Porcupine Mountains, MI 2019

Monday, July 30, 2018

Mt. Rainier National park, day One ~ Cougar Rock Campground & Grove of the Patriarchs

When making our reservations in January, I was only able to get three nights at Cougar Rock Campground in Mt. Rainier National Park. 

Cougar Rock is all dry camping (no hookups), and has a size limit on motorhomes of 35'. Our Alfa is listed as a 35', but in reality it is a bit longer. Lengthwise, we just fit in the site, considering there were large rocks that can't be seen in the above picture, behind and to the passenger side. We only have slides on one side. If we had them on both sides, like some rigs do, we might have had more of a problem. Although the site was a drive-through, it took a bit of maneuvering to find a good position. The curve on the site, the curve in the loop road, and the curve in the road by the dump station were all very tight. Sometimes people with larger rigs will understate their rig size to get a spot in a park with limits. Most of the time this can work out all right, but I would not recommend doing that here. 

Like most National Parks, Mt. Rainier is very large and has only one main two-lane road with many turnouts for trailheads and viewpoints. 

There are a lot of blind curves, and many places have steep drop-offs with no shoulder to speak of.

Image from Web
On our first full day (Thursday) traffic was relatively light, but there was an annual bike race taking place, going in the same direction that we were. There were hundreds of riders spaced out and some in tight groups. Falling in line and not passing was not an option. Some riders were going very slow (uphill) and others wanted to go faster than we did (downhill). Craig was driving, and there were many times I would gasp or squeak (OK, almost scream) when he passed by accelerating into the oncoming lane, while approaching a blind curve. Just driving was hard, so we did not stop at any of the view points.  It was a nerve wracking 25 miles to our first destination for the day, the Grove of the Patriarchs. 

It's really hard to resist trying to take a picture that shows just how tall these trees are!  The one below wasn't even one of the very old ones.

There were a lot of people there, but it didn't feel crowded, once you got a parking space after waiting for someone to leave. There were several picnic tables that were in constant use, but the wait was short and the tables were in the shade, so we had a relaxing picnic lunch before driving on. Fortunately we were now going in the opposite direction from the racers and no longer had to pass them. But we did have one scary moment when another car was coming toward us in our lane around a curve, while they were passing some riders.

Choosing which pictures of the mountain to display is a challenge. We took so many!

Our second stop of the day, other than at viewpoints along the road, was the Paradise Visitors Center.

I was feeling a bit tired so we didn't go on any of the walks from there. Several looked nice. We did watch the park movie, which was one of the best we have seen in our travels, and brought our laptops in to check email and news of the day. 

Walking back to the Jeep, we noticed the Lodge, and went in to see it. Many National Park lodges were built by the CCC in the 1930s, and although some have been renovated, they still have the rustic charm we enjoy.

We inquired about dinner reservations and found we did not need any. We did have an hour wait before it opened, and spent the time relaxing and people-watching in the massive lobby while listening to a gentleman playing the piano. One could easily imagine the  bygone days when only the rich could take the time to visit such a place. Now it is only the rich who can afford the rooms!

I had the Salmon with wild blackberry sauce for dinner. Craig had the Ratatouille, which was good-tasting but not very pretty.

After dinner we drove out of the park to fill the Jeep gas tank so that we could comfortably drive over 100 miles in the park, the next day.

Finally, the two pictures below were taken at the same view turn out, from different perspectives at different times of day.

This image of "Reflection Lake"was shot in the afternoon, from the higher angle of the road level. It could be called "No Reflection Lake".

This one was shot earlier in the morning the next day from a spot that was lower, at lake level. The water was also much calmer. 

Our second day was calmer in other ways as well, and we had many wonderful views. I'll write more in the next post.


  1. Dinner sounds lovely. Your photos are fantastic as always.

  2. I don't understand why they would allow a bike event in the park. That's a disaster just waiting to happen. Love the reflection picture.

  3. That ride is called RAMROD - which is Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day. The park service limits participation and forbids the postings of elapsed times. People used to ride crazy stupid fast down hill and occasionally die. It's 156 miles, and 10,500 feet of climbing. Jim and I did it in 2000, it's the hardest ride I've ever done. It's beautiful up there, we haven't been in several years.

  4. Beautiful place and a great header pictures. Enjoy:))

  5. Such a pretty area - I like the mountain reflection in your last shot.


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