Mount Rainier National Park
Sights to See
"Of all the fire mountains which, like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest."
— John Muir
The following sights are a sampling of the best Mount Rainier National Park has to offer.
Enjoy the scenic, forested drive from Nisqually Entrance to Longmire, the park's oldest developed area. Located in the southwestern corner of the park, Longmire is the site of mineral springs found by James Longmire in 1883. He later built the park's first hotel, Longmire's Springs, on this spot.
When Martha Longmire first saw Paradise Valley, she exclaimed, "Oh, what a Paradise!" Once you see its lush meadows carpeted in wildflowers, you will agree. Paradise sits more than a mile above sea level and averages 680 inches of snowfall annually. In the winter of 1971—1972, a record 1,122 inches fell here!
In a land brimming with mountain streams and alpine lakes, Narada Falls stands out as spectacular. Along the road between Longmire and Paradise, the falls are formed where the Paradise River cascades 168 feet off a ledge. Take the short but steep trail to the bottom of the Falls for a breath- taking view.
Radiating out from the summit like the spokes of a wheel, the glaciers of Mount Rainier are its crowning glory. Nisqually Glacier is the most accessi-ble and the most studied of Mount Rainier's 26 major glaciers. Its terminus is only about a mile from the Glacier View overlook on the road that leads from Nisqually to Paradise. The Nisqually Icefall is a jumble of truck-sized ice blocks poised in a slow- motion tumble down the glacier, sometimes moving as much as three feet a day.
The Grove of the Patriarchs Trail showcases the old-growth forest in the southeastern corner of the park. Here, western red cedar, Douglas fir and western hemlock, some more than 1,000 years old, tower over the forest floor and the Ohanapecosh River.
The highest point in the park accessible by car, Sunrise is 6,400 feet in elevation. Located in the northeastern area of the park, it offers stunning vistas of the dormant volcanoes of the Cascades and Mounts Rainier, Baker and Adams. Mount Rainier rises above the tranquil subalpine meadows of Sunrise with the rocky summit of Little Tahoma Peak visible to the left. (American Indian legend says Little Tahoma [Takhoma] is the son of Mount Rainier and sits on her shoulder.) From Sunrise, watch clouds move in from the Pacific, bump into and spill over the mountaintop and cascade down Mount Rainier's eastern slope. You can see Emmons Glacier, the largest glacier in the contiguous United States, on Mount Rainier's eastern flank. It covers more than four square miles. Located on Mount Rainier's dry, east side, Sunrise receives much less moisture than Paradise and the difference is reflected in each of their vegetation. Subalpine vegetation is easily damaged. Stay on trails to avoid damaging these fragile meadows.
Sequestered in the northwest corner of the park, Carbon River is named for the coal deposits discovered nearby. Deep in the Carbon River Valley is the sole temperate rain forest in the park, produced by the combination of the area's abundant rainfall and mild weather. Explore the Carbon River Rainforest at the Carbon River Entrance or take a scenic drive to Mowich Lake. The unpaved road to the lake is usually passable by late June.