Located in Washington’s Cascade Range about two to three hours drive from Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park's eponymous peak rises almost 4.4 kilometres above sea level and is considered an active volcano, though its last eruption occurred 120 years ago.
The 235,625 acres cover a multitude of ecosystems, from subalpine forests to low-lying wetlands, making it a rich environment for wildlife-spotting. Its home to 900 types of native plants, 126 birds, 54 mammals and 17 species of reptiles and amphibians – some of which are threatened or near-threatened.
Glaciers form another prominent portion of the landscape. Not to be missed is Carbon Glacier, the largest glacier by volume in the contiguous United States, and Emmons Glacier, the largest by area.
With glaciers this big, there’s no denying mountaineering is high on the agenda, but there’s plenty to do at a lower altitude too; choose from fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, foraging for mushrooms and berries, or skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
Mount Rainier is circled by the Wonderland Trail, which comprises several glaciers and snowfields totalling around 91 kilometres squared. Close to two million people visit the park each year to explore and admire, and keen mountaineers attempt to scale Mount Rainer with no less than 10,000 attempts per year.
Train enthusiasts will delight in the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad and Museum. Step back in time as you ride through the foothills of Mount Rainier on a two-hour steam train excursion along the Northwest’s longest continuously operating steam railroad.