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Mount Rainier National Park
Encompassing well over 200,000 acres, Mount Rainier National Park’s primary feature is the 14,400-foot Mount Rainier volcano. The park was established over 100 years ago as the fifth national park in the U.S., and is a prominent feature of the Cascade Range.
Mount Rainier is open year round, with visitation at its peak in July and August. The park is accessed via several entrances, including the Carbon River Entrance on the northwest side, and the Nisqually Entrance to the southwest. However, vehicle access is only available through the Nisqually Entrance in the winter.
The park is found northwest of Yakima – via U.S. Highway 12 or State Route 410. Other nearby Washington Cascade communities includes Ellensburg and Cle Elum along Interstate 90.
The park is split into five developed areas – the Longmire, Paradise, Ohanapecosh, Sunrise, and Carbon and Mowich areas. Moreover, the park houses three visitors centers, a museum, and a Historic Landmark District.
Attractions & Activities
Where to begin? The volcano and its surrounding territory is so chock-full of natural beauty and scenery, any outdoors-person will find no shortage of new discovery.
By the numbers, MRNP includes 260 miles of maintained trails, 147 miles of scenic drives, six major rivers, and more than 25 glaciers, including Carbon Glacier – the largest glacier by volume in the U.S.
For starters, the park is home to a collection of scenic park drives – like the Carbon River Road – running adjacent to Carbon River. Too, Mowich Lake Road takes travelers to a sub-alpine lake, while Longmire is great for mountain bikers.
For hikers, MRNP yields a seemingly endless supply of scenic trails. Ranging from the 20-mile Gold Lakes Trail to the three-mile Shriner Peak Trail to Wonderland Trail – which circles the entire park – there is something for beginners and experts alike.
With so much to explore, perhaps the best place to start your journey is at one of the visitor centers or museums – the Longmire Museum and the Longmire Wilderness Information Center have plenty of pertinent information.