Cougar Rock Campground, on the southwest side of Mt. Rainier National Park, is conveniently located to the Paradise area. Paradise is the most popular destination in the park, with a lodge and visitor center, many miles of hiking trails and a commanding view of the mountain.
The main attraction at Mount Rainier National Park is the mountain itself, a glacier-clad volcano of immense proportions. At 14,411 feet, it dominates the skyline for hundreds of miles. Visitors travel through majestic old-growth forest, past tumbling waterfalls and historic buildings to reach sub-alpine meadows, where world-famous wildflower displays are seen through July and August. Popular activities in the park include sight-seeing, hiking, rock climbing and camping.
The Cougar Rock area is located at an elevation of 3,180 feet. Summers are dry and cool with daytime temperatures in the 60 to 80-degree range. Weather throughout the park can be variable, so visitors should come prepared.
The campground has one lookout point from which campers can view Mt. Rainier. Although it is peaceful now, the still-active volcano last erupted in the mid 1800s. The campground is adjacent to the Nisqually River and is surrounded by thick forests. A short drive to Paradise in summer reveals fields of lush wildflowers.
From the facility, experienced hikers and backpackers can access the well-known, strenuous but beautiful Wonderland Trail, which encircles the park for 93 miles. For those who enjoy learning more about the parks natural and cultural history, there is an on-site amphitheater where interpretive programs are held.
The group campground has five campsites and is located within the general Cougar Rock Campground. Sites are relatively rustic, but have drinking water, flush toilets and picnic tables. All group campsites must be reserved. Visitors must use extra caution with food storage, as foxes and other animals have been known to frequent the campground looking for food.
Mount Rainier National Park is about 50 miles southeast of the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.
Interpretive Programs: Educational Programs
Picnicking: Picnic Tables
Visitor Center: Ranger Station
Day Use Area: Amphitheater
National Park camping is so special, and luckily I have a friend who’s good at helping me to remember to reserve sites in January. This campground was lovely and it’s perfect for exploring the park. Stay here if you can get a site.
A mostly pleasant national park campground in a beautiful setting. Be advised that not every site has a lot of privacy and I would definitely not recommend site C012. This site has a trail right next to it connecting to loop B that numerous people use to get to the bathroom in loop C. Normally I would not mind people walking past nearby, but this trail was a mere 5 feet away from our site, so the entire time we were sitting at our fire pit, people continuously walked past us. The worst of it was at night when people had lanterns and headlamps and we kept getting their lights shined in our eyes as they walked past. Other than this inconvenience, I enjoyed camping here and would return again. I would just be more careful about which site I choose.
I’ve spent a couple of nights up here this year and I LOVE this campground. It is large, but there is plenty of separation and the sites seem to offer fairly good privacy and have a good amount of space.
I camp in a hammock and there are a lot of sites that offer enough well spaced trees to set up hammocks. There are nice fire rings at each of the sites, nice tables and firewood is available at the camp site. I didn't know before I went, but dogs are allowed as long as they are on leashes, BUT they aren't allowed on most trails around the mountain.
The campground is well situated to get you close to Paradise as well as a ton of hikes nearby.
There aren’t any showers, but the bathrooms are clean and have flush toilets.
Very nicely maintained campground. Get your reservations in the winter before your trip. Spots fill up fast. Bathrooms are clean. Tent sites are nice and provide plenty of room. Tent sites aren’t to close to each other but typical for national parks. Highly recommend this camp ground.
What could be better than camping next to a river on the side of a snow capped volcano
Bring cash and a card for stay overnight. Card for kiosk and cash for firewood.
Nice campground view of mountain from some campsites.
Also has wash basins at the flush toilets sites for washing dishes. Has recycle bins as well.
Not far from paradise.
Cougar Rock is a large campground (and the one closest to Paradise) with over 170 sites in six loops. Note that the maximum allowable length for motorhomes is 35 feet and 27 feet for trailers and 5th wheels. Loops A and E have some sites that are right on the road. Some sites are pull-through and most are spacious with varying amounts of privacy between them. Each site has a fire ring, picnic table, and a bear box. C1 felt very private, even though it was the first site in the C loop. You can hear the Nisqually River lull you to sleep. Don’t forget to bring your towel to the bathroom as there are no paper towels or air dryers in the bathrooms. The bathroom was reasonably clean but as with all NPS campgrounds, there are no showers. Cougar Rock was a very quiet campground on a Monday in mid-June, even though there were a fair amount of people camping. The campground opened in May; the sites are reservable June 21-September 3 only. If you haven’t reserved a site (and therefore pre-paid), there is a machine that accepts coins and credit cards (but not bills that I could see!) to pay for your campsite. The Wonderland trail is accessible from the campground, but you would have to drive to other trailheads. We are told you can get a great view of Mt. Rainier just across the street on the trail, but we will have to take the ranger’s word on it as the clouds completely obscured the view! No cell service.
We got a campsite near the back of the campground right next to a trailhead. The spots seemed to be well spread out so we had plenty of privacy. The restrooms were clean and the park rangers were very helpful. Only downfall of being near the trailhead was having backpackers walking through late at night coming back from hikes up the mountain.
We met some friends at Cougar Rock Campground on Mt Rainier at the end of September thinking we would have no problem getting a site. We ended up getting the very last site in the entire campground. So even if you're going a little later in the season, I would recommend getting a reservation. (And the campground closes in October for the season.) Of course, we ended up at a site right next to the bathroom, which is not my favorite. But once again, lucky to even get a site. The site (C-22) was actually kind of interesting because there is a big rock right behind the fire pit so you can sit on the rock and be a little higher over the campfire. The bathrooms were clean and fine. You really can't go wrong looking at the stars on a clear, September evening on Mt. Rainier.
On Sunday before heading back to Portland, we took the short drive up to Jackson Visitors Center at the top of Rainier where we took some easy walks (can't even call the hikes) around the absolutely gorgeous area. The colors were stunning! Then had some awesome chili at Paradise Inn right next to the visitors center before heading home. Perfect fall weekend.
Large campground located near the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier. Many sites tucked into large trees. Some loops close to main toad so the noise can be an issue, but overall beautiful!