Set in its own national park, glacier-clad MOUNT RAINIER (14,410ft) is the highest peak in the Cascades (the seventh highest in the USA), and a major Washington landmark. Not until June does the snow melt enough for roads to open, and then the deer and mountain goats appear, dazzling wild flowers illuminate the alpine meadows and the mountain makes for some perfect hiking.
If you only have a day to explore, visit the south and east sides, entering on Hwy-706 at the Nisqually entrance and stopping at Longmire eight miles further on, site of the area’s first resort in the 1880s and a small museum. Nine miles from here is stunning Narada Falls, a 168ft plunge of water right next to the road, before the last two miles of highway rises to the main visitor centre at Paradise. Note that climbing Mount Rainier peak itself is extremely hazardous and should only be undertaken by experienced climbers.