Mount Rainier National Park

Snowshoe to Paradise (Literally) in Mount Rainier National Park

Find otherworldly snow formations just a few hours outside Seattle.

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No, it’s not a fantasy: this snowy scene can be found only a few hours outside Seattle, in the aptly named Paradise area of Mt. Rainier National Park. This particular snow pattern, called runnels, forms after rain events, so a Pacific Northwest park like Rainier is the best place to find it. The longest of the Paradise trails is the Skyline Trail, a 5.5-mile loop with views of the Tatoosh Range, Goat Rocks, and the summits of Mt. Adams and St. Helens, as well as Rainier itself. Start from the Paradise Visitor Center, following the packed trail up a hill towards Rainier (if a storm has just come through, navigate with the Paradise Green Trails Map, available at REI). Go left, crossing Edith Creek, then head over the ridge before turning towards the mountain once more. Looking for more ice? Take the short trail to the Nisqually Glacier overlook from the lower Paradise trailhead.