Natural Features

Mount Rainier towers over the meadows and buildings of Sunrise.
The Sunrise Visitor Center and Day Lodge with Mount Rainier and the Emmons Glacier in the background.

NPS Photo


The protection, study and management of the park's natural resources and processes is essential for achieving the park's purpose and mission goals. The park includes outstanding geologic and hydrologic resources that represent key physical elements in the park ecosystem, including glaciers and snowfields, geomorphic features such as watersheds and landforms, soils, and paleoecologic deposits. Glaciers, snowfields, watersheds, and soils are especially sensitive to air pollution and climatic change.

A glacier curves over the summit of Mount Rainier

Glaciers carve through the landscape of Mount Rainier, fuel the park rivers, and are a measuring stick for climate conditions.

Two snowy volcanic peaks, one with the top cratered, rise above the landscape.

Mount Rainier is a active volcano. Lava flows and eruptions have shaped the landscape in the past, and evidence can still be seen today.

A man stands next to equipment set up on the rocky upper slope of a mountain.

Seismicity is the study of earthquakes. Earthquakes are monitored on Mount Rainier as one way to track volcanic activity.

Rocky debris fills up a river valley and wraps around some dead trees.

Aggradation, the process of rivers filling with rocky debris, can play a big role in flooding and other river behavior.

A rainbow arches through the spray of a waterfall cascading down a rocky cliff.

Explore a few of Mount Rainier's many waterfalls!

A line of steep, grey cliffs along a ridge surrounded by forest.
Geologic Formations

Explore Mount Rainier's geologic history through this selection of geologic formations.

A glacier carves down a mountain slope into a forested river valley.
Sunrise Geology

The road from White River to Sunrise is a journey through the geologic history of Mount Rainier. Discover geology through this audio tour.

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    Last updated: November 5, 2021

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    55210 238th Avenue East
    Ashford, WA 98304


    360 569-2211

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