Cycling Mt. Rainier to the Sunrise Visitor Center.
Ride 14.2 miles gaining 3,100’ at 4% average grade.
Sunrise Park, on the eastern flank of Mt. Rainier National Park, is a scenic 14-mile, 3,000’ ascent with a distinctive alpine feel. At 6,400 feet in elevation, Sunrise Park is the highest paved road in Washington.
The climb begins at the park’s White River Entrance Station (at 3,470’ elevation, with parking, water, restrooms all available), just one mile west of the Stephen Mather Memorial Parkway (State Route 410), named for the first director of the National Park Service.
The first four miles of the ascent are gentle, as you follow the course of the White River. At four miles, you cross a bridge over the river and pass the snow gate.
For a few weeks in the spring and fall, the snow gate is closed but the road is free of snow, and hikers and cyclists are allowed on the road car-free – but only if service crews are not working on the road or operating snowplows. (See photos of the signage used by the Park Service.) The Sunrise Road typically opens for car traffic immediately prior to the July 4 holiday. (For road status, check with the White River Ranger Station at 360.569.6670.)
If the snow gate is closed on the Sunrise Road, you will
be greeted by one of these two signs. Heed the difference.
After passing the gate, the rate of ascent steepens considerably. At eight miles, you will encounter the first of three long switchbacks, the last of which (at mile 11) is the Sunrise Point Viewpoint (6,100’), providing 360-degree views extending from the Canadian border (Mt. Baker, 10,781’) to Oregon (Mt. Hood, 11,250’)
Sunrise Point. If the clouds lifted, you could see from Canada to Oregon.
After Sunrise Point, you rise above the treeline and the road flattens for the last three miles to Sunrise Park, where there are parking, water, and restrooms. Your efforts are rewarded with up-close views of Little Tahoma Peak (11,138’) and the Winthrop and Emmons Glaciers covering the east side of Mt. Rainier.
Other climbs that are rideable from the White River Entrance Station include Cayuse Pass (4,694’), Chinook Pass (5,432’), and the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort (4,380’)
Sunrise Park. Washington State’s highest paved road and parking lot.
Thank you Steve Jone of Olympia, Washington!!