Jutting out from the eastern flanks of Mount Rainier and perched nearly 3,000 feet above the White River, Sunrise Point is a must-see destination for visitors to the national park.
Aptly named, Sunrise Point's eastern location is best visited early in the morning when a newly rising sun illuminates the giant stratovolcano and the countless peaks that protect the mountain's base. Views south reveal 12,281-foot Mount Adams (Washington's second highest peak) and 8,184-foot Goat Rocks, an extinct and heavily eroded stratovolcano. Sunrise Point is also the departure point for the 3.4-mile trail leading to Palisades Lakes (which passes Sunrise, Clover and Hidden Lake).
Drive, bike, or hike west along Sourdough Ridge an additional 2.6 miles to make your way to Sunrise Park. Siting at 6,400 feet, the highest point in the park accessible by vehicle, Sunrise is one Mount Rainier National Park's most frequented locations after Paradise and Longmire. Here you'll find Sunrise Visitor Center, Sunrise Day Use Lodge (with a cafeteria, a limited general store, and a gift shop), restrooms, potable water, and the trailhead to all of Sunrise's hiking adventures, including:
Opened in 1931, Sunrise originally provided accommodations to guests with 215 cabins that covered the meadow north of the lodge. However, because of the heavy snowfall of harsh winters, the the cabins that were more challenging to access were removed only 12 years later. Sunrise was also the site of a large campground, which also was eventually removed.
Today, no accommodations can be found at Sunrise, and only the small walk-in campground of Sunrise Camp remains. This can be accessed via a 1.3-mile trail from the Sunrise Visitor Center. White River Campground, however, is located 2,200 feet below Sunrise and offers 108 tent/car campsites.
Note: Because of its 6,400-foot elevation and extensive snowpack, the road leading up to Sunrise can be closed as late as early July and closes again in October.