Home to numerous trailheads and the starting point for most summit hikes, Paradise also holds the iconic Paradise Inn (built in 1916) and the massive, informative Henry M Jackson Visitor Center, where a cutting-edge museum has hands-on exhibits on everything from flora to glacier formation, and shows a must-see 21-minute film entitled Mount Rainier: Restless Giant. Park naturalists lead free interpretive hikes from the visitor center daily in summer, and snowshoe walks on winter weekends.
The daughter of park pioneer James Longmire unintentionally named this high-mountain nirvana when she exclaimed what a paradise it was on visiting the spot for the first time in the 1880s. Suddenly, the place had a name, and a very apt one at that. One of the snowiest places on earth, 5400ft-high Paradise remains the park's most popular draw, with its famous flower meadows backed by dramatic Rainier views on the days (a clear minority annually) when the mountain decides to take off its cloudy hat.