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Mount Rainier National Park is a northwest icon. The 368-square-mile national park commemorates the grandeur of Mount Rainier, the highest peak in Washington at an elevation of 14,410 FT (4,392 M) and one of the most active volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest. History books are filled with the names of explorers who have claimed Mount Rainier as a symbol of the Northwest region's austere beauty and magnificence.
But Mt. Rainier National Park's qualities extend beyond the beauty of this unusual mountain. Visitors come to the national park for a wide range of reasons, from experiencing its old growth forests that date back as much as 200 years, to appreciating its numerous waterfalls. There are more than 300 miles of trails spread across the park, including one that stitches the circumference of the mountain, more than 92 miles in total.
The national park's ecological significance has received numerous acknowledgements over the years. More than 90 percent of its lands are under wilderness protection. In 1997 it was designated a national historic landmark for its early examples of "parkitecture" structures, which can now be found throughout the country's national parks.
It also is home to a remarkable number of world records by mountaineers and athletes alike, who at times have had to compete with a mountain that sets its own levels for excellence. Mt. Rainier exceeded the world record for snowfall in 1972 with 1,122 inches and consistently receives the most snowfall in the Cascade Range.
Located southeast of Tacoma, Washington, Mount Rainier NP is a couple of hours drive from the Seattle-Tacoma area. State roads link its borders with cities on every side of the park, affording easy access during the summer months.
The park is open year-round. Winter visitors, however, should be well equipped and acquainted with the dangers of avalanche in backcountry areas.
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