Sunday, March 24, 2013

A different perspective of Mount Rainier


Mount Rainier from Raven Roost
Raven Roost Lookout in Central Washington offers stunning panoramic views of the state’s iconic mountain, Mount Rainier.

Getting to Raven Roost in the Wenatchee National Forest is a bit of a journey, but the views of the east side of Mount Rainier make bumps and potholes well worth the effort.  “Awesome” is how a recent first-time visitor to Raven Roost described the view.

At more than 6,000 feet in elevation, Raven Roost affords a view of Mount Rainier, sometimes hidden by clouds, sometimes cloudless and snow-covered but always majestic.

Mount Rainier, at 14,410 feet tall, is the most well-known of Washington’s Cascade Mountains. Pictures of the mountain abound on scenic calendars and other items promoting the state, though many of those pictures are usually taken from Paradise on the west side of the mountain.

Miles of velvety-green forests 

The only thing standing between Raven Roost and Rainier are miles of forest-covered valleys. Deep green trees, interspersed with small grassy meadows, and other mountains make up the landscape as far as the eye can see.

Visitors share the perch with a satellite tower, which is located at the rear of the perch.

Because of the altitude, it can be windy and chilly at Raven Roost, even on the hottest of summer days, so visitors should bring light jackets or sweaters to guard against the cold.

Getting to Raven Roost is a trip

Getting to Raven Roost is a trip unto itself. Raven Roost is a detour off State Highway 410 which connects the scenic Chinook Pass with Yakima. Turn on Forest Service Road No. 19; this is three miles west of the popular Whistlin’ Jack Lodge at Cliffdell. Follow the directional signs, making a left turn on Road No. 1902, which is a few miles north of Highway 410.

Motorists will wind through Crow Creek Campground, with the pavement ending a short distance from there. It is 13 miles from the campground to Raven Roost. After the pavement ends, the road is fairly decent gravel until you get to Sand Creek Campground seven miles up the road.

Motorists should be on the lookout for motorcycle riders in the Sand Creek area as several popular dirt bike trails end there, including No Name, Sand Creek, Yellowjacket, Crow Creek and Pepsi.

The road starts deteriorating after Sand Creek and gets progressively worse the higher you go. From this point on, don’t expect to drive faster than 15 miles per hour as the road contains many potholes. If you’re traveling in the early morning or late afternoon hours, be on the lookout for elk and deer on the road. At all times you should be on the lookout for dirt bike riders who frequently forsake the trails for the road, especially when it comes to the final ascent to Raven Roost.

It takes about an hour to drive to Raven Roost from Highway 19; the return trip takes half as long because it’s downhill all the way. The road is closed in winter due to heavy snow. Sometimes it’s not possible to get all the way up to Raven Roost by vehicle until July, though the road is usually open by mid-June.

Hiking into the William O. Douglas Wilderness

Just before you begin the final ascent to Raven Roost, Road 866 juts to the left for hikers who want to reach the Pacific Crest Trail about three miles away. Motorized vehicles are not allowed beyond the parking lot which has limited parking for vehicles and horse trailers. The Forest Service requires a permit for hikers who want to go beyond this point.