Mount Rainier National Park Facts! In this article, More Than Just Parks provides you with 10 amazing facts about one of America’s most magnificent national parks.
More Than Just Parks is your one-stop-shop when it comes to learning everything you’ll need to know about America’s national parks. We’ve got expert guides, beautiful photos, helpful tips, breathtaking films and so much more.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind some of these natural wonders. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing some of the incredible stories about these beautiful places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
More Than Just Parks takes a deeper dive with its national park facts. We’ve done our homework so that you’ll get more than you bargained for.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Table Of Contents: Mount Rainier National Park Facts
Mount Rainier National Park Facts
- Mount Rainier National Park Quick Facts
- 1. Native American Tribes Explored The Park For Centuries
- 2. A British Navy Captain Gave Mount Rainier Its Name
- 3. Climbing Mount Rainier Can Be A Challenging Adventure
- 4. The First Successful Ascent Of Mount Rainier
- 5. The Park Features Over 250 Miles Of Hiking Trails
- 6. There Are 25 Glaciers On Mount Rainier
- 7. An Air Force Lieutenant Landed A Plane On The Summit
- 8. Walt Disney Honeymooned At Mount Rainier
- 9. Mount Rainier Contains Over 65 Animal Species
- 10. Mount Rainier Has One of the Deadliest Volcanoes
- Summary of 10 Facts About Mount Rainier National Park
- Helpful Related Articles
- About The People Behind More Than Just Parks
- Meet The Parks Brothers
Mount Rainier National Park Quick Facts
- Mt Rainier Height: 14,411 feet
- First Ascent of Mt Rainier: August 17, 1870
- Mt Rainier Last Eruption: 1894
- Mt Rainier Mountain Range: Cascades Mountains
- Mt. Rainier Native Name: Tahoma
- Mt Rainier Closest Major City: Seattle, Washington
- Mt Rainier Type of Volcano: Stratovolcano
- Number of Major Glaciers on Mt Rainier: 25
- Mt Rainier is the tallest mountain in the state of Washington
- Mt Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous US
- Mt Rainier is the highest peak in the Cascade Range
Mount Rainier National Park Facts
1. Native American Tribes Explored The Park For Centuries
We begin our amazing list of Mount Rainier National Park Facts with archaeological evidence suggesting Mount Rainier has been used for the past 9,000 years. Multiple Native American tribes explored the river valleys, meadows, and forests to hunt, gather berries and look for medicinal plants long before Mount Rainier became a national park.
The Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island, Muckleshoot, Yakama and Cowlitz tribes continue to frequent the park. In recognition of their unique heritage and special relationship with Mount Rainier, park authorities have reserved special areas for Native American rituals and worship.
This process allows current generations to feel a special connection with their ancestors. Today, they continue to learn about the history of this place through its spiritual and cultural resources.
For the current generation, linking today’s tribal members to their ancestors, who lived in the shadow of the mountain for millennia, is a part of teaching them who they are and why their history matters.
2. A British Navy Captain Gave Mount Rainier Its Name
Another of the fascinating Mount Rainier National Park Facts is that, according to the historical records, Spanish explorers would have been the first to see Mount Rainier. We know they entered the Puget Sound in 1790 and likely saw this magnificent mountain from a distance.
What they failed to appreciate, given their long-distance, was the special qualities which made it a place millions would visit annually by the twenty-first century.
For Captain George Vancouver of the Royal Navy, this place was unlike any other he had seen. Vancouver, following the Spanish by two years in 1792, entered the Puget Sound. Unlike his predecessors, however, he remained to explore and map the area.
Vancouver Named Rainier After His Friend
Vancouver named not only the waterways and their immediate shores, but several of the mountains as well. Mount Rainier was named after his friend Admiral Peter Rainier.
Mounts Baker and Hood were also named after British admirals.
If you’re wondering, the cities of Vancouver in British Columbia and in the state of Washington are named after George Vancouver.
