drive to the top to beat the sun.

This was me “sneaking” out of the house ~ 3:30 AM, hoping my exhaust wouldn’t wake up the whole neighborhood!

I drove right by plenty of gas stations in Enumclaw but started to panic as I approached the huge national park with only half a tank. Luckily I found the Greenwater General Store (the last stop for gas as it turns out) and while it looked abandoned at 5 AM, the pumps were on and I was so thankful to be able to fill up the tank!

The drive up in the dark was a bit sketchy. I would catch the eyes of elk and deer by the side of the road and had to swerve around a few unlucky roadkill, but I made it without incident…maybe a few new gray hairs.

What greeted me, was the most spectacular view of the mountain that I have ever seen in my 22+ years here. I was mostly alone, the sun hadn’t risen yet, but given the height of the mountain, it was already enjoying plenty of light. I spent the next few hours looking at the views and taking photos of the mountain and my car because…well, that’s what I do now.

My favorites (click any image for full-sized slideshow):

Honorable mentions:

Outside of catching a flight to someplace amazing or to see far away family, it is hard impossible to get me to wake up at 3 AM. Gabe said I had lost my mind and likely had dementia or something 🙂 It was so worth it and next time I’m dragging Meg out of bed with me. We will skip the cars and cameras and just enjoy the sunrise and a picnic breakfast on top of the world.

I have to close with my favorite photo again.

8 thoughts on “Sunrise on Mount Rainier

  1. Great photos! I’ve driven that road to Sunrise quite a few times over the years. Last time in my 986 Boxster, middle of the day and mid week, totally empty road the whole way – fantastic. Another memorable time, heading down the road in the dark after a hike, stopped for heard of elk crossing the road. Pretty incredible how close and accessible Mount Rainier is from Seattle.

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