Mt. Rainier National Park is one of three national parks in the state of Washington and is one of America’s oldest parks, being one of only five founded in the 19th century. The park was created to preserve one of America’s most spectacular scenic wonders, the snow-capped volcano known as Tahcoma to Indians in ages past and as Mt. Rainier now. While the mountain is unquestionably the centerpiece of the park, its 235,612 acres (378 square miles) also contain mountain ranges, elaborate glaciers, rivers, deep forests, lush meadows covered with wildflowers during the summer, and over 300 miles of trails. 96% of the park is classified as wilderness.
Mt. Rainier is arguably the most spectacular mountain peak in the lower 48 states. The peak, which reaches an altitude of 14,410 feet, rises over 8,000 feet above the surrounding mountains, quite different from the mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevadas or Rocky Mountains. Mt. Rainier is one of most massive volcanoes in the world.
Another feature for which the park is well known is the ice on the slopes of the mountain. There are 26 named glaciers on the flanks of the peak. This is the largest glacier system on any peak in the United States.
Mt. Rainier is one of America’s most heavily visited national parks as well, attracting more than 2 million visitors a year. This is due not only to the spectacular nature of its scenery but also to its proximity to to the major population centers in the Puget Sound area of western Washington state. It is located about 95 miles from Seattle and 70 from Tacoma. Some 3.3 million people live within 3 hour drive of the park, and about 1/2 of the park’s annual visitors are from the state of Washington. Over 2 million people visit the park each year. Among the prominent people who have visited the park are three presidents–Theodore Roosevelt in 1910, William Howard Taft in 1911, and Harry S. Truman in 1945.
Mt. Rainier is one of the most spectacular features of one of the most noteworthy parts of the United States.
Wind River Ranch is 70 miles east of this great Mountain, along the eastern slopes.