Mount Rainier is the most prominent peak of the Cascade Range of western Washington. This range, created by massive uplifting and volcanic activity over the last 60 million years, extends from the Fraser River in British Columbia, south beyond Oregon. It is punctuated by many volcanic peaks mantled with numerous glaciers and snowfields. Its many rivers flow through gentle subalpine meadows and one of the richest forest preserves on the earth.
Between this range and the Pacific Ocean lie the fertile valleys of Puget Sound and the Willamette River. The abundant natural resources and favorable climate attracted thousands of pioneers across the Oregon Trail to settle in this region. Modest beginnings of water-borne trade and wilderness farming expanded rapidly, and 120 years of agricultural and industrial development generated a population expansion to the point where the Puget Sound area is now the home of over two million persons nearly 60 percent of the population of the State of Washington. Within a half-day's drive of Mount Rainier, four million people reside.
Though an established commercial center, the region has a youngness about it, a feeling that it is still perhaps a semi-frontier. Youth is reflected in its people as well. Over one-fifth of the population is between the ages of 15 to 24.
During the 1960's the number of people in this age group increased 56 percent, while the overall population increased 28 percent.
Industrial, commercial, and governmental organizations have responded to the increased interest in enhancing the quality of life in and around the urban areas. Support from all levels of government is leading to regional planning to correct present deficiencies and direct future growth in harmony with the social and natural environment. Provision of diverse opportunities for the utilization of leisure time is an integral part of this planning effort.
The area is fortunate not only in having well-developed facilities, but considerable opportunities to provide facilities for the future. Public lands available in western Washington include six national forests, three national parks, an excellent State park system, and large tracts of other State, Federal, and local lands open to public use. The many rivers and abundant water areas of Puget Sound provide for a wide variety of water recreation activities. The abundance of snow upon nearby mountain slopes attracts skiers and other winter sport enthusiasts.
Federal and provincial parks in nearby British Columbia provide additional recreational opportunities for the residents of the Puget Sound area.
While the tremendous diversity of recreational resources in the Pacific Northwest would seem to disperse visitation and impact over a wide area, such is not the case with Mount Rainier for there is but one Mount Rainier. "The Mountain" occupies a special place in the hearts of the people of Washington, the country, and indeed the world. While the entire Northwest provides a strong attraction for travelers, a trip to the region is not complete without a visit to Mount Rainier.
Last Updated: 10-May-2007