Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier © National Park Service
One of the oldest national parks in the United States, Mount Rainier National Park was founded in 1899 to preserve the lofty volcano, Mount Rainier, known to the Native Americans as Tahoma.
The snow-capped peak is visible from Seattle, 90 miles (145km) away and dominates the region, drawing thousands of climbers every year to dare the dangerous ascent to its summit. The rest of the park is a beautiful wilderness containing glaciers, rivers, deep forests, lush alpine meadows and over 240 miles (380km) of maintained trails.
There are five areas in the park that visitors can choose from as a base for a visit to the park - Longmire, Paradise, Ohanapecosh, Sunrise and Carbon and Mowich. Each of the areas has a different level of development, some just a basic campsites while others have extensive visitor's centres and restaurants, so it's important to decide what kind of trip you'd like before choosing a base. Spring wildflowers are plentiful and impressive, and it's worth going to the park in springtime just for them.
There are also several ranger-led activities throughout the year, such as guided snowshoe walks in the winter. Information for these kinds of activities as well as park events can be obtained at visitor's centres.
Telephone: (360) 569 2211
Opening times: Open daily all year round, but access is limited in winter. Visitors Centres hours vary, but are generally 10am-5pm.
Admission: $15 per vehicle; $5 per individual hiker, cyclist or motorcyclist. Valid for seven days.