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Some Quick Answers to Common Inquiries

Visitors & Climbers

Over ninety million visitors have had the opportunity to visit and enjoy the park since its inception in 1899 & currently, over two million visitors are received at the park each year. Each year around ten thousand climbers attempt to summit (anywhere along the Columbia Crest counts) with about 50% success.


Mount Rainier has twenty-five glaciers. Put them all together and you get about one cubic mile of ice and glacial debris!

Well-know Rainier glaciers include:
  • Nisqually Glacier
  • Cowlitz-lngraham Glacier
  • Emmons Glacier
  • Carbon Glacier--Here's a noteworthy ice cube--it has the most volume and thickness of any glacier in the contiguous United States (as mentioned in the US Geological Service fact sheet for Mt. Rainier)
Who Is ?

Grenville F. Allen

is the first man to supervise the management of Mount Rainier National Park. These duties are assigned to him in 1901, and are in addition to his national forest management responsibilities in the state of Washington.

Oscar Brown

(from Enumclaw) is the first "permanent ranger" (other than a "seasonal", part-time ranger) hired for the park in 1906. He builds the beautiful cabin at the Nisqually Entrance in 1908 that still stands today.

Bill Butler

is thought of as the first climbing ranger at Mount Rainier National Park. That wasn’t the title of his job when he becomes a ranger in 1936, but climbing has always been a passionate part of his life. Bill participates in all key rescue efforts during his full career with the Park Service. He now lives near Olympia.

Asahel Curtis

Famous Pacific Northwest photographer, attracts more public reaction to the development (and lack of development) of Mount Rainier National Park than any other individual during the early park years.

George Davidson

leads the US Coast and Geodetic Survey of Puget Sound in 1852-1857. His survey calculates the height of Mount Rainier to be 14,444, not far off the currently accepted height of 14,410 (14,411 by satellite measurement).

John Edgar

leads a team that blazes the route over Naches Pass in 1852-53. Road construction is far short of the pass when the wagon train containing the James Longmire family struggles across in the fall of 1853.

Samuel Franklin Emmons

arrives in the Northwest in September 1870, hears of the Stevens and Van Trump climb, and (with Allen D. Wilson) reaches the summit on October 17th. They are guided by James Longmire.

Fay Fuller

a Tacoma school teacher, climbs to the 8700 foot level of Mount Rainier in 1887. In 1890 she becomes the first woman to reach the top.

August Kautz

US Army, is stationed at Fort Steilacoom in 1853. He climbs Mount Rainier in 1857, ascending to within 400 feet of the crest

Susan Longmire

energetic granddaughter of James Longmire, becomes the youngest female to climb Mount Rainier when she climbs to the summit in 1891, at the age of 13.

Dee Molenaar

knows Mount Rainier from top to bottom, from hot interior to icy surface. Before and after becoming a park ranger in 1950, he climbs and helps others to climb many routes to the crest. His book, The Challenge of Rainier, opens the history of climbing on the mountain for all who are drawn to its upper slopes. He currently specializes in illustrating and map making.

William Packwood

arrives west of the Cascades in 1844, and settles in the "Nisqually Bottom" area in 1847. He and James Longmire are notable explorers of the Indian trail system, particularly south of Mount Rainier.

Eugene Ricksecker

of the US Corps of Engineers, supervises the surveying, design, and most of the initial construction of the road we now use to visit Paradise. Beginning in 1903, the road is sufficiently completed in 1911 for the use of wagons and the first automobile driven to Paradise.

Indian Henry (Sutelik)

settles at Mashel Prairie (east of Eatonville) in 1876. He teaches James Longmire much about the trails in the Mount Rainier area, and later becomes his partner in developing the route to what is now the National Park.

Hazard Stevens

first climbs Mount Rainier in 1870 (with Van Trump), then again in 1905 at the age of 63.

Isaac Stevens

arrives in Washington Territory to assume his position as the first Governor in 1853. His son, Hazard Stevens, accompanies him.

Philemon Beecher Van Trump

arrives in Washington in 1867 to serve as private secretary of the current Governor (Marshall F. Moore, Van Trump’s brother-in-law). He and Hazard Stevens make the first confirmed successful climb to the summit of Mount Rainier in 1870. They are guided by Sluiskin.
When Did It Happen?

When was the first hotel built in what is now Mount Rainier National Park?

The Longmire family began building what was known as the Longmire Springs Hotel in 1888. By the next year it was in use, and it was added on to in several stages until being condemned and burned in 1920.

When was daily transportation to Longmire started?

The Longmire family had brought people to Longmire’s Springs by pack train (horseback) as early as the 1880s. Wagons could make the trip in the 1890s, but it wasn’t until the road to Longmire was improved in 1906 that daily stage service began. The commercial service soon took a back seat to private automobiles as means of conveyance.

When did the first car enter Mount Rainier National Park?

The first car was driven into the park in 1907. It was the first National Park to allow visitors to bring motor vehicles inside park boundaries.

When did the first car reach Paradise?

