Entrance fee is $25/7days. Note, Mt Rainier is a dormant volcano. Mount Ranier has a northwest entrance at Mowich Lake, but you can’t get to the rest of the park thru by car.
But the southwest Nisqually entrance is the start of a road that takes you along the southern border of Mt Rainer National Park, and then north from Ohanapecosh campground, the eastern border of the Park, to the entrance to the White River campground and Sunrise Visitor Center. The drive is stunning around the edge of a mountain and several switchbacks.
The Sunrise Visitor center is the highest elevation that can be reached by car, and you get to see a great snow cap of the glaciers here.
But I think the better view of the mountain is at Paradise Inn (or on google, Henry M Jackson Visitor Center) on the southern observation, where you can see several glaciers and wildflowers in bloom. And even hike further up the moutain. I think because it’s next to the Inn, the visitor center is nicer looking too, with a nice cafe.
As you pass the Nisqually, you can have you’re first picnic at the day picnic area at Cougar Rock Campgrounds in southwest, where they do have fire grills pictured below. Ohanapecosh campground at southeast entrance, also has a day picnic area with limited firegrills to use.
At Longmire, you can see the cross section of an old Douglas Fir, outside the museum.
This is the Nisqually River, with Rainier in background, before you reach the road to Paradise Inn. All along the road, there are pullouts where you can park and hike the trails or just enjoy nature.
Past the Paradise Inn, is a lake where you can see below Rainier.
This is probably red state humor, and the car is only just from Canadian.
Before you get to the Nisqually entrance, you can visit the Trout and Salmon hatcheries. You can see the little trout. It won’t take more than 10 to 15minutes to see each, but if you’re on the way to the southwest entrance anyway.
And see the salmons stairs attracting salmon, from the river.
And they have a cute state highway symbol.