Scenic Byway Route
The Road to Rainier Scenic Byway forms a loop for much, but not all, of its route. The north part of that loop goes through Eatonville; the southern part is Highway 7. Going east toward the national park, these two join at Highway 7 by Alder Lake, just before Elbe. The Scenic Byway ends at the main park entrance. A short, worthwhile side spur at Elbe takes you 5.2 miles south to the historic hamlet of Mineral and returns the same way to Elbe. (Please see Mineral for the best route.)
The Road to Rainier Scenic Byway begins on Highway 7 at the stop-lighted crossroad of Highway 702 (from McKenna). 702 becomes Eatonville Cutoff Road on the opposite side of Highway 7.
This is where the loop portion starts. Take your choice – driving time is the same:
- Drive Highway 7 (take a right if traveling Highway 702) for a winding drive through mountain terrain and past Alder Dam.
- Or take Eatonville Cutoff Road (opposite 702 at Highway 7). This will take you through Eatonville with its full services and many attractions.
Both of these routes offer great views of Mount Rainier. Ideally, take one route on your way to the park and the other on your return.
It is approximately a 45-minute drive on the Road to Rainier Scenic Byway from its start at the west end to the park entrance at the east end. This is the same using either part of the loop (Eatonville or Highway 7). Seattle is a little over 2 hours from the park entrance, depending on traffic.
Other Scenic Byways
Mt. Rainier Visitor Center in Ashford, 30027 State Rd. 706 East, is on the left as you enter town and is in Whittaker’s Mountain Haus. The Visitor Center is operated by the Mt. Rainier Visitor Association which also lists visitor information on its website. The Visitor Center has varying hours and days of operation and is open more frequently in summer. 360-569-0901, 877-617-9951.
Eatonville Visitor Center, 132 Mashel Ave N. Our Scenic Byway enters Eatonville from the west on Highway 161/Washington Ave. Turn right on Carter Street, left on Mashell Ave., and the Visitor Center will be on your right. The Visitor Center has varying hours and days of operation and is open more frequently in summer. Visitor information also is available from the Eatonville Chamber of Commerce. 360-832-4000.
Visit Rainier has detailed information online about activities around the full circumference of Mt. Rainier.
Outside the Park: When there is snow or ice on the Road to Rainier Scenic Byway, roads are plowed or sanded. During mild winters, there is little snow outside the park. In other years, snow is not unusual even in early spring.
Inside the Park: Our Scenic Byway leads to the only year-round entrance to the national park. In the park, especially at higher elevations, there is snow for several months of the year. Paradise always has several feet of snow in winter. Roads in the national park are kept clear unless heavy snowfall temporarily delays road clearing. The park’s website has updated information on road conditions in the park.
You will not need 4WD for travel on the Scenic Byway or in the national park. Within the national park from November 1 to May 1 each year, you will need to carry tire chains in your vehicle, even in 4WD vehicles. Tire chains can be rented in Ashford.
Gas & Services
Gas is available in Eatonville, Elbe, and Ashford. Please note, Ashford is the last place to buy gas before entering the national park which does not sell gas. Gas stations in Eatonville and Ashford sell propane for refillable, portable propane tanks. For car repairs: Eatonville Auto Center, 360-832-2221.