Tips to Plan a Trip to Mount Rainier National Park​

Ohanapecosh River standing on the precipice of Silver Falls in Mount Rainier National Park.

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Ohanapecosh River

5. Ohanapecosh and Stevens Canyon (southeast): This region boasts lighter crowds, waterfalls, box canyons and towering old-growth trees. Its entrance also closes as the weather intensifies, but it’s typically open from late May to early November.

Where to Stay and Eat

Paradise. From May to early October, check into the Paradise Inn, which sits in the park, high on the mountain’s southwestern flank, about 19 miles from the Nisqually entrance. Its 121 rustic rooms are tucked under a steep, shingled roof designed to shed snow (which can linger until June or July). In the evenings, rangers often give talks in the grand lobby, an inviting space with twin fireplaces, cedar-slab tables and a rustic carved piano.

Longmire. The historic Longmire District is home to the park’s other lodging option, the cozy 1926 National Park Inn (technically in Ashford, about 6 miles from the Nisqually entrance). Its 25 tiny and basic rooms don’t have Wi-Fi or TVs, but the property stays open year-round. Insider tip: Don’t miss the spectacular views from its veranda rocking chairs and afternoon tea beside the lounge’s oversized stone fireplace.

Both properties have ADA-accessible rooms.

Ashford. You can get more bang for your buck just outside the park. The mountain town of Ashford sits 6 miles west of the Nisqually entrance, the only one open year-round to cars. This area has the largest and most sophisticated selection of accommodations and restaurants close to Rainier. You can book a tree house or cabin in Ashford at the Wellspring Spa & Woodland Retreat, a bohemian sanctuary in a fern-cloaked forest (think “Hobbiton meets Rivendell,” with a labyrinth, driftwood arches and outdoor cedar hot tubs). Nearby, the 1912 Alexander’s Lodge at Mt. Rainier has 23 quaint rooms (the upper floors are accessible by stairs only). For extra charm, stay in one of the turret rooms, overlooking the waterwheel.

Also in Ashford, the Paradise Village Ukrainian restaurant serves such dishes as white-cabbage borsch, galushki (gnocchi) and sour-cherry pierogies, alongside crepes and baked goods. This spot’s also home to the Instagram-famous “Cannibal Hot Tub” — a giant kettle over a wood fire — which is open by reservation, even to visitors staying elsewhere. Load up on rib-sticking, climber-carb-loading fare nearby at the Copper Creek Inn, the mountain’s top-ranked eatery. Find out for yourself why its blackberry pie wins raves. Or wait till just before the park boundary and indulge in pork momos (dumplings) at the Wildberry Restaurant.

Mineral. Fifteen miles west of Ashford, in Mineral, Elkamp puts a modern stylish twist on tent and RV sites. It offers amenities more typical of a boutique property, such as escorting all new guests to their sites, and delivering ice and firewood. It will expand in 2022 to include cabins, yurts, a tree house and a luxuriously appointed Airstream. Savvy visitors gravitate to the old barn, where the effusive owners sell art, vintage camping items, gourmet treats such as cinnamon-bourbon-pecan popcorn, and local Hellbent and Half Lion craft beers.

Eatonville. To Rainier’s west, sip a draft at Eatonville’s Mill Haus Cider Company, a new venue with an outdoor music stage and covered patios with firepits. You can also take in a flick at the 1942 Roxy Theater.

Wilkeson. If you’re driving to the park from Tacoma, stop by the former coal town of Wilkeson, en route to the park’s car-free Carbon River entrance 14 miles to the southeast. It offers handsome 19th-century architecture, and some of the state’s best wood-fired pizza at the Carlson Block. Savvy travelers line up an hour before opening (once the restaurant uses up its 120 balls of dough, it’s done for the day).

Note: Many Mount Rainier-area restaurants close for the winter and stay open only until 8 p.m. in the peak summer season.

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Park Plaza upgrades meetings programme

Park Plaza is upgrading its meetings and events programme as demand recovers following the Covid-19 crisis.

The hotel chain, which has properties in the UK, Netherlands, Germany and Croatia, has launched Reassuringly Good Meetings & Events featuring “all in one” packages for events of up to 30 delegates as well as flexible booking terms.

Organisers of small meetings can take advantage of Park Plaza’s contract-free and pay-on-the-day arrangements. Planners of larger meetings can also reduce their minimum numbers up to seven days before the event.

