Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park
Yes, it's a big mountain, all 14,411 feet of it, and a very popular national park for those interested in hiking, mountain climbing, and witnessing the huge peaks of this Washington State gem and its twenty-six glaciers east of the Tacoma and Seattle area.  Hey, and it's also a volcano, with two over one thousand feet in diameter centers.  And folks have been visiting and witnessing these peaks for a long time, from the times when Indian tribes inhabited the area to those of George Vancouver, John Muir, and its dedication as Mount Rainier National Park by President William McKinley in 1899.  (Photo above)  Mt. Rainier from Eagle Peak in 1908.  LOC.  (Photo above right) NPS.

There is more than one peak at Mount Rainier, actually three, with the highest named Columbia Crest, and others Point Success and Liberty Cap.  And climbing the summit is an annual trial for around 10,000 people, althought it is an arduous task only for the most experienced climbers who have the ability to climb the largest glacier in the United States south of Alaska.

But there's a whole lot more to do than climb the summit, and that's what the majority of the over one million visitors do at Mount Rainier National Park each year. Depending on the way you enter the park, there is a visitor center nearby with exhibits, ranger guided walks, and hiking trails galore, including the mother of them all, the Wonderland Trail.  There is Sunrise Visitor Center in the northeast, the main Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center near Paradise in the south/central area of the park, and Ohanapekosh Visitor Center near the southeast corner.

Things You Should Not Miss

1. Take the drive up to Sunrise, the highest spot where you can drive.  Although it's far from some of the main areas around Paradise, it might just be the right spot for you to view the sights of Mount Rainier.

2. The new visitor center at Paradise has a park film that helps orient the visitor to the park.  Might make a good first stop for those new to the area, and even to veterans who have not yet seen the film.

Mount Rainier National Park
Photographic Print of Mountain Climbers on McClure Rock, Mount Rainier, 1922, LOC.

What is There Now

National Historic District of Longmire - Near the southwest corner of the park, the Longmire Museum is located at the site of the James Longmire homestead and resort.  The area includes the National Park Inn, Cougar Rock Campground, and nearby points of Christine Falls, and Glacier Bridge.

Paradise - Located on the south side of the mountain in the central part of the park, this area includes the Jackson Memorial Visitor Center, a park film, the Paradise Inn, and the Paradise Ranger Station.

Okanapecosh Old Growth Forest - In the southeast corner of the park.  This area is seasonal, and includes a visitor center, campground, and the Grove of the Patriarchs.

Sunrise - The highest spot in the park accesssible by car at 6,400 feet and located in the northeast part of the park.  There is a visitor center, campground, great viewsheds, and hiking trails.

Carbon River Rainforest and Mowich Lake - The wettest part of the park located in the northwest corner. Accessibility to areas has been compromised by the 2006 flood.  Check the park itself for details on road closures in that area.

Lodging and Camping

Lodging - Both the National Park Inn (Longmire Historic District) with twenty-five rooms, and the Paradise Inn (Paradise) with one-hundred and seventeen rooms provide great national park lodging experiences.  The Paradise Inn was built in 1916 and sits 5,420 feet above sea level.

Camping - Six campgrounds are located within Mount Rainier National Park, although several have been closed, or are only available to reduced traffic due to the 2006 flood.  

Cougar Rock - SW corner, 173 sites, open Memorial Day to Columbus Day.
Ohanapecosh - SE corner, 188 sites, open Memorial Day to Columbus Day.
White River - East side of park, 112 sites, open July to late September.
Mowich Lake - NW corner, 30 walk-in sites.  Open late June to early October, weather depending.  Highest elevation.
Input Creek - 28 sites.  Check concerning 2006 flood damage.  Has been closed to car camping.
Sunshine Point - Closed, 2006 flood damage.

Mount Rainier National Park Links

Mount Rainier National Park

Nearby Attractions

Washington State Tourism
Kondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Olympic National Park

Mount Rainier Then and Now

Climbers on Mt. Rainier
(Above photo) Climbing party on Paradise Glacier, Mt. Rainier, circa 1915, LOC.

Mount Rainier Then

Geology at Mount Rainier- Lava from 840,000 years ago and it's present cone from 500,000 years ago.  Two major mudflows have occured within the last 5,000 years, one, the Osceloa Mudflow reached Tacoma, and more recently, 500 years ago, the small Electron Mudflow.  The volcano last erupted in the 19th century.

Recreation at Mount Rainier- Although what we would call recreation today, i.e. Mountain Climbing, Hiking, etc. did not occur when George Vancouver came to the area in 1792 and named it after his friend, it has become part of the area's appeal for over a century, since its initial climb to the summit by the Hazard Stevens and P.B. Van Trump in 1870.  The land was set aside in 1893 as part of the Pacific Forest Reserve and six years later became a national park.

Mount Rainier Now

Mt. Rainier National Park

The Views - In the above picture, you can see just one of the summer views of Mt. Rainier from a walking path in Mount Rainier National Park.  Photo: NPS.  These view abound all over the park, from the developed areas to the trails that wind from them.

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Mount Rainier National Park
Visitor Statistics

1,148,552 visitors
#59 Most Visited National Park Unit


Mount Rainier National Park
235,789 acres (Federal)
236,381 acres (Total)

Source: NPS, 2013 Visitor Statistics.  Rank among 369 National Park Units.

Mount Rainier National Park Entrance Fees
7 Day Pass - Vehicle

Individual, Adult (16 years and up (Foot, Bike, or Motorcycle) -

Climbing Fee (Above 10,000 feet) - $30

Fees subject to change without notice.

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Mount Rainier National Park Weather

Most of the park has the traditional weather of the Pacific Northwest, wet and rainy, but less so, most years, in late July and August.  At the highest elevations, weather can change at any moment, and can be wet and cold anytime of the year.  In winter, they get lots of snow, over five hundred inches some places.