Glacier National Park to Seattle
Our Train Vacation (Part 3) took us from Glacier National Park to Seattle on Amtrak’s Empire.
Here’s a summary of our itinerary:
Day 5: Amtrak’s Empire Builder:
Arrive in Seattle!
When we arrived in Seattle, we walked a pleasant (but slightly uphill) stroll to our hotel. We checked in and unloaded our wheeled luggage and took a nice downhill stroll to Pike Place Market where we would meet Jake – our walking tour guide and a highlight of our Seattle experience!
Jake (Seattle Free Walking Tours) took us on a very entertaining walking tour of Seattle. From playing catch with the ever-entertaining market fishmongers to hearing Seattle’s Indian and gold-rush history at Pioneer Square to enjoying a cup of Ivar’s chowder and feeding sea gulls fresh fries…we had a blast! Check out Jake’s tours if you ever want to truly experience the great city of Seattle.
We finished our walking tour on the waterfront where we picked up some souvenirs and waited for our 1-hour Harbor Tour boat to depart. The tour gave us a great view of the skyline, Space Needle, sports parks, and more. Mid-way through the tour, the skies opened up and we got to experience one of Seattle’s famous passing rain storms which in no way dampened our spirits (the boat had an indoor cabin :-).
On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped by a grocery store and loaded up on snacks, drinks, and lunch-makings for the next few days’ adventures.
Day 6: Mount Rainier National Park
I was able to find a good deal on a same-day mini-van rental which I picked up early in the morning as our family finished their breakfast. We loaded up and headed on a nice 1+ hour ride to Mount Rainier National Park!
At 14,411 feet tall, Mount Rainier is the tallest of the fifteen great volcanoes that stretch from Mount Garibaldi in British Columbia to Lassen Peak in California. The morning clouds cloaked the great mountain as we toured the visitor center and took small hikes around the waterfalls. Narada Falls Trail was a fun stop during the ‘car climb’ towards Paradise Visitor Center. The clouds persisted at the top and after a nice tour at the visitor center, we took our picnic lunch inside the timber chalet of Paradise Inn (so cool). We sat by the large stone fireplaces and talked for over an hour with a friendly Park Ranger who told us some great stories of hikers’ attempts to reach the summit. Also, many of the Inn’s occupants sitting in the lobby with us were preparing or returning from summit hikes! I’d highly recommend taking a pit stop in Paradise Inn.
As we started the descent, we saw some wildlife (deer & marmot) and stopped to take their pictures. One of the Park Rangers gave us a great short hike recommendation where we might spot some mountain goats clinging to rocky cliffs. The location was off of Westside Road near the Nisqually Entrance. At first, we couldn’t find any mountain goats and some passing hikers pointed out the moving white dots on the cliffs – we zoomed in with our binoculars and camera and low and behold – there they were! Amazing!!
As we marveled at the mountain goats, the clouds lifted and we decided to drive BACK up the mountain to see if we could get a better glimpse of the mountain.
Mount Rainier was a such a pleasant surprise! We were looking for a fun day trip and it ended up being one of the more memorable parks we’ve visited. I love the National Parks!
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