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History of Park


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Nearby Cities and Towns
Ashford, 23 miles
Auburn, 62 miles
Buckley, 59 miles
Crystal Mountain, 46 miles
Eatonville, 44 miles
Elbe, 31 miles
Enumclaw, 63 miles
Greenwater, 19 miles
Mineral, 19 miles
Morton, 30 miles
Packwood, 29 miles
Randle, 48 miles
Tacoma, 60 miles
Yakima, 74 miles

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Mount Rainier National Park

History of the Park

In 1792, British explorer Captain George Vancouver named the mountain for his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier (who never visited his namesake peak.)

The volcano's proximity to urban centers such as Tacoma, Olympia and Seattle, means Mount Rainier has long made an impression on the local population. (It is still an awesome sight today, putting the skyscrapers into perspective!) The first recorded summating of the mountain took place on August 17, 1870 by Philemon Beecher Van Trump and Hazard Stevens. Only the good fortune of finding a warm volcanic steam cave kept the two men from freezing to death during an unplanned overnight stay on the summit. This was at a time when Seattle had a population of little more than 1,000, yet this climb and others made the news.


View of the summit from within the Yakima Park
area, just above the Sunrise Day Lodge & Visitor Center

In the days of travel by horseback, tourists could get to the mountain in 2-3 days. In the 1850s, James Longmire, a farmer settled near Yelm Prairie, established the Packwood Trail. He guided many aspiring mountain climbers on this route from the Pacific coast to Mount Rainier's slopes. Increasing visitation led to a campaign to protect the area as a national park.

In 1899, Mount Rainier was the fifth area in the United States to be designated a National Park. In 1911 the first car reached the area. As roads and railways began pushing into the wilderness, and the population grew, so did the number of visitors to the National Park. Annual visitation was already exceeding one million in the 1950s, and continues to exceed two million today. Of these, thousands complete the two-day trip to the summit. Some have explored the melted tunnels in the ice-cap. In 1962 Rainier was used as the training ground for the successful American expedition to Mount Everest.

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