a view of summit lake and mt rainier

13 Epic Places to Photograph Mt. Rainier in Washington

Every Washingtonian knows of Mt. Rainier. She looms large no matter where you are around Seattle and the western side of the cascades. But just because you can see Rainier doesn’t mean they’re awesome places to photograph the tallest volcano in the lower 48.

Inside are 13 of my favorite views and places to photograph Mt Rainier.

Kerry Park

Near downtown Seattle, this is a fan-favorite place to watch the sunset, see the city skyline and Ferris wheel, and get a stunning view of Mt. Rainier. During summer, expect this place to be teaming with people looking for a magical sunset.

Tolmie Peak

a hiker enjoys the view from tolmie peak lookout
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

On the park’s northwest side, Tolmie Peak offers a great view of Rainier with fewer crowds than the Paradise or Sunrise locations. It’s a moderate six-mile hike with views that will astound you. You’ll have epic views of Rainier, the Olympic range, and Mt. Baker to the north when you reach the top.

Crystal Mountain Resort

If it’s a bluebird day on the slopes, skiers and snowboarders can enjoy amazing views of Rainier from the resort’s highest point. Take the gondola up during summer, or hit the trails for a sweet view outside the national park.

Mt. Daniel

mt rainier sunrise washington state pnw

One of the most epic peaks in Washington. From Daniel, you have a straight shot of Rainier rising above the Washington landscape. But don’t think you can just zip up this hike. Mt. Daniel is a strenuous climb of 16 miles round trip and over 5,000 feet of gain.

High Rock Lookout

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

It’s south of Rainier and outside the park boundaries, but you’d hardly know. High Rock Lookout is perched on a cliff edge with hundreds of feet of nothing below it. The trail is steep but short, making it perfect for sunrise or sunset.

Vesper Peak

vesper peak hike
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

This is a challenging but doable trail in the Washington Cascades. After four miles and four thousand feet of gain, you’ll be exhausted at the summit. But you’ll forget your legs’ pain once you see the views, which include three of the five volcanoes.

Dege Peak

Dege Peak is a short hike to stunning sights starting at the Sunrise Visitor Center. Without working too hard, you’ll have 360-degree views of the Cascades, Olympic, and Rainier. It’s a great place to watch the sunset and the stars come out before heading down with a headlamp.

Tipsoo Lake

Mt. Rainier National Park Washington Photography Hiking Tipsoo Lake

On Rainier’s eastern side, Tipsoo Lake offers dramatic photography opportunities, especially at sunset when the early light hits Rainier for the first time. There’s hardly any physical effort needed to shoot here, making it the perfect sunrise spot!

Fremont Lookout

pnw hiking washington fremont lookout

This is the most popular lookout in the park and maybe in the state of Washington. You won’t be alone soaking in the views, but that’s okay! Just make sure to look out north once or twice—you might see Mt. Baker far on the horizon!

Skyline Trail

Wildflowers on the Skyline Loop Trail at Mt Rainier.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

On the south side of the mountain, via Paradise Visitor Center, hike the Skyline Trail to Panorama View. I suggest going counterclockwise as the approach is more gradual, and you’ll get to soak in the wildflowers while catching your breath. Then, once you emerge at the top, you’ll see all of Rainier and her many glaciers rising some eight thousand feet above you.

Church Pull-off

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

I stumbled onto this one while driving to Rainier. It’s literally at a church and has awesome views of Rainier’s western side, which is much less photographed. You can see more details on the side than from other angles, and it’s one of my favorite places to photograph Mt. Rainier.

Silver Peak

Two hikers stand on the top of silver peak looking at mt rainier during sunset
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

In the Snoqualmie Sass area, Silver Peak is a short three-mile hike up via the PCT that offers surreal views of Mt. Rainier to the south and Stuart Peak to the north. Once you reach the ridgeline, expect dazzling wildflowers in August.

Poo Poo Point

a view of mount rainier from the south launch area at poo poo point
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

A shorter but steep climb in the Issaquah Alps, Poo Poo Point is a lovely hike for great views of Mt. Rainier and to see paragliders. The only views are from the south side, so make sure to stop there while you continue your way to the top. PS: The parking lot isn’t huge, so come early/late or be okay waiting for an open spot.

Discovery Park Lighthouse

Another Seattle area spot is the beach at Discovery Park. On a clear day, you’ll see Rainier towering over the shipping cranes near Elliot Bay. Park in the parking lot and hike down the 1.5-mile trail to the beach, where you’ll see the lighthouse and orcas on a good day!

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside