Rainier National Park: Ohanapecosh Visitor Center and Nisqually Entrance

9/7/12 Friday at Chehalis,WA (Chehalis Campground-TT)

Even though we traveled yesterday, we decided to explore Rainier today because it’s not the weekend and not likely to have rain. We slept in somewhat, but still managed to leave the campground by 8:20 am. It was about 10:15 am when we arrived at Ohanapecosh Visitor Center.

This is the entrance sign for Rainier at that area (this is a Fee area: Senor/Annual Pass):

We followed a lovely Hot Springs Nature Trail (only .4 of a mile loop), with interpretive signs for the plant growth.

Maidenhair Fern (This is so lovely, how it makes a delicate circle as it spins off ferns)

Deer Fern (cool with those tall “antlers”)

Oak Fern (John was NOT so interested in different ferns, but I am so you get these photos anyway)

Bunchberry Dogwood (cute)

White Pine Moth (not a sign) We saw LOTS of these guys. This one was exceptionally patient as I set my camera up for macro (close up).

The Hot Springs (very shallow, wide stream). John confirmed, it was warm. The blue is water and the green is fungi coloring the water.

Colorful fungi, further down the stream

A turn and several yards further away, we see a meadow of long grasses, fed, I think, by that stream. This is also where some buildings were standing in the past for a “curative” bath in the Hot Springs. There must have been a lot more water then!

You must realize that our RV cabinets are made of Alder. I’d not heard of this tree before – so now it holds a special place for me. Thus I am treating you to photos of a Red Alder:



Next, we hiked the Silver Falls trail.

This was fungi growing in a dead stump. We learned that if lichens and/or fungi are growing in a live tree, then that’s a sign that it’s sick.

A little stream we came across. Love those mossy rocks.

John considers water flowing over rocks as cascades, so here is a series of cascades we saw as we approached Silver Falls. This first is of a pool, before the cascades:

Cascade #1

Cascade #2

Cascade #3

Silver Falls

That was over a mile of hiking and actually hot, so we enjoyed our picnic lunch at the end of it.

Next, we tackled the easy “Grove of the Patriarchs” trail. It let to an island that often is flooded, yet still holds massive ancient Douglas Firs.

Ohanapecosh River, from a suspended bridge. You can’t tell from this picture, but it’s really clear water.

John crossing the River on that bridge – to reach the “Patriarchs” trail.  Only one person at a time – it really moves with your steps.

Trish next to two 1000 year old Douglas Firs

After this trek we continued up Stevens Canyon Rd to Box Canyon. Here is a scene of Mt Rainier on our way there.

Mt Rainier

At Box Canyon, we stood on a beautifully constructed bridge to see the really deep gorge the water was coursing through.

The canyon where the depth to the water is 180 feet.

We also saw rock, scratched/polished by glacial ice

Then nature starts growing on it – first with lichens

Later with dirt, caught and dropped, so plants, then trees grow on that rock

Mt Rainier was in the background of the prior picture and close up in this one

Because Stevens Canyon Rd was closed from this point on, we then drove back to the Visitor Center and continued to Packwood, where we drove on Skate Creek Road. Beautiful scenery, but a really winding road with some pretty major dips, followed by Hwy 706. We finally arrived at the Nisqually Entrance at 4:15 pm. We visited the Longmire Museum first. Lovely, small and old. This building was the original Park Administrative building, later moved, to become a museum. This is also where they will stamp your Passport book. Unfortunately, we didn’t think this was it and didn’t ask. When we did find out, it was past 5 pm and it was closed.

Longmire Museum

Longmire Transportation Building, where we learned that the first National Park used to try out letting cars into the parks was THIS one! Note the antique gas pumps out front.

Gas pumps. John explained that they literally had to pump (right side) the gas until it would fill the top clear container. Once they filled it, they could let it go by gravity (hose and end on left) into their car. They would see how many gallons they took by the numbers in the clear chamber.

National Park Inn (lodging and dining)

Image of Mt Rainier from the back porch of the National Park Inn

Now we needed to head home, via Hwy 706, then Hwy 7, until we reached Morton. We’d decided that after such a big day, we deserved a treat and ate at Plaza Jalisco (Mexican). They really are good!

Once again, these 2 tired puppies, arrived at the campground by 7:30 pm, then went to the lodge to post this blog.

We plan to be pretty darn lazy the next few days. Just warning you!


About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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