His expedition, which lasted from 1791-95, explored and charted North America’s northwestern Pacific Coast regions.
To learn more about this amazing explorer, I recommend: Captain George Vancouver in Alaska and the North Pacific by James K. Barnett.
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3. Climbing Mount Rainier Can Be A Challenging Adventure
One of my favorite Mount Rainier National Park Facts has to do with the dangers associated with ascending the mountain.
Rising to14,408 feet, Mount Rainier is the fourth highest mountain in the contiguous United States. It is approximately 11,000 feet above its immediate base. It covers 100 square miles, which is one-fourth of the area of the park.
Climbing Mount Rainier is not for the faint-of-heart. Each year, thousands attempt to reach the top which rises to almost three miles high. It’s sometimes called “the mountain that was God.”
According to data compiled by the National Park Service, as of 2022, more than 400 people had died in Mount Rainier National Park since government records were first kept.
About 25% of those deaths occurred while climbing on the mountain, which is an active volcano.
4. The First Successful Ascent Of Mount Rainier
Another amazing Mount Rainier National Park Fact has to do with the first successful ascent of the mountain.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the first successful ascent of Mount Rainier was made by General Hazard Stevens and P. B. Van Trump in August, 1870.
Stevens had quite a life. He’s also notable for serving in the Massachusetts state legislature, receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor for the capture of Fort Huger, Virginia in the American Civil War, and representing American interests against the British in settling San Juan Islands boundary dispute.
Stevens published a fascinating account of his climb in the Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XXXVIII, 1876. It’s definitely worth reading.
Their ascent was made on the south side of the mountain, by the way of what are now known as Paradise Park and Gibraltar, which is the route followed in recent years by many tourists.
After spending a night in the crater at the summit, they made the descent by the same route.
CHECK OUT: 15 AMAZING Facts About Grand Teton National Park
More Mount Rainier National Park Facts
5. The Park Features Over 250 Miles Of Hiking Trails
If you love hiking then this next Mount Rainier National Park Fact is for you.
Mount Rainier’s trails connect hikers with nature. The park includes a hugely complex ecosystem producing diverse beauty and vegetation.
The 93- mile long Wonderland Trail was used over 100 years ago by patrol officers and firefighters and was the first trail in the park that fully encircled Mount Rainier.
It’s one of many trail options. The park offers over 260 miles of maintained trails for your enjoyment with some ranging from a few miles to over 20 miles.
6. There Are 25 Glaciers On Mount Rainier
If you enjoy glaciers then this next Mount Rainier National Park Fact is for you.
If you want to see some magnificent glaciers then Mount Rainier is the place to go. The park has at least 25 glaciers (named) and several other un-named snowfields.
Some of the glacies that are definitely worth seeing include theCarbon, CoWiltz-Ingraham, Emmons, Kautz, Nisqually, Paradise-Stevens and Winthrop.
One of the wonderful things about this park is that it’s easy to travel to a location with a great view of some of the largest glaciers you’ll ever find on the North American continent.
CHECK OUT: 15 AMAZING Facts About Glacier National Park
7. An Air Force Lieutenant Landed A Plane On The Summit
Now here’s the strangest of the Mount Rainier National Park Facts.
Mount Rainier’s summit is over 14,000 feet so it’s easy to understand why someone wouldn’t want to climb it. How about taking an airplane instead?
That’s what John W. Hodgkin, an Air Force lieutenant, did on April 12, 1951. Hodgkin equipped his plane with skis and landed it on the summit of Mount Rainier at 14,410 feet.
At the time, this was a world record for a high-altitude landing.
And his story gets even more interesting. Hodgkin tried taking off again, but his plane wouldn’t start!
He was stranded near the top of the more than 14,000-feet-high peak. Hodgkin ended up spending the night in his plane in below-zero temperatures. Brrrr!
