A place of undeniable beauty, Mount Rainier National Park includes rugged mountain peaks and stunning wildflowers blooms in rolling green valleys. Only 60 miles outside Seattle, Mount Rainier is an iconic part of Washington’s landscape.
Mount Rainier National Park was established in 1899, 17 years before the National Park Service was created in 1916. John Muir, a famous naturalist and preservationist, and Bailey Willis, a U.S. Geological Survey worker, led the charge to designate Mount Rainier a national park because of its unique beauty. Willis commented that the park is truly “an arctic island in a temperate sea” describing the stark contrast between the huge snowy peaks and bright wildflower-filled valleys. The lifetime of Mount Rainier represents America’s growing relationship with public lands. During early years, park administrators primarily focused on attracting new visitors before the protection of natural resources. Hotels were built in sub-alpine meadows and roads were carved through forests. Treatment of the land evolved as environmental scientists developed best practices to protect and support the park’s natural environment. Understanding of how public lands should be treated has drastically changed since 1899 and will continue to shift.