Manuel Martinez Infante, director of groups, meetings and events at Park Plaza, said: “After such an unprecedented period for the industry, it has been great to welcome so many delegates back through our doors and work closely with them to deliver exceptional events. 

“Underpinned by our flexible, safe, and secure protocol that was established at the onset of the pandemic, this update gives them even more assurance that Park Plazas are the hotel venues of choice – from creating bespoke and unique solutions, down to the transport links to our properties.”

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Take a Quick Tour of Hyde Park, One of Eight Royal Parks In London, England (30-Second Video) | International | Video

Hyde Park is one of eight Royal Parks in London, England. After visiting Hyde Park in 2017, I know you can spend a dreamy day there and not see all of its 350 acres, but you’ll have a jolly good time trying!

Photo: Map of Hyde Park.

Established in 1536 and set in the heart of London, Hyde Park is a must-see when visiting England. Once the site of several duels, the park is now home to various events, demonstrations and concerts, and it seems like there’s always something going on. Yet there are also many quiet, tucked away spots where you can relax, picnic or just take a breather.

Photo: Strolling along the Serpentine.

Don’t miss the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, which will bring out all the feels. You also can take a swim in the Serpentine, or just gaze at the lake from a nearby café.

Photo: Statue of Achilles, monument to the Duke of Wellington. Sculpted by Richard Westmacott and unveiled in 1822, it is made from a melted enemy cannon and on public display in Hyde Park, London.

Among the park’s many activities are tennis and horseback riding, and there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy. But you may prefer to just take a leisurely stroll or bike ride through nature and history!

Photo: Queen Elizabeth Gate by Hyde Park entrance.

Photo: Beautiful aerial view from above Hyde Park, London.

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‘Emily in Paris’ Star Ashely Park Shares the Moment She Felt Like a Local in the City of Light

‘Emily in Paris’ Star Ashely Park Shares the Moment She Felt Like a Local in the City of Light | Travel + Leisure

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Cosmic Rewind at Disney World is my new favorite theme park attraction

Why Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Disney World is my new favorite theme park attraction

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Make Reservations Now For Unique National Park Cave Tours In Utah

Cave tours are set to begin later this month at one of Utah’s most popular and unique attractions.

Timpanogos Cave National Monument is opening for tours starting May 18. Reservations are a requirement and can be made up to 30 days in advance.

This is a special year for the monument, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

“We are excited to celebrate the centennial of Timpanogos Cave National Monument,” Cami McKinney, acting superintendent, said in a release. “Over the last 100 years, there is a tradition of many families coming to see the cave, communities that have supported the success of the park, and decades of bringing people together.”

A series of events are taking place in honor of the centennial, all leading to a birthday party on October 14. Events include:

  • Daily lantern cave tours
  • New exhibits in the visitor center
  • Star parties
  • A 100-day hike challenge
  • Free Saturday programs for children and families
  • Art in the Park events

“We have a lot of different activities planned,” Sheila Hunt, supervisor at Timpanogos Visitor Center, told the Daily Universe. “I think one of my favorites is called Art in the Park.”

Art in the Park will feature artists throughout the day stationed in the cave, along the trail, or at the visitor center.

100 Years Of History

Created in 1922 by proclamation from President Warren G. Harding, Timpanogos Cave National Monument is a treasure unknown to many people.

Located in American Fork Canyon on the Wasatch Range, it features an extensive cave system made up of three linked caverns: Timpanogos Cave, Hansen Cave, and Middle Cave.

Each contains a wide range of formations, including helictites, stalactites, stalagmites, calcite crusts, draperies, and frostwork.

Visiting usually takes place from sometime in May to sometime in October because of the severe weather that can occur in other months.

In order to reach the caves, visitors must first hike about 1.5 miles on a paved trail that rises more than 1,000 feet. The entrance to the caves is at an elevation of just under 7,000 feet. The weather can be hot, so visitors should be well hydrated and conditioned to walk in air that is thinner than most are used to.

Because of the severity of the trail, no strollers or wheelchairs are allowed, and no pets, food, or drinks are allowed inside the caves.

The caves include dark passages and well-lit chambers filled with pylons, pillars, and other formations that are spectacular to view.

“We honor everyone that has worked here and hiked to the caves, and we invite you back to celebrate with us all year long,” McKinney said.