Why Wait To Be Rescued
A rescue team consisting of park rangers and mountaineers was sent to retrieve the intrepid lieutenant. Hodgkin, however, decided to take matters into his own hands.
The next morning, before the team arrived, he had pushed his airplane down the snow-covered face of the Nisqually Glacier.
Flying from Mowich Lake
Hodgkin and his plane ended up on the frozen Mowich Lake and, amazingly, landed safely on the ice there.
With the help of a National Park Service ranger and twenty gallons of gasoline, dropped from an Air Force rescue plane, Hodgkin took off again and return safely to Spanaway.
His exploits were the stuff of Ian’s Fleming’s 007!
What did he receive for his incredible achievement? Well, he was charged in federal court with landing a private aircraft in a national park without permission.
He received a $350 fine. Not to mention a six month jail sentence which was commuted. You can file this story under the heading of “Don’t Try This One Yourself!”
8. Walt Disney Honeymooned At Mount Rainier
Just when you thought that we couldn’t come up with any more surprising Mount Rainier National Park Facts we surprise you – again.
One of Mount Rainier’s most famous visitors would arrive in July of 1925. He was none other than Walt Disney.
After their marriage, Walt and Lillian Disney came to the national park for their honeymoon. They took in the sights, but couldn’t stay too long as Walt had to be in Seattle the next day to have a tooth extracted.
Now here’s a fun fact about the creator of Mickey Mouse. When you ask most folks who was Disney’s most famous creation they will tell you that it was the famed mouse named Mickey.
If you ask them to name Disney’s first big creation they’ll likely give you the same answer. And, they would be wrong.
Oswald The Lucky Rabbit
No one will argue that Mickey Mouse was Walt Disney’s most famous creation.
His first big creation, however, was actually named Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Believe it or not, Oswald was a huge hit.
With this success under his belt, in 1928, Disney went to New York to renegotiate his contract with producer Charles Mintz.
It turned out that Mintz was a cheapskate however. He wanted to give Disney not more money, but less. And, to add insult to injury, he tried to steal Walt’s talented animators right out from under him.
He Left New York Feeling Like He Had Lost Everything
At the time, Walt was working for Universal. They ended up with the rights to Oswald. Walt Disney left New York feeling like he had lost everything.
Fortunately for him and for millions of children around the world, on his train trip back to California, Walt sketched a new character who he believed could eclipse Oswald in popularity.
You guessed it! It was Mickey Mouse. So, perhaps Oswald wasn’t the lucky rabbit after all, but Mickey was most certainly the lucky mouse!
9. Mount Rainier Contains Over 65 Animal Species
At Mount Rainier, you will encounter a variety of habitats and life zones. At each of these zones, you will see different species including mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles.
Specifically, there are 65 mammal species, 14 species of amphibians, 5 species of reptiles, 182 species of birds, and 14 species of native fish.
Among the most popular of the animal species are Columbian black-tailed deer, Douglas squirrels, Stellar’s jays and ravens.
You can also find black bear, elk, and mountain goats.
Summer is an excellent time to watch the wildlife though you can find them during all four seasons of the year.
RELATED: Best National Parks to Spot Wildlife
10. Mount Rainier Has One of the Deadliest Volcanoes
Another of the amazing Mount Rainier National Park Facts has to do with volcanoes.
Believe it or not, Mount Rainier is home to one of the world’s deadliest volcanoes. Volcanic activity began between one half and one million years ago, with the most recent eruption cycle ending about 1,000 years ago.
Referred to as astratovolcano, this means that it is a volcano composed of alternating layers of lava and ash.
As the National Park Service has reported, Mount Rainier is the most hazardous volcano in the Cascades not only in terms of its potential for eruption, but also for the risk of producing major debris flows even without an eruption.
One Of Sixteen “Decade” Volcanoes
It’s hazardous potential has led it to be labeled as one of sixteen “Decade” volcanoes worldwide. This means that it is studied by the United Nations as part of its global program to reduce the worldwide severity of such potential natural disasters.
