WOW . . . talk about a mountain dominating the landscape!
Mt Rainier in Washington is one amazing mountain . . wait . . it’s actually a volcano! Anyway, you can see it from miles away and it is perfect. It is one of these mountains shaped the way a child draws a mountain, you know . . . a triangle.
It is covered in snow, all year long, which adds to its visibility. You simply cannot help but be in awe.
Mt. Rainier is one of the many volcanos in the “Ring of Fire” the seismically active strip that starts in South America, runs up the coast of South and North America (think San Andreas Fault line) up around Alaska to Russia and down along the West Coast of South East Asia and ending in the Southern hemisphere in New Zealand. A HUGE area of course, but the Ring of Fire is where you find the vast majority of the world’s volcanos. In fact, 75% of the world’s volcanos are found along this strip and an amazing 22 of the 25 largest eruptions in the past 11,700 years have taken place along this strip. It has something to do with tectonic plates and how the earth’s crust is formed.
I guess you can tell I find this kind of information amazingly interesting and it excites me no end to be here, in person, to see it a small portion of it (although I’d be considerably less excited if something blew up).
I recently wrote about Mount St. Helens, also part of the Ring of File, as is Mount Shasta in California. If you missed it, you can read it here.
Anyway, back to Mt Rainier and the Mt. Rainier National Park, another of the National Parks on our list to see this trip.
We were parked in Randle, WA, about 25 miles from the park entrance so a short trip to get there. We essentially took the “Mount Rainier Loop”, one of scenic loop drives that takes you across the entire southern part of the park. We had been warned by the nice man at the visitor’s center that the road was “bumpy”. Well he was not kidding, the road LOOKED fine, but rattled us considerably as we approached the park. By the time we got to the park’s entrance we were well and truly shaken! The mountain is of course in view pretty much the entire way with only trees occasionally obscuring the view.
We entered the park at the Nisqually Entrance, in the South West corner of the park and followed the Nisqually-Paradise road from West to East, exiting the park at the Stevens Canyon Entrance. Frequent stops were made of course to admire the magnificent views which presented themselves all along this route and take photos. Mountains and waterfalls dominated the scenic opportunities. The Christine Falls especially were spectacular!
Paradise is the location of a large visitors center and is located right below the mountain and offers fantastic views. It is also the place where hikers and skiers go to start their adventure and, to our somewhat amazement, people were still skying there. Additionally, lots of families with taboggans were out having fun in the snow.
Most national parks offer water bottle refill stations (rather sell more plastic bottles) and the water from the fountain there is ICY COLD, obviously cooled by the abundance of ice and snow which are available year round. Wonderfuly refreshing and so much better than buying more plastic.
Just beyond the visitor’s center at Paradise is the aptly named Reflection Lake, which was still mostly frozen over (note that were there in June). We DID spot a section of the lake where the ice had melted and we got a few photos there, but nothing like the view you would have had on a clear lake where the entire mountain is reflected in the still water. We will have to come back later in the season to get those shots.