• Park Cultural Landscapes


Spaces & Places:
America's Cultural Landscapes


Stevens Canyon Highway

Mount Rainier National Park

Lewis County, WA

The Stevens Canyon Highway is a linear landscape in Mount Rainier National Park that extends 19 miles from Paradise to its intersection with the East Side Highway. Surveys for the road began as early as 1904 and construction began in 1931, but it was not completed until 1957 due to delays during World War II.

The road was designed by landscape architects and civil engineers as a scenic drive through public land, but also as an important connector route between the eastern and western sides of the park. The alignment of the highway was carefully chosen to showcase spectacular scenery, while carrying vehicles through Stevens Canyon and around Backbone Ridge using the route that was the most economically feasible and least destructive to the park’s resources.

The road links the major developed areas on the east and west side of the park including Longmire, Paradise, Ohanapecosh and Sunrise as well as numerous other attractions in between, such as Box Canyon, Reflection Lakes, Backbone Ridge, Inspiration Point, and various trailheads.

The Stevens Canyon Highway is a historic designed landscape, significant as a part of a rare example of an early national park scenic highway, and an integral part of the early master plan for the park. The highway is distinguished by outstanding engineering achievements and features of naturalistic design. The period of significance for the Stevens Canyon Highway is from 1931 to 1957, reflecting the period when the NPS coordinated the construction of the road.

The naturalistic character of the road is evident in the remaining landscape characteristics and features: spatial organization, circulation, buildings and structures, land use, topography, vegetation, views and vistas, small scale features, and response to natural systems and features. These patterns and their surviving features continue to exist as originally planned conveying the integrity of the road as a scenic highway.


Quick Facts


Library of Congress: American Memory Collection

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Photos