National Parks

Mount Rainier National Park

Glaciated Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park is the fifth national park in the United States. It is located in southeast Pierce County and northeast Lewis County in Washington State. It was established on March 2, 1899, preserving 236,381 acres, including Mount Rainier, a 14,411-foot (4,392 m) dormant volcano.

Mount Rainier is an icon in the Washington landscape; it ascends to 14,410 feet above sea level, which is the highest point in the Cascade Range. It is a stratovolcano and the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A. spawning five major rivers. More than 25 glaciers descend the volcano’s flanks, often shrouded in clouds that dump enormous amounts of rain and snow. It is surrounded by valleys, waterfalls, subalpine meadows, and 91,000 acres of old-growth forest.

Wonderland Trail covers Mount Rainier, glaciated, and snowfields totaling about 35 square miles (91 km2). Mount Rainier is a famous peak for mountaineers with some 10,000 attempts per year, with approximately 50% making it to the summit.

Mammals that inhabit the national park include the beaver, bobcat, black bear, coyote, raccoon, snowshoe hare, weasel, mole, red fox, porcupine, skunk, marmot, deer, marten, shrew, pika, elk, and mountain goat. The common birds found in the park are chickadee, bald eagle, harlequin, goshawk, willow flycatcher, spotted own, Canada jay, finch, etc.

The park’s region, especially on the Western slope of Mount Rainier, receives large quantities of precipitation annually. It falls as snow in winter and at higher elevations. Snowing can happen in the summit area at any time of the year. The total amount of snowfall is substantial on the mountain. Some of the world’s highest totals occurred in the ranger station at the Paradise area, on the southern slope, which occasionally exceeds 80 feet (24 meters).

Peak of Mt. Rainier seen from a lake at Mt. Rainier national park

The park is about three-fifths forested, especially with coniferous trees being predominant. At higher elevations, tree species found are firs and western white pines. Douglas firs, western red cedars (giant arborvitae), and mountain hemlocks fill the dense forests at lower elevations.

The subalpine meadows appear at approximately 4,500 feet and grow more extensive as the elevation rises. At 7000 feet, there are alpine meadows. During summer, the alpine and subalpine meadows are covered with wildflowers that bloom progressively higher up the slopes as the summer passes.

The park houses hundreds of different wildflower species that give add beauty as they bloom in shades of white, yellow, pink, red, blue, and purple.

Some of the early season wildflowers are the lilies that appear like an avalanche because of their white petals and yellow centers. You can see Lupine, Jeffrey’s shooting stars, wild strawberries, and Calypso orchids in trails like the Wonderland Trail.

With its proximity to the nearby Puget Sound urban area, the park is a well-known destination. It has an extensive hiking trail that is the country’s premier hiking and mountain climbing areas. Visitors can choose from different paved access road points on the eastern and southern sides of the park. The park’s headquarters are at Ashford, southwest side of the park, and there are three visitor’s centers; Sunrise Ridge on the east, Ohanapecosh River on the southeast, and at the Paradise area.

What adventures Mount Rainier National Park offers?

Aerial view of Mt. Rainier

  • Exhibits at the Sunrise Visitor Center

The exhibit of words, artifacts, photos, models and videos will tell the story of the Sunrise area of the park, about volcanic forces that created the mountain, glaciers that mold the park’s landscape, the plant and animal life of the subalpine meadows, and the tribes that are tied to the area.

  • Hike the Sourdough Ridge Trail at Sunrise

You can enjoy mountain views and experience the quintessential Sunrise area hike to climb into alpine splendor on the family-friendly Sourdough Ridge Trail. The route ascends from the bustling Sunrise Visitor Center area to the top of Sourdough Ridge and continues east skirting the summit of Antler Peak.

  • Ride the Mt.Rainier Scenic Railroad

This ride is undoubtedly a scenic, historical, and incredible experience to anyone who appreciates a beautiful ride through the foothills for train fanatics. In the Elbe, you can board the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, which will give you an 18-mile picturesque journey on a vintage logging locomotive into the countryside near the mountain.

  • Discover Picture-Perfect Myrtle Falls

Watch the classic view of Myrtle Falls descending along Edith Creek, with bigger-than-life Mount Rainier backdrop. This is one of the most famous views of the Park. The falls descend 60-80 feet, skip along the rocks, through the exciting gorge carved out by Edith Creek.

  • Grove the Patriarchs Trail

You can witness an island with 1,000-year-old Douglas fir and western red cedar trees after a mile loop trail located west of the Stevens Canyon Entrance on the Ohanapecosh River. It’s a “beautiful loop trail,” according to visitors, and the old-growth trees are “amazing.” You can also enjoy the swinging suspension bridge. Self-guiding signs are posted along the trail.

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