With the Northwest's singular natural icon as its centerpiece, the Mt. Rainier region is comprised of some 2,800 square miles including one national park as well as portions of seven wilderness areas, three national forest areas, and picturesque mountain communities.
Visit Rainier Executive Director: Mary Kay Nelson E-mail: VisitRainier@LocalAccess.com
Phone: Toll free 877.270.7155 Website: www.visitrainier.com
Mt. Rainier is 68 miles south/southeast of Seattle, Washington, and 95 miles north/northeast of Portland, Oregon.
An active volcano that last erupted in 1854, Mt. Rainier dominates the Seattle/Tacoma landscape, rising some three miles from the lowlands and towering a mile and a half above the surrounding mountains. It is 14,411 feet tall -- the tallest singular peak in the lower 48 states. It has the largest glacial system in the lower 48 states with 25 named glaciers (www.nps.gov/archive/mora/ncrd/glaciers.htm). Carbon Glacier is the largest glacier by volume in the continental U.S., while Emmons Glacier covers the largest area of any glacier in the continental U.S. Mt. Rainier is part of the Cascades Range and forms a trine with Mount St. Helens and Mt. Adams. The region includes three important mountain passes: White Pass (4,500 feet above sea level), Cayuse Pass (elevation: 4,675 feet) and Chinook Pass (elevation: 5,430 feet). White Pass is the only one to remain open year round.
Lodging options in the Visit Rainier region are plentiful. They include historic inns within Mount Rainier National Park, historic lodges in Mineral and Ashford, historic hotels in Packwood, resorts, hotels, spas, mountain vacation retreats and vacation home rentals, bed and breakfasts, cabins, a tree house, and more in Ashford, Greenwater, Crystal Mountain and other surrounding communities.
SHOPPING AND DINING:
Restaurants, cafes, espresso stands, outfitters, gift shops, grocery stores, and more can be found in the communities surrounding the mountain. Within the park, there is a restaurant at the National Park Inn, Longmire, and snacks at gift shops in the Sunrise and Paradise visitor centers.
ACCESS TO MOUNT RAINIER:
PARKS, NATIONAL FOREST & WILDERNESS AREAS:
Mount Rainier National Park, covering 235,612 acres, includes such well-known sites as Paradise, Sunrise at 6,400 feet, the highest point in the park accessible by car, Longmire, Ohanapecosh, Grove of the Patriarchs, Tipsoo Lake, 25 named glaciers, and wildflower carpeted sub-alpine meadows.
Bordering the national park are the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest and Wenatchee National Forest, as well as the Wilkeson, Norse Peak, Clearwater, William O. Douglas, Tatoosh and Glacier View wilderness areas. Goat Rocks Willderness borders both the Tatoosh and William O. Douglas wilderness areas.
OTHER KEY AND/OR UNIQUE ATTRACTIONS:
Trails for all ability levels -- An established and well-maintained trail system within and outside the park offers varying levels of difficulty, diverse terrain and many scenic vistas. More renowned trails include the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, which skirts the park's east boundaries, and the Wonderland Trail, which circumnavigates Mt. Rainier. There are 240 miles of maintained trails within the park itself. A selection of hikes can be accessed at www.visitrainier.com.
Mount Tahoma Trails Association Hut-to-Hut Trial System -- the nation's most extensive no-fee hut-to-hut system trail, offers 50 miles of trails, 20 of which are groomed, three huts and a yurt. Designed for use by cross-country skiers during the snowy months, the trail is enjoyed by mountain bikers and hikers during the rest of the year. The system is best accessed from Hwy. 706 -- one mile west of Ashford.
Crystal Mountain and White Pass ski areas -- The Mt. Rainier region boasts some of the best snow in the west with 350 inches of average annual snowfall on Crystal Mountain, the largest ski area in Washington, and at White Pass. The two ski areas offer days of downhill and/or Nordic runs. Crystal Mountain also offers dinners at the summit during the summer.
Crystal clear mountain lakes, sparkling streams and milky, mineral-rich glacial rivers -- There are five major rivers the Carbon, White, Cowlitz, Nisqually and Puyallup which originate from Mt. Rainier and more than 100 waterfalls in the park alone.
Flora and fauna viewing opportunities -- With extensive wilderness lands, national forests and protected national park habitat, the Mt. Rainier region supports an abundance of wildlife. The Oak Creek elk and mountain goat feeding stations in the Naches Ranger District (east of White Pass, near the intersection of Hwy. 12 and Hwy. 410) provide easy viewing during feeding times in the winter months and other opportunities year round. On rocky slopes within and outside the national park, marmots can often be spotted. In all, fifty species of mammals make their homes in the park. Bird populations are plentiful with 130 species spotted within the park; abrupt elevation changes allow for observable vertical migrations. The environs also support a profusion of wildflowers in sub-alpine meadows.
