Box Canyon And Stevens Canyon

Mt Rainier National Park

Ashford, Washington

Along Hwy 706 E of Paradise

There are enough top target destinations in Mt. Rainier National Park that it can be easy to skip some of the roadside stops to take in the view. But there are a couple stops along Highway 706 east of Paradise that offer an interesting contrast.

If you're coming from the west, you'll round a corner as you enter Stevens Canyon and you'll get a great view of Mt. Rainier above this broad glacier-carved valley. Take advantage of the first turnouts you find for photo ops because the mountain will disappear from view the deeper you go into the canyon.

As you continue east, you'll leave the canyon and soon reach the Box Canyon parking area. This is a very different kind of canyon, one carved by the Cowlitz River. Volcanic rock tends to erode with very vertical walls, and that is certainly true here. The river has carved a canyon that is 160-foot deep but very narrow, reminiscent of the slot canyons found in the desert southwest. Just about the only view you can get of this canyon is from the road bridge directly overhead.

The Wonderland Trail can be accessed from the Box Canyon parking area.

mt rainier stevens canyon

Mt. Rainier View at Stevens Canyon (P14A0609)
Driving in from the east, the road is low enough (lower right) that Mt. Rainier is hidden from view. It popped into view in my rearview mirror near this location, so I stopped at the first turnout I came across to get this picture.

mt rainier box canyon

Box Canyon and the Cowlitz River (P14A0597)
The Cowlitz River passes through Box Canyon 160 feet below the bridge.

More About Mt. Rainier National Park

Spectacular scenery. Great hiking. Challenging mountain climbing. Mt. Rainier has a lot to offer to those looking to get away from it all and to those looking for a great day trip out of Seattle. Box Canyon and Stevens Canyon are among a number of scenic stops along Highway 706.

When experiencing Mt. Rainier National Park, it can be easy to forget that Mt. Rainier is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. It has much in common with Mt. St. Helens. But Mt. Rainier is bigger, it's covered with much more ice and snow, and it is closer to major population centers. Lahars from past eruptions have flowed as far as present-day downtown Seattle and Tacoma. So enjoy it while you can.

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Nearby Sights

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