Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier (14,410 ft), also known as Mount Tacoma, in the south-west of Washington state, is one of a geologically recent chain of volcanoes in the Cascade Mountains that in the last few years have made news with spectacular eruptions. The volcano grew in size from the late Tertiary period onwards, the crater becoming ever larger. Over the last 2000 years it has been highly active. Its last major eruption was in the 19th c., but the clouds of vapour that still rise from the crater are a reminder that the volcano is not yet quiescent. In the summit region over two dozen glacier tongues reach down on all sides. On Mount Rainier is the largest mass of ice on any mountain in the United States outside Alaska. This is ideal territory for mountaineers and ice climbers.Information The park is accessible throughout the year, but many roads and tracks are closed in winter. The best time for a visit is summer, when the rich mountain flora is in flower.The park facilities, four Visitor Centers and fine campsites, tend to be overcrowded on summer weekends; it is quieter midweek. The volcanic massif is often shrouded in cloud for days on end, but on clear days is a landmark visible from many miles away.Flora and fauna Mount Rainier has a wide variety of flora, ranging from Douglas firs, hemlocks, Sitka spruces and ancient arbor vitae to modest anemones and heath plants. Red deer and roe-deer, marmots and mountain goats are frequently to be seen, and occasionally even bears and cougars.
Road to Paradise
The busiest road in the National Park is the winding mountain road from the Nisqually entrance (2000 ft), which runs through beautiful forest country by way of Kautz Creek to Longmire (2765 ft; mineral springs; National Park administration) and up to Paradise (5400 ft; winter sports facilities). From here there is a choice of memorable hikes (e.g. to the foot of the Nisqually Glacier).
Sunrise, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
From the White River entrance (3470 ft), on the Parkway, a road affording wide views runs up to Sunrise (6400 ft), from which in good weather sunrises of breathtaking beauty can be observed.
The 95 mi. long Wonderland Trail runs round Mount Rainier through magnificent scenery with numerous fine viewpoints. As the trail is very demanding, walkers must first obtain permission from the park administration.
Eastern Part of Mount Rainier National Park
The eastern part of the National Park can be explored on the WA 123 that runs through magnificent scenery from the south-east entrance to the park to the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center (1915 ft) and on to Stevens Canyon, a typical glaciated valley with spectacular waterfalls. From there a short side trip (on foot) can be made to the Grove of the Patriarchs with its giant trees hundreds of years old. From Stevens Canyon the road climbs northward to the Cayuse Pass (4695 ft), where the WA 123 runs into the Mather Memorial Parkway (WA 410). From here the Parkway continues north to Tacoma and Seattle.
Crystal Mountain offers year round activities, with alpine skiing in the winter and biking or sightseeing activities in the summer. If you are not interested in strenuous physical activity it's also possible in the summer to ride the scenic chairlift up the mountain and have dinner at the top.
Official site: www.crystalmountainresort.com
Address: 33914 Crystal Mountain Boulevard, Crystal Mountain, WA 98022, United States
Green Water - Federation Forest State Park
Known for its old growth every greens, Federation Forest State Park is a day use only area with hiking trails and an interpretive center. Come and learn about the forest with Douglas firs, western hemlock, Sitka spruce and western red cedar or just enjoy the great outdoors.