Nature Notes

Vol. V August 29, 1927 Summer Season No. 9


Many friends of the Park have been greatly perturbed as to the effect of our new road building program the opening of new regions to motor traffic. They fear the coming of the tourist to these regions will decimate the flowers in these regions. The advent of the motor age has almost entirely changed the character of our park visitors. A few years ago park visitors came to us entirely because of the superior scenic attractions of the Park and they came expecting to explore the glaciers, trails and out of the way places. With the coming of the motor our National Parks have become merely objectives in the motor trip and scenic values have been subjugated to road values. This is shown in all our Parks. The completion of new roads, especially loop roads, has meant an overwhelming increase of motor traffic. A large percent of these travelers spend only one night at a camp. They do not wander from the road or camp. Only the flowers in those parks where camps are established will be injured by this increased travel. As an example, Van Trump Park, one of the most beautiful in the Park with a trail 2.2 miles in length and having on this trail Comet Falls, one of the most beautiful falls in the Park, has probably had less than 200 visitors this season. One hundred and fifty thousand motorists have passed the end of this trail this season but not over one out of a thousand persons have taken the trip over the trail.

Indian Henry once having almost as many visitors as Paradise Park now has about the same record of travel as Van Trump Park and these visitors are mostly the more or less permanent campers from Longmire. New roads will make congestion in present camps less severe and will aid in that respect. The greater part of our park area will still be unaffected by the motorist invasion, as about 95% of our motorists are satisfied with what they can see from the road.

By Chas. Landes, Ranger-Naturalist.


The abrupt slopes of Mount Rainier rising from a great wild life sanctuary give splendid opportunities for the study of vertical migration of birds and animals.

The lower slopes of the mountain are covered with vast forests of giant trees, almost jungle-like conditions. The summit is a barren field of snow and ice with the warm rock-rim of the crater sticking through 14,408 feet above the sea. With the possible exception of a few insects, there is no permanent wild-life communities at the summit of the peak. Several birds and animals however reach the summit on occasion and many approach it.

Harry Meyers and Maj. E. S. Ingraham once saw a black bear cross over the summit of the mountain. They had been storm bound in the crater for two nights and think it likely that the bear had been confused by the same blizzard and had climbed instinctively until he had reached the crater. He came up from the west and went down the north side.

Mantled ground squirrels and chipmunks have been found at Register Rock on the south rim of the crater, elevation 14,150 feet, during several different summers. Some are known to have been carried up by the guides from Camp Muir, 10,000 feet, and it is possible that the others were "stowaways" in somebodies pack sack. For a summer they could survive on the remnants of summit climber's lunches but it is not likely that they survived the winter.

Among birds there are at least five varieties that commonly go to 10,000 feet and above. These are the leucosticte or rosy finch which lives normally above timberline, the pipit, the Pine Siskin, the ptarmigan and the rufous hummingbird. The first four are high altitude birds by choice. What tempts the tiny hummer to such heights is not known but he has been noted repeatedly at or above ten thousands feet at various points on the mountain. Other birds, swallows, hawks and eagles especially, have been noted in flight at ten thousand and above and two dead birds, a sparrow and a towhee have been picked up in the snow at thirteen thousand feet. It is not known whether these were driven by storms until exhausted or were carried by hawks and dropped.

White Mountain Goat have visited the fire-lookout at Anvil Rock, 9,584 feet, on several occasions and it is not unlikely that they sometimes go higher. Deer, coyote, cougar, bob cat, marmot, cony, and weasel often go to timber-line and above but seldom if ever much above eight thousand feet. The white-footed deer mouse is common at Camp Muir, ten thousand feet, but this is likely not a normal range, the shelter and surplus lunches being the special inducements.

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