MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
235,404 acres. This National Park in west-central Washington is dominated by magnificent 14,410-foot Mount Rainier, a massive volcanic mountain which is the highest peak in the Cascades.
Also in the park are alpine meadows, lakes and hot springs, rivers and streams with waterfalls, ice caves, and 26 glaciersincluding Emmons Glacier, largest in the lower 48 states.
Forests are of hemlock and Douglas fir, spruce and western red cedar, with some old-growth stands. Among the wildlife are deer, elk, bear, mountain goat, mountain lion, and cougar.
Activities: Hiking and backpacking are possible on over 300 miles of trails. Included are the 93-mile Wonderland Trail, which circles around Mount Rainier, and a section of the Pacific Crest Trail (see entries page 294).
Difficulty varies from easy to strenuous. About 100 miles of trail are open to horses. Most trails at higher elevations are snow-free from mid-July through mid-October.
Cross-country skiing is available in the winter. Climbing is possible on Mount Rainier, with climbers asked to register before and after trips. Fishing is allowed, but hunting is prohibited.
Camping Regulations: A free backcountry permit is necessary, and may be obtained from visitor centers, hiker’s information centers, and ranger stations. There are no advance reservations.
Trailside camps (camping areas) are located along some of the trails, including at regular intervals along the Wonderland Trail. It’s also possible to camp elsewhere in the backcountry, but sites must be at least 100 feet from water sources and one-quarter mile from trails, roads, and any lake with designated campsites. Subalpine meadow areas are off-limits for camping.
Campfires are not allowed in the backcountry. There are designated horse camps for the use of horseback riders. At other than established group sites, groups are limited to a maximum of five. Pets are prohibited except on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Camping at high elevations is allowed only at designated sites or on permanent ice or snow. During the snow season, campsites are required to be at least 200 feet from roads, 100 feet from trails. Groups may be as large as 12 during winter.
For Further Information: Mount Rainier National Park, Tahoma Woods, Star Route, Ashford, WA 98304; (206)569-2211.