Historic Paradise Area

Black and white historic image of a cluster of tent cabins in a meadow next to a large wood building and a view of a rocky ridge.
Paradise Inn and Camp of the Clouds, circa 1917.

Mount Rainier National Park Archives

The Paradise Area was originally listed as a National Historic Landmark District in 1991. Although the history of the area as a resort goes back to the 19th century, all the buildings in the Paradise Area date to after 1916, when the concessionaire Rainier National Park Company (RNPC) became instrumental to the development of the area. The period of significance for the Paradise Area starts in 1916 when the construction of the Paradise Inn began and extends to 1942. The activities at Paradise during this period reflect major development in the design and management of national parks, from the relatively disorganized approach of the concessioner in contrast to the more structured planning of the National Park Service. The Paradise Inn is separately designated as a National Historic Landmark for its architectural significance.

Located at 5,400 feet, the subalpine meadows surrounding the buildings at Paradise are included within the historic district because they have been an inextricable part of the patterns of human activity in the area over the last 100 years. They have been used for a wide variety of recreation since the late 19th century, including tent camps, ski slopes, stables, campgrounds, and even a golf course. The trails through the meadows remain the most heavily used trails in the park.

The trail network of the Skyline Trail, including Golden Gate, Alta Vista, and Glacier Vista trails, is counted as one contributing structure. The parking lots at Paradise are also a contributing structure. In combination with the buildings, these features still convey the character of the area as it appeared and functioned during the period of significance. However, the Jackson Visitor Center, picnic area, and associated roads have been heavily reoriented from the area’s original layout and are not contributing structures.

National Register of Historic Places: Paradise Historic District


Contributing Structures

  • Skyline Trail

    • Date Constructed: Circa 1915
    • Builder: Department of the Interior/Rainier National Park Company
    • The Skyline Trail follows much of the same path of a road initially proposed for Paradise. The fact that the Skyline Trail is a trail and not a road is a physical reminder of the important decisions made in the park’s early planning process to limit development in favor of preserving the natural character of the area.
  • Parking Lots

    • Date Constructed: 1916-1967
    • Builder: National Park Service
    • The formalized parking lots and trail hub have been present at Paradise since the period of significance, marking a transition from automobile to foot traffic.
  • Edith Creek Chlorination House

    • Date Constructed: 1930
    • Builder: National Park Service
    • Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an example of NPS rustic architecture as well as for its association with park engineering. It was designed with native materials and a low profile to withhold heavy snowfall and served as part of the water supply system for Paradise.
  • Edith Creek Dam

    • Date Constructed: Circa 1930s
    • Builder: National Park Service
  • Ski-Tow Power House

    • Date Constructed: 1937
    • Builder: Rainier National Park Company
    • A small A-frame building near the Guide House to run a motor and drum for a ski tow. The ski-tow ran until 1975.

Contributing Buildings

  • Paradise Inn

    • Date Constructed: 1917
    • Builder: Rainier National Park Company
    • Architects: Heath, Grove, & Bell
    • National Historic Landmark
    • While built of wood and stone similar to other NPS rustic-style buildings, the Paradise Inn and Annex are more “whimsical”, designed to be reminiscent of European alpine resort architecture. They are grander and higher profile than NPS buildings and represent the concessioner’s relatively ad-hoc development of the Paradise area. This influenced the park service’s master planning process to be more cohesive when designing other areas. The Paradise Inn was rehabilitated in 2006-2008.
  • Annex to the Paradise Inn

    • Date Constructed: 1920
    • Builder: Rainier National Park Company
    • Architect: Harlan Thomas
    • The Annex was rehabilitated in 2019.
  • Guide House

    • Date Constructed: 1920
    • Builder: Rainier National Park Company
    • The Guide House houses the Climbing Information Center/Paradise Wilderness Information Center today.
  • Ranger Station

    • Date Constructed: 1921
    • Builder: National Park Service
    • Its steeply pitched roof was designed to withstand the excessive amounts of snowfall at Paradise.
  • Comfort Station

    • Date Constructed: 1928-1929
    • Builder: National Park Service
    • This comfort station was constructed of stone and concrete to withstand snow loads and remain open year-round.

Contributing Object

  • Stevens-Van Trump Historical Monument

    • Date Constructed: 1920s
    • Builder: The Mountaineers
    • Along the Skyline Trail at Paradise is a rock bench that serves as a monument to the first known ascent of Mount Rainier. Text on the monument reads “Erected by the Mountaineers and the Mazamas 1924”.
    • Mountain Memories: Stevens-Van Trump Monument Video

Paradise History Articles

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    Last updated: December 12, 2023

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