Photo: NPS, Lupine Meadow (Some rights reserved)
Mount Rainier National Park encompasses 235,625 acres on the west-side of the Cascade Range, and is located about 100 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area. Mount Rainier National Park is approximately 97 percent wilderness and 3 percent National Historic Landmark District and receives approximately 2 million visitors per year.
At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is the most prominent peak in the Cascade Range. It dominates the landscape of a large part of western Washington State. The mountain stands nearly three miles higher than the lowlands to the west and one and one-half miles higher than the adjacent mountains. It is an active volcano that last erupted approximately 150 years ago.
The park is part of a complex ecosystem. Vegetation is diverse, reflecting the varied climatic and environmental conditions encountered across the park’s 12,800-feet elevation gradient. Approximately 58 percent of the park is forested, 23 percent is subalpine parkland, and the remainder is alpine, half of which is vegetated and the other half consists of permanent snow and ice. Forest ages range from less than 100 years old on burned areas and moraines left by receding glaciers to old-growth stands 1,000 or more years. Some alpine heather communities have persisted in the park for up to 10,000 years.
Cultural connections with Mount Rainier go back thousands of years, with artifacts found on the mountain as old as 8,000 years. The park maintains active relations with six Indian tribes in the area, for whom the mountain remains an important part of their culture.
Today, nearly two million people visit Mount Rainier National Park every year. Tens of thousands hike hundreds of miles of park trails, and thousands climb or attempt to climb to the summit.
At 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier is the highest volcanic peak in the Cascade Mountain Range. Mount Rainier National Park is the nation’s 5th National Park. It was created in 1899. It is a land of exceptional beauty, containing lowland valleys, waterfalls, alpine scenery and more than 25 glaciers. There are also two historic hotels located within the Park.