Season: Summer (May to September)
Cougar Rock Picnic Area is typically open late May to late September and is dependent upon weather and road conditions.
Situated 8.5 miles up the Paradise Road from the Nisqually Entrance, the Cougar Rock Picnic Area sits between the road and the Nisqually River. This picnic area accommodates a wide variety of needs by providing over 30 tables with at least one grill for every two tables. Many of the tables are within 20 feet of the parking lot, while others are more secluded and require a short walk on maintained paths through the trees. There are individual tables that can comfortably seat up to six people as well as areas of clustered tables to accommodate larger groups. The designated wheelchair accessible tables, restrooms, and parking are located near the far end of the picnic area from the Paradise Road. The accessible picnic area with two tables is on the left and the accessible restroom is on the right, each with their own designated accessible parking spaces.
The Cougar Rock Picnic Area and its campground counterpart are both one of many additions to the park from the Mission 66 program. Mission 66 provided a massive influx of funding for development and maintenance to the national parks. Mount Rainier National Park was at the forefront of this program, serving as the first national park to have a Mission 66 development plan. Part of this plan was to provide more accommodations for daytime use and relocate overnight camping out of sensitive meadow areas, resulting in a proposal for 1,200 new camp and picnic sites in the park. Originally, one of these proposed areas would be at Klickitat Creek on the east side of the park, but officials chose Cougar Rock instead. Both the campground and the picnic area were completed in 1961.
As you enjoy a picnic here, please be mindful of your impact to the landscape, wildlife, and other visitors. Trash cans are located near each of the restrooms for you to clean up and dispose of all waste. Never feed any wildlife or leave food unattended to avoid wild animals getting food that could make them sick or cause them to act aggressively. Please empty wastewater in sinks and deposit any solid food waste into trash cans. Potable water is located at each of the restrooms. While there are grills throughout the picnic area, open fires are not allowed outside of the grills, and you must follow any fire restrictions in place. Pets must be on a leash, not more than six feet (1.8 meters) in length or in a crate/cage at all times. Pets are allowed along the road and paved sidewalks and may join you at your picnic at tables. Pets are not allowed on any trails in Mount Rainier National Park. There are many small, maintained paths to get to and between picnic tables. Stay within the established pathways to reduce impact on the forest floor. If you choose to play music, please be aware of volume out of respect for other visitors and wildlife.