Mount Rainier National Park was established in 1899 and was the 5th national park in the United States. It is located 60 miles south of Seattle, Washington and can be seen from Seattle’s city center on a clear day.
Mount Rainier is an active volcano that last erupted approximately 150 years ago. The peak of the mountain tops out at 14,410 feet which dominated the landscape of the western Washington state which can evident in these aerial photos.
The mountain is stunningly beautiful as it rises above the tree line and reveals a rugged mountain top covered in snow. The mountain is spectacularly beautiful on a clear day as the carpet of large trees gives way to the snowcapped cone shaped volcano with the backdrop of a cloud free blue sky.
The top of Mount Rainier is covered with 25 active glaciers and there are places near the top of the tree line that are snow covered even during summer. So if you want to play in the snow but you don’t like winter then this is the place for you.
Mount Rainier National Park preserves an area of 236,381 acres (369 sq. miles) which is predominantly covered with ancient forests on the mountains lower slopes. The vastness of these forest can be seen as they stretch as far as the eye can see.
Driving through the national park provides a scenic drive even if you don’t get out of the car. Most roads in the park are open from late May to early October.
There are lots of trails throughout the park that allow you to hike in the middle of the forest. Hiking among this large old growth forest lets you really appreciate the size of these trees and the beauty of the forest.
The parks active glaciers produce over 150 waterfalls in the park, several over 300 feet high. Many of these waterfalls can be seen from the car or by just taking a short hike. One thing about waterfalls is that they change based on the weather conditions. Some of the waterfall in the park can be seen year round but other are only seasonal so do a little research on these waterfall before making a hike only to find that you are there at the wrong time and there is nothing to see.
There are nine (9) major rivers that drain down the sides of Mount Rainier and seven (7) of those are Glacier Rivers but these are not the only streams on the mountain. There are actually 470 mapped streams so it is highly likely that you will see many rivers or streams particularly during the melt off of the summer season.
Almost all of the water that finds its way to the rivers will end up in the Puget Sound but some of the water will stay in Mount Rainier National Park in one of the 400 lakes. Some of the larger lakes were visible in the aerial photos at the beginning of the post and some lakes are easy to reach from the road like the ones in the photos below. The most famous lake is Mirror Lake because it can have a reflection of Mount Rainier if there is no wind. Just a slight breeze can ruin the reflection but if you get lucky the wind may calm long enough to get the perfect picture.
Spring and summer are perfect time to native wild flowers come into bloom. Wild flowers can be found almost everywhere. They can be found on the side of the road, along the lakes edge of on the hiking trails. For me, seeing the natural blooming of wild flowers makes me think of renewed life and new beginnings. It is like the feeling that I get at the beginning of the New Year. It like getting a fresh start!
Mount Rainier National Park is a spectacular place. There is something for everyone. It can be enjoyed by driving its scenic roads, finding a quiet place to relax or taking advantage of the many activities that go along with snow covered mountains, rapid rivers or calm lakes. If you travel to the Pacific Northwest, don’t miss out on experiencing Mount Rainier National Park!