Tickets, tour schedules, and lists of programs can be found on the park’s website. Tickets are $12, or $7 for those ages 2 to 11.

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UPDATE: Authorities working to ID victim killed in College Park wreck on I-285 – The Atlanta Journal Constitution

UPDATE: Authorities working to ID victim killed in College Park wreck on I-285   The Atlanta Journal Constitution

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Florida theme parks: Theme park tester shares top tips and advice to avoid queues | Travel News | Travel

The theme park tester added: “As part of planning ahead, book reservations at the restaurants you’re keen to try.

“Theme parks can get crowded and busy, meaning it can be really difficult to secure a table at the best restaurants.

“If you’re eating on the go, make the most of mobile ordering if possible to save time for enjoying the attractions!”

Theme parks might not be known for their dining options, but tourists might be surprised by the range of restaurants on offer.

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National Park Week 2022: Free entry to all NPS sites on Saturday

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(CNN) — Yellowstone? Free. Yosemite? Free. Everglades? Free!

Actually, most NPS sites are free all year. Only 108 charge a fee. And as you’d suspect, it’s the big names that ask you to pay to enter: Places such as Arches in Utah, Crater Lake in Oregon and Shenandoah in Virginia.

But they’re all free this Saturday.

5 free days in 2022

Find your calming center Northern California's Redwood National Park.

Find your calming center Northern California’s Redwood National Park.

Samson1976/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Just in case you missed the free day back in January and can’t make it to an NPS site on Saturday, there are still three remaining dates when entry fees are waived for you planners:

August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
September 24: National Public Lands Day
November 11: Veterans Day

One catch: “The entrance fee waiver for fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours,” the NPS says.

If you’re not much of a planner, it might be a good idea to pick up the habit — particularly if you want to see a popular site on a free day.

Extra fees, advanced reservations, special passes, lotteries and caps on the number of visitors are all in play in 2022.

If you have a particular site you wish to visit, check its website first.

The rest of National Park Week

Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts usually has an entry free, but it won't charge one on April 18.

Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts usually has an entry free, but it won’t charge one on April 18.

Ronald Wilson Photography/Moment RF/Getty Images

While the free-for-all is just one day, the NPS has a whole week of social media themes planned out, one for each day.

For instance, Sunday is “Creativity Day,” and Wednesday is “Opportunities on Workforce” when you can learn about jobs with the NPS and its partners.

National Park strategies

With competition to enter the Yellowstones and Yosemites of the system so fierce, you might want to come up with a strategy, whether it’s a free day or not.

First is plan early as possible. Many places book up faster than ever.

Also, consider visiting lower-profile or harder-to-reach parks. The NPS is encouraging people to see their other offerings that might be less crowded. Some ideas:

Congaree National Park (South Carolina): This is the “largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the [Southeast].” You won’t find another national park quite like it.
Great Basin National Park (Nevada): This features 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, sage-covered foothills and the darkest of dark-night skies.

With gasoline prices so high, it makes sense to visit park clusters.

If you want to find the parks closest to you, click here.

Correction: A previous version of this story had the incorrect date for the free day. It’s Saturday, April 16.

Top image: A family enjoys the views at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado (Margaret/Adobe Stock)

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A National Park Pro Shares 6 Tips for NP Travel In 2022

National Park Week is upon us again, ushering in the spring and summer travel season — when most parks hit their peak visitation, best weather, and highest trail accessibility. Saturday, April 16, kicks off the week of celebration wtih a fee-free day at National Park sites that charge admission, which is a great opportunity to begin your park explorations either for the season or for the first time.

I’ve spent the last several years of my life on a quest to visit all major US National Parks solo. As of this writing I’ve visited 56 of the major 63 parks at least once, all completely solo. Not to mention repeat visits and trips to hundreds of other NP sites. So it’s fair to say that at this point I have learned a lot. And, as you can imagine, I have a lot to share with others.

If you’re planning a National Park trip and looking for some practical advice, here is some of mine:

1. Plan Ahead

This seems like an obvious one, I know, but in this travel landscape it is more important than ever. National Park travel specifically has surged in the last few years and is poised to only surpass visitation records this spring and summer. With a sense of normalcy returning to our lives after years of tumult, everyone I have talked to recently is celebrating by planning a National Park road trip of some kind.

