Mount Rainier in Central Washington Became a National Park
Mount Rainier in central Washington, a
14,410-foot volcanic peak, surrounded by pristine forests and
spectacular alpine scenery. It is also, in a way, a
timepiece. It looks very much as it did 200 years ago. On March
2, 1899, President William McKinley signed legislation creating
Mount Rainier National Park. It was the fifth national park
designated by Congress.
Do you know who made the area
near the mountain their home 200 years ago?
of Northwest American Indians made their home at the base of
Rainier. They called their mountain Tacoma (or Tahoma) and
viewed it as a symbol of power. English explorer George
Vancouver saw the huge mountain when he sailed into Puget Sound
in 1792. He named it Rainier to honor his friend, Rear Admiral
Peter Rainier. The famed naturalist John Muir visited the
Rainier region more than a century later. He first recommended
that the area be preserved as a park.
particularly impressed with the magnificent, colorful
wildflowers that blanket the mountain during the warm months.
The park today encompasses 400 square miles around Mount
Rainier, which is actually an active volcano. It was one of the
first parks to have nature guides, park rangers, a museum, and
designated "roadless areas." Rich in resources of all kinds, the
rocks, glaciers, water, plants, and animals have come to mean so
much--beauty, challenge, renewal, and enjoyment. In 1899,
200 people visited Mount Rainier National Park. Today, nearly 2
million visit each year. Would you like to be one of them?