Mt. Rainier National Park, where earth and heaven meet! If you haven’t been, or haven’t been in a long time, treat yourself. It is a place where the word ‘awesome’ is an understatement!
From 5000 B.C. to the 1800s Native tribes lived in the foothills of the mountain they called “Takhoma.” In 1792 British explorer Captain George Vancouver named the mountain Mount Rainier for his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. Stories of the mountain before and after “white” people are abundant in many books and tribal oral histories. It has captivated people with its grandeur for thousands of years.
There are two places people can drive to enjoy the up-close splendor of Mt Rainer, Sunrise and Paradise. Weather permitting, Paradise is open year round, Sunrise, at a higher elevation, in the summer and early fall. Of course the park is multifaceted and high country trails and low-land forests offer unique environs to explore. A great place to start is the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center where you can watch a film about park, and on a rainy day, sit inside and enjoy ‘in your face’ views of the Mountain, should it peek out from the clouds! There is also a small visitor center at the Ohanapecosh campground (so much fun to say!).
Mt Rainier is to be enjoyed in all seasons, though winter is for those who enjoy lots of snowy winter weather! Paradise is truly a paradise mid-summer to fall when wild flowers are abundant. Be sure to pick up the wild flower brochure at the visitor center to help identify the flowers that fill the alpine meadows with color. Early to mid autumn, before the snow begins to fall, those same meadows are awash with reds, golds and orange from mountain huckleberry, blueberries, and further down the mountain, vine maples.
To those of us who love the mountain, each visit is a pilgrimage to a sacred place, a place of surprises, wonder and special memories. Click the links to learn more and plan your trip to “The Mountain”.
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