Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mount Rainier & Mount Rainier National Park

UPDATE: Picnic, Campground, Lodging, Visitor Center Operating Hours & Seasonal Status at bottom below video...

In all my trips to go to Mount Rainier National Park to see The Mountain, in all the years I lived in Washington, I never saw The Mountain up close. It was always covered by clouds, thus invisible.

I must digress and explain that when you live in Washington and use the phrase "The Mountain," it is known that you are talking about Mount Rainier, even though there are many other big mountains in the state, only one is The Mountain. That's why The Mountain is on the Washington State license plate.

As I was saying, I'd never seen The Mountain, up close, then, last summer, on August 11, I drove from Tacoma to Mount Rainier, again. When we got to Paradise, that being the most popular destination in the park, where the historic Paradise Inn is located, and where trails lead to The Mountain, I was disappointed that, once more, The Mountain was shrouded in clouds.

I'd been seeing The Mountain over and over again during my stay in the northwest, I had good reason to expect to finally see The Mountain up close for the first time. The picture on the right is looking at Mount Rainier from the marina at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, near the Vashon Island Ferry Dock.

Other than no mountain to see, it was a beautiful day at Mount Rainier, so me and my hiking group started up the trail that starts by Paradise Inn. Even though the big mountain was not currently available for viewing, there was plenty of other mountain scenery to look at, heather covered meadows, blooming lupines, waterfalls.

We got to one particular waterfall, I believe Myrtle Falls was the name. There was quite a crowd looking at the falls. And then, a miracle started to happen. The clouds began to melt away. Bit by bit Mount Rainier began to appear. People started shouting, "The Mountain is coming out." It actually managed to be an exciting moment.

I was shocked at how big Mount Rainier is up close. I've been on Mount Baker. It looks big, but totally different than Mount Rainier. Rainier just looks mammoth.

A couple days ago I blogged about being surprised at some of the choices on a Travel Channel show listing the Top 10 Wonders of the West. Mount Rainier was not on the list, but Mount Hood, in Oregon was. At #5. That really made no sense to me.

Mount Rainier is one of the oldest National Parks, becoming the 5th National Park on March 2, 1899, not long after Washington became a state. Rainier is the tallest mountain in the Cascade range at 14,411 feet. It is the most glaciated mountain in the lower 48 states, with 26 major glaciers. The Carbon, Cowlitz, White, Nisqually and Puyallup Rivers all begin on Mount Rainier.

The summit of Mount Rainier has two volcanic craters. The last eruption of Rainier was 5 years before it became a National Park, in 1894. In the Tacoma/Puyallup zone there are signs pointing out Volcano Eruption Escape Routes.

Calling the mountain Rainier is controversial to some, like the Native American population. The local tribes called The Mountain "Tahoma" and sometimes "Tacoma." "Tahoma" means bigger than "Koma Kulshan." "Koma Kulshan" is the Indian name for Mount Baker. I don't know if "Koma Kulshan" means bigger than Mount Hood, or what.

The picture at the top is the view of Mount Rainier, early one October morning, from my sister's house on Lake Meridian in Kent. On a clear day Mount Rainier can be seen from as far south as Portland, Oregon and as far north as Victoria, British Columbia.

The YouTube video below was taken that day last August when I finally got to see The Mountain up close.


Call the park at 1-360-569-2211 to confirm road and facility status or check the website for current information.

Longmire Museum
(360)569-2211 ext. 3314
Open year-round.

Open year-round.

October 13 through winter
9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. daily

Henry M Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise (360)569-6036
The new visitor center is now open.

October 13 through winter
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. weekends and holidays only

Ohanapecosh Visitor Center
Generally open late May through early October.

Closed for the season.

Sunrise Visitor Center
Generally open July through early September.

Closed for the season.

Sunrise Road is open weekends only (weather permitting) through October 25. Restrooms are available, however no water will be available on weekdays. All facilities (including Sunrise Road) will be closed for the season by the evening of October 25.



Longmire Wilderness Information Center
(360) 569-HIKE

Closed for the season.

White River Wilderness Information Center
(360)569-2211 x6030

Closed for the season.

Carbon River Ranger Station
(360) 829-9639

Call for hours.

The road is open to the park entrance. The road is closed to vehicles beyond the entrance. Bicycle and pedestrian traffic is permitted beyond the entrance.

Paradise Guide House (Climbing Information Center)
360-569-2211 x6009

Closed for the season.

After Labor Day, climbers may register for climbs at the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center information desk, or self-register at the Old Paradise Ranger Station.



Cougar Rock

Closed for the season.


Closed for the season.

White River

Closed for the season.

Ipsut Creek

The road to the campground is closed to vehicle traffic just inside the park boundary. The campground is open for backcountry use. A wilderness camping permit is required for overnight stay. No pets or fires allowed. No potable water.



National Park Inn at Longmire

Lodging, dining, post office.
Generally open: all year

Open Year Round

Hotel Front Desk
7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. daily

Longmire General Store
Adjacent to National Park Inn.
Gifts & basic groceries. Firewood sales (summer only). Snowshoe rentals (winter only).
Generally open: all year

Open Year Round

September - October
9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. daily

November through winter
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily

Paradise Camp Deli
and Gift Shop
in the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise

October 13 through winter
11:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. weekends and holidays only

Paradise Inn
Lodging, dining, post office, & gifts.
Generally open: May through September

Closed for the season.

Sunrise Day Lodge
No overnight facilities.
Food & gifts.
Generally open: early July to early September

Closed for the season.



Cougar Rock

Closed for the season.


Closed for the season.

Box Canyon

Closed for the season.

Ohanapecosh Campground

Closed for the season.

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