The last eruption of this volcano occurred 150 years ago. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research shows that Mount Rainier is one of our Nation’s most dangerous volcanoes. It’s likely to erupt again.
That having been said, the odds of it happening while you’re visiting the park are quite small. As are the odds of your winning the lottery. So don’t be afraid to plan your next trip to one of America’s most magnificent national parks.
Summary of 10 Facts About Mount Rainier National Park
- Native American tribes explored the park for centuries
- A British navy captain gave Mount Rainier its name
- Climbing Mount Rainier is can be a challenging adventure
- The Park Features Over 250 Miles Of Hiking Trails
- There are 25 Glaciers on Mount Rainier
- An air force lieutenant landed a plane on the summit
- Walt Disney honeymooned at Mount Rainier
- The park contains more than 65 species of animals
- The park has magnificent wildflowers which bloom each year
- Mount Rainier has one of the deadliest volcanoes
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About The People Behind More Than Just Parks
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. My sons have spent their entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
As for me, I’m a retired lifelong educator and a proud dad of these two wonderful guys who are hopelessly obsessed with the national parks. I taught history for over a quarter of a century. Now I enjoy researching and writing articles for More Than Just Parks. I’m always on the hunt for topics where nature and history intersect so please feel free to share any ideas that you might have with me.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then please sign up below!
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At a height of 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is the highest volcanic peak in the contiguous United States. It has the largest alpine glacial system outside of Alaska and the world's largest volcanic glacier cave system (in the summit crater).Does Mt Rainier have a nickname? ›
Various Native American names for Mount Rainier were "Tahoma", "Takhoma", "Ta-co-bet", and several others.How old is Mt Rainier? ›
500,000 years ago marks the beginning of the voluminous and continuous volcanic rock record that we call Mount Rainier. For the first approximately 80,000 years the new volcano was highly active, producing a thick apron of pyroclastic flows that are well exposed above Glacier Basin.What is Mount Rainier's original name? ›
Name. Mount Rainier was first known by the local Salishan speakers as Talol, Tacoma, or Tahoma. One hypothesis of the word origin is təqʷubəʔ 'mother of waters' in the Lushootseed language spoken by the Puyallup people.How did Rainier get its name? ›
Captain George Vancouver of the British Royal Navy observed the mountain while surveying the Pacific coast in 1792 and decided to name the mountain after his friend, Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. Mountaineers made some of the first non-native incursions on land, eager to summit the iconic peak.
Mountains are female. Boats are as well, bodies of water, even our vehicles.What tribes lived in Mount Rainier? ›
The land administered as Mount Rainier National Park has been since time immemorial the Ancestral homeland of the Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island, Yakama, and Coast Salish people.Was Mt Rainier created by a volcano? ›
Modern Mount Rainier was built by numerous eruptions over the last 500,000 years, alternating between periods of high volume and low volume eruptions. These eruptions built up layer after layer of lava and loose rubble, eventually forming the tall cone that characterizes composite volcanoes.What animals live on Mt Rainier? ›
At Mount Rainier National Park fall is the best season to spot elk and deer. Summer into fall is the best season to view marmots, pikas, golden-mantled ground-squirrels and chipmunks. Mountain goats can be seen most of the year but stay high in winter. Black-tailed deer can be spotted in forested habitats.When was the last time Mount Rainier blew up? ›
The last major eruption of Mount Rainier was in 1894. Early residents of Tacoma and Seattle reported seeing explosions on the summit, but it could get much worse. 5,000 years ago, a massive eruption blew several thousand feet off the top and superheated mudslides called lahar sped across the terrain.