Northwest Trek, near Eatonville, is a 715-acre wildlife park, which offers an interpretive tram ride through 435 acres of free roaming habitat with opportunities to spot elk, moose, buffalo, mountain goats, big horn sheep, black-tail deer, and more. Penned exhibits are of black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, cougar, lynx, wolverines, badgers, raccoons, otters, owls, eagles and more.
Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad offers vintage steam train excursions and themed rides through the foothills of Mt. Rainier originating out of Elbe and/or Mineral.
Pioneer Farm Museum & Ohop Indian Village, Eatonville, provide glimpses into Indian and pioneer life and work as well as offering extensive interactive educational programs for schools and small groups.
EXTREME RECREATION AND EVENTS:
Summit climbs -- Most frequently summit attempts are made from the southeast, up the Muir Snowfield to Camp Muir and then up to the summit, crossing the Emmons Glacier. This technical climb requires excellent physical health and experience. Guides are recommended, especially for first time climbers. Attempts to summit are also made from the northeast, up the Winthrop Glacier from Camp Shurman.
RAMROD -- Ride Around Mountain Rainier in One Day offers a challenging 154-mile road bike ultra-marathon to a limited field of riders. The course features 10,000 feet of climbing.
Competitive ski and snowboard events are hosted each year at Crystal Mountain and White Pass.
Wonderland Trail treks -- Some choose to hike around Mt. Rainier on the Wonderland Trail in one trip, others bite off a portion at a time to complete the 93-mile trek.
OTHER KEY REGIONAL EVENTS:
MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES IN THE RAINIER REGION:
Crystal Mountain, at the Northeast corner of the Mt. Rainier region, 12 miles from Mount Rainier, in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, accessed by Highway 410 East. In the winter, a top-rated ski area with a 1,500-foot vertical drop and an average annual snowfall of 350 inches. In the summer, a popular outdoor recreation area with chairlift rides to Crystal Mountain's summit at 7,012 feet, Summit House dinners, and more. For more information, call Crystal Mountain Lodging Association at 360.663.2211. Or access www.staycrystal.com or www.skicrystal.com.
The charming community of Greenwater is located west of Crystal Mountain on Hwy. 410. Look for family owned and operated eateries, Wapiti Woolies, espresso shops, conveniences, and more.
Ashford, located six miles from the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier National Park on Hwy. 706, is a mountain community and base camp for climbing Mt. Rainier with outfitters, shops, restaurants and many lodging options, as well as host to several family-friendly events and celebrations. For more information, access www.mt-rainier.com or call the Mount Rainier Visitor Association at 877.617.9950.
Elbe, located on Hwy. 7 (just west on 706 from Ashford), is home to the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad and legendary "scale burgers." Just west of Elbe is Alder, known for fishing and water recreation on Alder Lake near the Alder dam.
Eatonville, one of the larger communities around the mountain, is northwest of Elbe, off Hwy. 7. Eatonville is home to Northwest Trek.
Mineral and Morton are south of Elbe on Hwy. 7. Mineral grew up as a recreation and fishing getaway around Mineral Lake, is home to a hundred year old lodge and is a frequent stop for the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad. Morton is a former logging town that is undergoing a renaissance with restoration of a historic train depot and theater, an active performing arts community, restaurants, services and more. Each August, Morton hosts a top international logging competition Loggers' Jubilee.
Packwood, on the southeast corner of the Mt. Rainier region, on Scenic Byway 12 and below White Pass, is a main street mountain town with lodging, restaurants, ice cream and espresso shops, ski rentals, gift shops, and more. The community hosts music, quilt and art events throughout the year. Contact Destination Packwood at 800.963.7898 or access www.destinationpackwood.com.
White Pass, at an elevation of 4,500 feet, is a major east west link that is kept open during the heavy snowfall months one of two in Washington to remain open. White Pass is home to the White Pass Ski Area with downhill runs and cross-country trails. Winter Carnival with its 'no rules chainsaw snow sculpture competition' takes place annually in March.
Naches, on the east side of the mountain from White Pass, is notable for the Oak Creek Wildlife Area and its feeding stations for elk and Big Horn sheep. In the winter, old logging roads are transformed into miles of cross-country ski trails.
Hwy. 410 from Naches north to Chinook Pass skirts the Naches and American rivers, and passes through the small town of Cliffdell, home to Whistlin' Jack Lodge.
Public Relations for Visit Rainier