This past Sunday, having read that while the road to Sunrise at Mount Rainier National Park was still closed to vehicles, the NPS had opened it for recreational use to hikers and bicyclists. Oh boy!! It occurred to me that bombing down that road on a bike must be absolutely thrilling! I just had to do it.
It was every ounce of thrilling I could expect. The views couldn't be beat, and the opportunity to not get shouldered off the road by speeding vehicles was very much appreciated. I set out in the early afternoon, parking at the toll-gate, and riding up to the closure where the road crosses the White River. This is where the grade steepens and the road begins long switchbacks up to Sunrise. It's a gorgeous ride, albeit a slow one, passing first through large old growth, which slowly gives way to high-montane old-growth, and finally through meadows and wee little Christmas trees. By the time you pass the last hairpin curve (Palisades Lakes Trailhead), you suddenly realize you're on top of the world. The White River canyon threads a silver trace in the canyon far below, a thousand Cascade Peaks spread like storm-tossed waves in every direction, and clouds gallop about in the endless sky above. It's early in the season, so the flies and mosquitoes are no more plentiful than the tourists. The air is just a bit warm, but the breeze still carries the slightest chill. The road is clear and dry, even if one must dodge a stray rock here or there.
It took me about three hours to ride up to Sunrise - and only about 30 minutes to ride back down to my truck. Strava tells me I gained 3249' and traveled 29.3 miles. Not bad!
I didn't stop along the way to take pictures, until I got near the top. The sun and clouds, the mountains and trees, along with the shuttered facilities and snow-clearing equipment, and the absence of tourists made for some fun photography!
Images taken on a bike ride up to Sunrise, Mount Rainier National Park, July 12, 2016.