There is a dispute regarding the first car to reach Paradise. In the summer of either 1911 or 1912 (the report says 1912, but a government fiscal year began July 1st in those days), a car with the superintendent as passenger was driven to Paradise Meadow. In the fall of 1911, President Taft was driven to Paradise. The car became stuck in several areas of the muddy road and had to be helped by a mule team.

When was a trail (now known as the Wonderland Trail) first completed around Mount Rainier?

With help from the Mountaineers, the park completed a trail around the mountain in 1915. About a hundred Mountaineers celebrated by following the entire trail during their summer outing. It was about half again longer than the current trail.

When were the stone structures at Camp Muir (10,000’ elevation) built?

The public shelter and guide shelter at Camp Muir were built between 1916 and 1921 by joint Mountaineers and park service effort.

When was the Paradise Inn built?

Most of the construction occurred in 1917. It was opened for business before all of the planned construction had been completed.

When was the first public campground built in the park?

Until 1918 tent camps were run at a price by a number of Rainier park concessions. The construction of free public campgrounds began that year.

When was the first gas station built in the park?

Converted barns and 55 gallon drums of petroleum products were used to service gas powered vehicles as early as 1908. The first real gas station was built under government contract by the Standard Oil Company in 1919. It was used during ten summers, then torn down and replaced by the building recently restored at Longmire.

When was the Administration Building constructed at Longmire?

Part of the building was constructed and occupied in 1928. The second floor and a jail in the basement was completed in 1930.

When was the Sunrise Lodge built?

The Lodge as seen today was built in 1931. It was a part of a grand architectural plan that was never completed for lack of funding.

When was the CCC active in the park?

The Civilian Conservation Corps was busily building and repairing park lands and structures from 1933 to 1941. In addition to landscape work, they helped plant over 10,000,000 trout in the lakes and streams.

When was the worst accident causing loss of life on Mount Rainier?

In late December 1946 a military plane transporting young service men from a California base to the Puget Sound area became lost in a heavy fog and crashed into Mount Rainier. 32 officers and men lost their lives. The plane wasn’t found until the next summer.

When were "flying saucers" first spotted over Mount Rainier?

The sighting was recorded in 1947 by the pilot of a private plane while trying to locate the military plane that had crashed the winter before. It is not known what the flying objects were doing near Mount Rainier at the time of his search.

When was the Stevens Canyon Road opened?

The road connecting Longmire/Paradise to the east side of the park was opened in 1957. Construction had been underway since the 1930s.

When was the shelter cabin built at Camp Schurman (9702’ elevation)?

The Camp Schurman Cabin was started in 1958 and completed in 1961 by the Schurman Cabin Association, aided by government funding. It was intended as "an inclement weather shelter." Now used in emergencies and to store rescue equipment.

When was the Wilderness Act passed by Congress?

The Wilderness Act, defining land areas by the degree of protection from human development that they are to receive, was passed in 1964.

When did snowfall at Paradise set world records?

In the winter of 1971 a world record of 1027 inches of snow fell at Paradise. The next winter a new record was set there with a total of 1122 inches of measured snowfall. Another spectacular snowfall occurred in 1974, when a total of 1071 inches fell.

When was the Paradise Visitor Center built?

First called the Paradise Day Use Facility, the visitor center was opened in 1966. In 1987 the building was refurbished and dedicated as The Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center.

When were Mount Saint Helens recent eruptions?

Mount Saint Helens eruptions began in May 1980.

Mount Rainier has experienced many eruptions, such as a minor pumice eruption approximately 150 years ago and a substantial outburst 500 to 600 years ago, but it hasn’t put on a show as spectacular as its southern cousin for about 2300 years.

When was the worst climbing accident on Mount Rainier?

In June 1981 a group of 25 climbing guides and clients were caught in a major avalanche in an area above and east of Camp Muir. The avalanche, known as an ice fall because of the gigantic chunks of glacial ice involved, caused the death of 11 of the climbers.

When were llamas used at Paradise?

In 1983 llamas were tried out as pack animals by the park in the Paradise area. The creatures were too strong willed, and resisted heavy loads, so they retired to other pastures.

When was the park wilderness plan approved?

Twenty four years after the Wilderness Act was passed, the initial Wilderness Plan was approved for Mount Rainier National Park, and park wilderness areas were established in 1988.

When were Back Country Permits first required?

When the wilderness areas were first defined, it was recognized that a permit system was needed to monitor public understanding of and use of wilderness areas. Back Country Permits have been required on a year around basis since 1989.

When was the Carbon River Road washed out?

The road had been partly eaten away by flooding numerous times since it was first built in 1924, but the flood damage was extreme during the winter of 1995-96. In November 1998 the road was reopened to the public. Before the end of December it was washed out again. It may have to stay that way for a long time.

When do wildflowers bloom?

Before the winter snow has completely melted, the wildflowers begin to push their way toward the sun’s rays. Only the deep frosts of the emerging winter have the power to shut down their growth. The brilliant color of wildflower carpets changes from week to week during the summer, but blooming goes on for three to six months, depending on their elevation.

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