Utah teen becomes youngest ever to conquer 7 summits.
|The 7 Summits|
|Vinson Massif||Antarctica||16,067 ft|
Mount Rainier became a National Park in 1899 and is the United State's fifth National Park. The mountain is 14,410 feet tall. Mount Rainier is an active volcano that last erupted about 1,000 years ago. Mount Rainier has 25 major glaciers.Who is the oldest person to climb Mt Rainier? ›
Bronka at age 77, climbing Mount Rainier. For years, Bronka and her husband, Ake, hiked regularly at Mount Rainier, including dozens of trips up to Camp Muir each season.How many people died when Mt Rainier erupted? ›
The National Park Service has compiled a long list of death incidents on the mountain since 1897, starting three years after a major eruption. At least 400 (documented) people have died on Mount Rainier since then.What happens if Rainier blows? ›
It would be hot, and it would melt the ice and snow. And tumble over cliffs. “The lava flows encounter those very steep slopes and make avalanches of hot rocks and gas that are hurtling down the mountain maybe 100 miles per hour or so,” Driedger says.What rock is Mt Rainier made of? ›
Mount Rainier is chiefly made of andesite and some dacite lava flows and has erupted sizeable amounts of pumice throughout its history, though not as voluminously or as frequently as Mount St.Who owns Mount Rainier? ›
|Mount Rainier National Park|
|Area||236,381 acres (956.60 km2)|
|Established||March 2, 1899|
|Visitors||1,518,491 (in 2018)|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
Much of Mount Rainier is composed of andesite lava flows. Lava flows may accompany explosive eruptive activity, but they occur more often after explosive activity declines. The term "andesite" refers to the chemical composition of the rock.Is Mount Rainier the tallest in America? ›
4. The tallest: Standing more than 14,000 feet tall, Mount Rainier isn't just the tallest mountain in the Cascades—it's also the highest mountain in the entire state and fifth tallest in the lower 48 states.Is Mount Rainier explosive or quiet? ›
Mount Rainier is a type of volcano called a stratovolcano. Over the past half million years, Mount Rainier has erupted again and again, alternating between quiet lava-producing eruptions and explosive debris-producing eruptions.
According to data compiled by the National Park Service, as of 2022, more than 400 people had died in Mount Rainier National Park since government records were first kept. About 25% of those deaths occurred while climbing on the mountain, which is an active volcano.Will Mt Rainier be renamed? ›
Federal officials, though, say there are no plans to rename Mount Rainier and that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's order changing Mount McKinley to its Koyukon Athabascan name of Denali was unique.Are there wolves on Mount Rainier? ›
-In September 2021, a second wolverine family was confirmed to be living in Mount Rainier National Park.Will Mt Rainier erupt again? ›
Mount Rainier is behaving about as it has over the last half-million years, so all evidence suggests that the volcano will continue to erupt, grow, and collapse.Are there snakes in Mt Rainier? ›
Mount Rainier National Park is home to few reptile species, but garter snakes can be common in the summer.Is Mt Rainier a extinct volcano? ›
Mount Rainier is an episodically active composite volcano, also called a stratovolcano. Volcanic activity began between one half and one million years ago, with the most recent eruption cycle ending about 1,000 years ago.Are there Grizzlies at Mount Rainier? ›
Black bears can be found at Mount Rainier National Park and are one of the largest and most feared wildlife species there, according to the park's website. There are no grizzly bears at the park, public information officer Kevin Bacher said.How big is Mt Rainier? › What is inside Mount Rainier? ›
Mineral Springs. Water from rain and snow melting on the upper slopes of Mount Rainier percolates down through fractures in volcanic rock where it is hydrothermally heated deep inside the volcano. This hot water then flows through subterranean fractures and mixes with cool shallow water.What was the first national park? ›
Thanks to their reports, the United States Congress established Yellowstone National Park just six months after the Hayden Expedition. On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law. The world's first national park was born.
