On its way to Sunrise, the road makes a lot of hairpin turns, but none is more impressive than the final one. Here, the road to Sunrise circles around Sunrise Point. At 6,100 feet, you still have 300 more feet of elevation to gain, and another 2 miles or so to drive, but the view here is equally incredible as what you’ll find up the road.
Park in the parking area, that’s in the middle of the curve, then walk around for a minute.
This is the point on the road where Mount Rainier comes into constant view. This photo looks southwest, with Rainier on the right, and White River in the valley below.
If you look north, you’ll spot Sunrise Lake. A half-mile (one way) trail will take you there, and if you continue further, you can hike on to Clover Lake, and eventually Lower and Upper Palisades Lakes. That entire hike, which begins here at Sunrise Point, is 3.6 miles, one way.
My first visit to Sunrise Point in late August, 2011 was stunning. And as you can see from the parking lot (pictured above), it was crowded, too.
What a difference a month, and some bad weather can make! During my visit in late September, 2011, Sunrise Point was mostly fogged in, and my car was the only one in the parking lot.
There were a few promising breaks in the clouds, which cast shadows and beams of light on the hills to the north and east. Down below, that valley carries the White River, and WA-410, north towards the park exit, and Enumclaw.
The following morning, the clouds were gone — though they did leave behind a nice, white coating of snow on Mount Rainier, and a slight dusting along the edges of the road. From Sunrise Point on in to Sunrise, I had stunning views of Mount Rainier, just off to the side of the road.
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Mount Rainier National Park’s northeast entrance, out to White River Campground, then up to Sunrise. Watch for Sunrise Point around 7:35.
Also, here’s the drive from Sunrise to Packwood, Washington. You’ll arrive at Sunrise Point around 1:20.