I’d never heard of the Carbon River before mistakenly visiting the Carbon River Ranger Station at Mount Rainier National Park during the summer. (You can read more about that here if you’re curious.)
Even then, I didn’t actually get to see the river.
That all changed some time after I drove away from the station to try to get into Mount Rainier National Park via the southwest entrance.
The Carbon River is a river named as such because coal deposits are found in the area, according to the National Park Service.
It wasn’t until I left the Carbon River Ranger Station that I realized the Carbon River existed. While I was driving toward Paradise, I was passing by an inconspicuous viewpoint that I decided to check out. The road was pretty empty while I was zooming by at 50 to 60 mph, so I had the liberty of darting my head and eyes around to observe more scenery and details than I normally do while driving in Los Angeles, where gridlock traffic and very assertive drivers are the norm.
I spotted a dirt lot and a bridge, and spent a few seconds debating with myself about whether to stop there or not. A few seconds might not be a lot of time, but it felt longer than it was because when you’re driving at 50/60mph, you have literally only a few seconds to make a choice.
Would it be interesting? Did I want to take the risk of delaying my already delayed trip to Mount Rainier if this place turned out to be a bust??
Eventually, I pulled over and walked toward the bridge where people where biking.
It was definitely not a bust!
I mean, it wasn’t an awe-inspiring, you-must-pull-over-at-this-spot kind of view point. But as someone who appreciates simple things and the outdoors, I wasn’t disappointed 🙂 It was worth the 10 minutes I spent there to document the view both with my camera and with my brain.
The moral of this experience is that it can pay off to take small risks like going with the flow and succumbing to sights that pique your curiosity. If things don’t pan out, what’s it to lose a few minutes? But if it does – like it did in this case – then you’ll have invested a few minutes into an enriching experience and discovered a new worthwhile backyard destination 😉
For more information about the Carbon River, click here to read more from Visit Rainier.