I consulted with my friends, the Bowes, regarding visiting Mt. St. Helens. The volcano looks about 15 miles from their home as the crow flies, but we all know roads don't fly straight. Ted informed me it was about an hour drive to the park, and once there, there is no quick way to get to Mt. Rainier. But I figured I was so close I ought to try it. I put the waypoint I wanted to visit into my Garmin and headed out. Even taking the shortcut route Ted gave me, it was still mid morning by the time I reached Castle Rock, where there is a state run visitor's center. It would be another 50 miles to the National Park, and that meant 50 miles back, as well as backtracking all the way to Mossyrock. I decided to peruse the visitor's center there, forego the journey to the NP, and turn back toward Rainier.
I reached Mt. Rainier National Park entrance about 3:00, and had decided to see if there was any space available within the park campgrounds. Score! There were 3 spaces available in Cougar Rock that would accommodate my Minnie, and I chose the finest one.
I stopped at the Visitor's Center the next morning, as well as several scenic turnouts along the way west. Rainier is a beautiful park; not just the mountain itself, but the winding roads through the lush and pristine forest are spectacular.
That said, the main road through the park was a knuckle biter for me. Narrow, winding, with steep grades, and several places with a drop off to canyons below made me more nervous than I've ever been before driving my motor home. Fortunately, there was surprisingly light traffic and I never met a car coming around a difficult curve. It was worth the harrowing drive, though, and I feel more confident than ever in handling Minnie anywhere she takes me.
I left the park and headed west toward Couer dAlene.