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Should we stay at Mt. Rainier or Castle Rock?

New York City
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Should we stay at Mt. Rainier or Castle Rock?

On the final legal of our 16-day trip, we will be leaving Seattle on a Sunday morning, and our flight leaves from Portland Airport on Monday at 6 pm. En route, we'd like to see the highlights of Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.

At this point I'm confused about how much time to allot for each, and where I should be seeking lodging Sunday night as a result. My first plan was to stay Sunday night at Paradise Inn, so that we can have all day Sunday to enjoy exploring Mt. Rainier and doing some short hikes, then leave Monday morning to visit Mt. St. Helens and get back to PDX in time for our flight. Does this seem reasonable, or is this allotting too much time for Rainier since we're not planning on major hiking, and perhaps we should stay in Castle Rock to get an early start on Mt. St. Helens the following day, which would allow us to get back to Portland earlier on Monday to catch anything that we may have missed earlier in the trip?

If we stay in Mt. Rainier, is Paradise Inn the best option? And if Castle Rock (or someplace else) is better, which hotel would you recommend?

Poulsbo, Washington
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for Olympic National Park
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1. Re: Should we stay at Mt. Rainier or Castle Rock?

You will not have any time to see things you missed in Portland after visiting Mt. St Helens and then flying out that night even if you spend the night at Castle Rock. I presonally would not visit the Volcano the same day I was flying out no matter what time you fly out. Personally I would spend the night at Rainier (have you secured a reservation) and make the most of the Park. There are plenty of great things to experience in the Park. I would get the most out of it!

Seattle, Wa
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2. Re: Should we stay at Mt. Rainier or Castle Rock?

Definitely stay at Paradise if you can get a room, even at the expense of everything else. It's so special to be there in the evening and early morning, before/after the hoards.

Longview, Washington
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for Mount Rainier National Park
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3. Re: Should we stay at Mt. Rainier or Castle Rock?

If your Monday flight from Portland leaves at 6 pm, you will need to be at the airport by 4 p.m. Without any traffic problems, it will take one hour to drive from Castle Rock to the airport. Yesterday there was a wreck on the I-205 bridge between PDX and Vancouver. My daughter, who works in Portland, said it took her 1 hr and 30 min. to drive from PDX to her home in Kalama. It's usually a 40 min drive. Kalama is about 30 minutes south of Castle Rock. There are no options when crossing the Columbia River, it would take nearly an hour to drive from I-205 to the I-5 bridge and back to the airport.

I would plan to get to Portland before noon. It takes a minimum of 3 hours to drive from Castle Rock to Johnston Ridge Observatory on Mt. St. Helens and back to Castle Rock. I guess it would be doable if you stayed in Castle Rock and drove up to Mt. St. Helens first thing Monday morning, but personally, I would not try it.

There is limited accommodations in Castle Rock. Just a couple of small motels near the I-5 exit and the Blue Heron Inn B&B, if it's still operating. Before you opt to stay at Mt. Rainier, check to see if you can get reservations for Paradise Inn or the National Park Inn at Longmire. Sometimes they are booked up in the summer. I'm sure you could find a place to stay at Ashford, but it is outside the park.

4. Re: Should we stay at Mt. Rainier or Castle Rock?

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