While not every park will be at record levels, many will be – and have reservation and timed entry systems in place in preparation. As of this writing, there are reservation or timed entry systems in all or specific parts of Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Arches, Acadia, Glacier, and Zion. You can learn more about the particulars here.

Outside of reservations, there are a lot of other planning pieces that you’ll want to consider. Like, now. Many National Parks are in remote areas with limited lodging and even camping – so you’ll want to book those early too. With rising inflation and a shortage in some service labor, the small tourist towns are bracing for a busy – and expensive – season.

Mitigate this by making as many reservations as far in advance as possible. And don’t forget flights and cars as well – they are also all going up in price rapidly.

2. Look Beyond the Marquee Parks

I’ve heard from a lot of people who are planning the sort of epic and quintessential National Park trips that everyone dreams of this summer. Stops throughout the west to some of the marquee parksYellowstone, Glacier, Grand Teton, and Yosemite. And while these are all amazing parks that I hope everyone gets a chance to see for themselves, you might want to consider some lesser-known gems for part or all of your trip.

With the increased cost and crowds that this summer is bound to bring, a less crowded park can provide some respite. Some of my favorites for the summer months are North Cascades in Washington, Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado, New River Gorge in West Virginia, and Isle Royale in Lake Superior.

Another way to beat the crowds is to visit state parks and National Park sites that aren’t official “National Parks” by designation. You see, the National Park system is actually made up of over 400 sites – National Seashores, Lakeshores, Monuments, Historic Sites, and many more. Of these, of course, the 63 with “National Park” only designation are much more popular – generally – than the others. Some of my favorite NPS sites without the “National Park” only designation are Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia, Assateague Island National Seashore in both Maryland and Virginia and Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina.

3. Get in Early… or Late

My number one piece of advice that I give to National Park summer travelers is to get to the park early. Very early. Earlier than you’d ever think you should. A time when you will find yourself wondering if you even actually slept at all. When you will imagine that you’ll be the only one on the road and at the entry station. Because you’ll soon be surprised to enter the big parks and still have a crowd around you. Less of a crowd, yes, but still more than you’d think.

So to get ahead of the frustrations – get up early and get in early. This is also a workaround for many of the park reservation systems that only start at 5 or 6 am.

Another option is to go later in the day. Generally, the families and early risers are out by then and if you aren’t planning a long hike you can still catch some great views and beautiful skies. Other benefits are cooler temps and another way to get into a park you do not have a reservation for. Glacier, for example, only requires car reservations on Going-To-The-Sun road until 4 pm – and with sunsets after 9 pm from early May to August, that leaves plenty of time to adventure.

4. Add More Time to Your Itinerary Than You Think You’ll Need

Friends and social media followers often run their road trip itineraries by me before leaving on a National Park trip. One thing I always notice – and immediately caution them on – is to add in more time than they think they’ll need. Just because a park is five hours from another park or city doesn’t mean that’s all the time you’ll need. There are often stops you’ll want to make in the in-between and not planning for those roadside vistas can make your trip feel unnecessarily rushed and frustrating.

New visitors to a park may not account for the time it takes to get anywhere once they are already within a park. For example, Yellowstone, depending on which entrance you use, can lead to another hour of driving before you hit any of the sites you might want to see. Parks are very often spread out, and can become very congested in the summer – so you’ll want to plan for more time.

5. Talk to the Park Rangers – and Beyond – When You Arrive

As a naturally fly by the seat of my pants type of traveler, this has been one that I have to be intentional about. I love to enter a new park and just go. Explore and hike and figure it out as I go along. And there is a place and time for that kind of travel, for sure. But a crowded summer trip to a National Park is probably not the one.

Park Rangers are of course a wealth of information. Beyond tips and recommendations, they can let you know about recent wildlife sightings, where parking is filling up, and if any parts of the park are closed or should be avoided.

But then I like to go beyond the rangers for another perspective – employees in the gift shops or restaurants. I ask them where they go when they have a day off. Often their recommendations lead to lesser trafficked hidden gems that you may not find by looking at a list of top hikes or following the crowd.

6. Follow “Leave No Trace” Principles

One last tip applies to all trips and all people – beginners or experts. When you are visiting our precious public lands remember to leave no trace.

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose properly of waste
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of others.

More information can be found here.

Happy exploring!

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