Mt Rainier National Park

Overview

Introduction

This well-known national park centers on towering Mount Rainier, Washington's tallest peak at 14,410 ft/4,392 m high, crowned by glaciers. Underneath the scenic mantle of snow lies an active volcano. The volcano's last eruption occurred more than 500 years ago, but occasional rumblings and mud flow indicate unsteady conditions.


An enjoyable visit to the park depends on the weather. On a clear day, the white-capped peak and alpine scenery are stunning, but the mountain is often shrouded in fog and clouds. In the winter, it can be invisible for weeks at a time.


Visitors should plan at least a full day to stop at one of the four visitors centers and drive the main roads through the park. Those entering on the southwest side of the park will find the first center at the Longmire Museum. Farther to the east, the town of Paradise is located at the timberline, and the view of the massive peak rising above it is breathtaking.

In summer, visitors should drive the steep, twisting road that leads to the Sunrise Visitor Center on the park's northeast side. At 6,400 ft/1,951 m, it's the highest point in the park accessible by car. Numerous hiking trails start from the visitors center and cross lovely mountain meadows at the foot of the peak. Scenic overlooks, waterfalls and hiking trails are found all along the park's main thoroughfares. Plenty of additional recreational activities are available, including camping, hiking, picnicking, fishing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Experienced mountain climbers can journey to Rainier's summit.


The park is open year-round, but many areas are closed in winter. The entrance fee is US$25 per vehicle for a seven-day pass. Phone 360-569-2211. http://www.nps.gov/mora.

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