Rockfall at Westside Road, photo by NPS

Rockfall at Westside Road, photo by NPS

Do you know some things Mt. Rainier National Park is known for from the following list?

A) Being 97% wilderness

B) Being established in 1899 as the 5th National Park

C) Having the highest volcanic peak in the contiguous United States

D) Having diverse vegetation from forest, subalpine, and alpine zones

The correct answer is…..all of the above!

I am definitely not in Florida anymore. I have traded sweltering, sunny summers on sandy beaches at sea level, for brisk, cool summers in the mountains. Mt. Rainier, the nation’s 5th National Park (out of 417 NPS units), boasts the highest peak in the U.S. outside of Alaska at 14,410 feet (4392 meters). The park is largely undeveloped forested valleys, snow-capped mountains, glacier-fed creeks & rivers, with a short-window for a spectacular, summer bloom of wildflowers. The experience is a 180 change in lifestyle and landscape from my home state.

First time hiking in snow and wearing snow shoes at Nisqually Vista Trail, photo courtesy of unidentified park visitor

Wildflowers and Mt. Rainier during the summer season seen from Upper Van Trump Park, photo courtesy of NPS/Sarah Pigeon

Wildflowers and Mt. Rainier during the summer season seen from Upper Van Trump Park, photo courtesy of NPS/Sarah Pigeon

Outside of Mt. Rainier’s natural beauty, what I find most interesting about it is its rich, native history. Archaeological artifacts date native inhabitants to around 9000 years ago. Tribes include the Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island, Muckleshoot, Yakama, and Cowlitz. The preservation of these communities and their relationship with “Takhoma” (Mt. Rainier as referred to by these tribes) continues to today.

I cannot wait to “dig up” more archaeological information about the park and learn from park archaeologist Ben Diaz during my stay at Mt. Rainier and training with the NPS.

Whether you’ve been on-site or on a site of Mt. Rainier, let me know what your favorite aspect of the park is!

Douglas fir from an old growth forest in Twin Firs Trail, photo courtesy of NPS/Chris Roundtree

Douglas fir from an old growth forest in Twin Firs Trail, photo courtesy of NPS/Chris Roundtree

Self-portrait in front of a fallen tree in Twin Firs Trail

Self-portrait in front of a fallen tree in Twin Firs Trail

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