Rainier Can Cause Huge Tsunamis As Well As Lahar Floods. One thing we know for certain especially about the Cascadia volcano system: these things erupt frequently and when they do, they often blow up and are very deformed by these eruptions, they are not…Will Yellowstone erupt? ›
Although another catastrophic eruption at Yellowstone is possible, scientists are not convinced that one will ever happen. The rhyolite magma chamber beneath Yellowstone is only 5-15% molten (the rest is solidified but still hot), so it is unclear if there is even enough magma beneath the caldera to feed an eruption.How fast can you climb Mount Rainier? ›
|Willie Benegas||4h 40m 59s||2008-09-17|
|Liam O'Sullivan||4h 46m 29s||2008-08-05|
|Justin Merle||4h 49m 35s||2008-07-09|
More than 10,000 people try for the summit each year, according to the National Park Service. All routes require ropes and crampons; as the most glaciated mountain in the contiguous United States, Rainier boasts more than 35 square miles of ice and permanent snowfields.How high can you go up Mt. Rainier? ›
Rainier's glaciers. Experience the classic Mt. Rainier climb, ascending 9,000' from its alpine meadows to its glacier-capped summit.Who is the youngest person to summit Mt Everest? ›
on June 10, 2010. Jordan Romero American mountain climber who was 13 years old when he reached the summit of Mount Everest. Rameo was accompanied by his father paul Ramero and his step-mother Karen Lundgren, and three sherpas, Ang Pasang Sherpa, Lama Dawa Sherpa, and Lama Karma Sherpa.How much does it cost to climb Rainier? ›
The fee changes with the Consumer Price Index every year. The fee for 2022 is: $53 per person 26 years and older. $37 per person 25 years and younger.How many times has Mt. Rainier erupted in the last 4000 years? ›
An especially powerful series of eruptions about 13,000 years ago deposited volcanic ash at least as far away as Wyoming. Mount Rainier in Pierce County is one of the most hazardous volcanoes in the United States. It has produced at least four eruptions and numerous lahars in the past 4,000 years.Did any volcanoes erupt in 2022? ›
There were 77 confirmed eruptions at some point during 2022 from 74 different volcanoes; 25 of those were new eruptions that started during the year. A stop date with "(continuing)" indicates that the eruption was considered to be ongoing as of the date indicated.What is the deadliest volcano in the US? ›
The May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens (Washington) was the most destructive in the history of the United States.
At least 400 (documented) people have died on Mount Rainier since then.Why is Mt Rainier so hard to climb? ›
Rainier is one of the more demanding climbs in the west. It is a healthy blend of mixed climbing, crevasse movement, glacier traversing, and exposed areas. A general physical fitness is required to partake in many of the Rainer programs.Is Mount Rainier a big volcano? ›
Mount Rainier, the highest (14,410 feet / 4392 m) volcano in the Cascade Range, towers over a population of more than 3.3 million in the Seattle Tacoma metropolitan area, and its drainage system via the Columbia River potentially impacts another 500,000 residents of southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon.When was the last time Mount Rainier? ›
The last major eruption of Mount Rainier was in 1894. Early residents of Tacoma and Seattle reported seeing explosions on the summit, but it could get much worse. 5,000 years ago, a massive eruption blew several thousand feet off the top and superheated mudslides called lahar sped across the terrain.How often does Rainier explode? ›
Although Mount Rainier has not produced a significant eruption in the past 500 years, it is potentially the most dangerous volcano in the Cascade Range because of its great height, frequent earthquakes, active hydrothermal system, and extensive glacier mantle.What would happen if Mount Rainier went off? ›
Its next eruption could produce volcanic ash, lava flows, and avalanches of intensely hot rock and volcanic gases, called pyroclastic flows.What would happen if Mount Rainier blew? ›
Routes connecting Tacoma to Seattle could be buried. Tacoma could face shortages of food and supplies. Many of its hydroelectric dams and water sources also lie in lahar zones. Then, there are long-term problems: Decades of flooding and erosion as rivers cut through fresh lahar deposits.Will Mount Rainier ever erupt again? ›
Mount Rainier is behaving about as it has over the last half-million years, so all evidence suggests that the volcano will continue to erupt, grow, and collapse.