Mt. Rainier from the trailhead to Snow and Bench Lakes. Copyright © Frank Kovalchek. Image used under Creative Commons 2.0 License.

Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state was established in 1899 as the fifth national park in the United States.  The park contains 368 square miles including all of Mount Rainier, a 14,411-foot stratovolcano.  The mountain rises abruptly from the surrounding land with elevations in the park ranging from 1,600 feet to over 14,000 feet.  The highest point in the Cascade Range, around it are valleys, waterfalls, subalpine wildflower meadows, old growth forest and more than 26 glaciers.  The volcano is often shrouded in clouds that dump enormous amounts of rain and snow on the peak every year and hide it from the crowds that head to the park on weekends.

Mount Rainier is circled by the Wonderland Trail and is covered by several glaciers and snowfields totaling some 35 square miles.  Carbon Glacier is the largest glacier by volume in the continental United States, while Emmons Glacier is the largest glacier by area.  About 1.3 million people visit Mount Rainier National Park each year.  Mount Rainier is a popular peak for mountain climbing with some 10,000 attempts per year with approximately 25% making it to the summit.

(Source: Wikipedia, Image: Frank Kovalchek)

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