cascade range


Mount Rainier National Park

A Magical Place in the World

The Mount Rainier National Park can be found in Washington State, near Pierce County. It can be found just north east of Lewis County and was known as a national Park on the 2nd of March 1899. This was known as the fifth national park created in America and there are almost 236,381 acres of land within the park also. This land covers the high range of Mount Rainier; and the mountain has a variety of elevations from 1600 feet to around 14000 feet also.

The volcano found on the mountain range is almost covered with clouds; this means there is a huge amount of snow and rain that falls onto the peaks of the mountains every year. The Wonderland Trail circles Mount Rainier and is also covered by a lot of different glaciers and snowfields also. Over 1.8 million people go to the park each and every year and love to see Emmons Glacier and Carbon Glacier also.

The History of Mount Rainier National Park

Very high percentage of the entire park is considered to be protected and is preserved as wilderness. This is done under the National Wilderness preservation system; and these parts including Mount Rainier Wilderness and the Clearwater Wilderness. In 1997, on the 18th of February, the park was proclaimed a national historic landmark.

Mount Rainier National Park Facts
Christine falls near Mount Rainier

However, in 2012, on the 1st of January, the Park Ranger – Margaret Anderson – was shot and killed while attempting to stop a passing vehicle. The perpetrator Benjamin Colton Barnes hid in the park; and the authorities were on hand to close the park down. This resulted in manhunt throughout the entire park but the suspect’s body was found the next day. It was a sad day for the park as nothing like this had happened before.

The Native American Settlers and the History

It is thought that the earliest signs of life in the park were with Native Americans; and this was thought to be around 4000 years ago. The first signs were at the Bench Lake Trail; and for many years there have been many explorations of the park along Fryingpan Creek and Goat Island Mountain also. More and more want to know about this area and of the history of the park also. In one shelter found, there were hunting artefacts found but this shelter would not have been used during the entire year.

However, the park does have a national forest area within the park. In 1893, the Pacific Forest Reserve was created and that did include Mount Rainier also; the forest did get bigger however as the years went. There has been a lot of work gone into trying to ensure the park is preserved and is protected. Throughout the years, there has been a lot of work that has gone into making sure the forests are protected as well as the entire park. Thousands do a lot of work to protect the park and it is certainly very popular also.

The Mount Rainier National Park had to be closed down for a huge amount of time because of the flood which hit the park. In one part of the park, in late 2006, the Pineapple Express rainstorm brought down almost eighteen inches of rain water to the park. This all fell within 36 hours and a lot of the roads and camp grounds in the park were actually washed away.

The Major Attractions in the Park

The Park was named a National Historic Landmark district in 1997; and there are many amazing locations that are found within the park also. There are at least 42 different locations in the park that are found on the National Register of Historic Places and some are considered to be historical landmarks also. One of the biggest attractions is Paradise. There was no power in the Longmire and Paradise regions; however in 2007, on the 5th of May, the park was reopened for all vehicle traffic – this was only by Route 706.

Paradise covers around five thousand and four hundred feet in land; this is going to be on the south slope of Mount Rainier. This area is one of the very popular locations to visit today. Of the 1.3 million people who visit the park each year, almost 60% of all visitors are going to visit Paradise. The Paradise Guide House was founded in 1920 and in 1966; Henry M Jackson Visitor Center was built. This building was knocked down and rebuilt in 2008.

There is also Longmire. Longmire is a great visitor’s center and is located between the Tatoosh Range and the Ramparts Ridge. This is the place where western red cedar, western hemlock and Douglas fir are found. This is going to be one of the most popular areas of the park today, it’s the second most visited spots and almost 40% of visitors are found here each year.

Mount Rainier national park information
Mount Rainier National Park landscape

Sunrise is also an amazing place to visit. This is a beautiful lodge and visitor’s center found towards the north east region of the park; and to access the park, visitors will need to use a vehicle to reach there. There is however a miles and miles of trails found around Sunrise; these include the Sourdough Ridge and the Mount Fremont also.

The Mowich Lake is going to be the deepest and biggest lake throughout the park today. This is going to be found near the Carbon on highway 165. There are also a hiking trail, camp ground and a picnic area close to the lake also.

With the 2006 floods, the 2 major roads were damaged severely; this was in the North West part of the park. During the summer months, the Carbon River Ranger Station is fully staffed; however no cars or any type of motor vehicles are going to be allowed to go past this part of the park.

The park is a very popular destination for many to choose from and it certainly is going to be a location where millions visits each year. It’s amazing.


Mount St.Helens Volcano


Mount St. Helens is found in Skamania County in Washington State and is one of the active stratovolcanoes of the world. Its location in Skamania County puts it 50 miles to the northeast of Portland and 96 miles to the south of Seattle. This volcano is part of the Cascade Range and during the current Holocene period, it has actually been the most active in this range. In addition to being the most active, scientists predict that it is the most likely to erupt of all of the volcanoes found in the United States. The volcano has an elevation of 8,363 feet and contains a horseshoe-shaped crater which developed during its most famous eruption in 1980.

Early History

Mount St. Helens has been active for around 275,000 years during which time it has experienced all sorts of volcanic activity ranging from quiet lava outpourings to violent explosive eruptions. During the previous few thousand years Mount St. Helens finally reached the elevation of 8363 feet (before had 9,677 feet) which made it the fifth tallest peak in Washington. It reached its current height after the eruption in 1980 due to an avalanche.

Volcanologists have divided the volcano’s activity into four stages: Ape Canyon (275 – 35 thousand years ago), Cougar (28 – 18 thousand years ago), Swift Creek (16 – 12.8 thousand years ago) and Spirit Lake (3.9 thousand years ago – present). Because each stage changes the composition of the volcano, destroying evidence of previous stages in the process, more is known about the more recent stages than the older ones.

Semi-Recent Eruptive Periods

The Sugar Bowl Eruptive Period took place between 850 and 900 and during this time, three lava domes developed on Mount St. Helens’ flanks. Despite these additions, there was no significant change to the volcano’s appearance during this period.

The Kalama Eruptive Period took place between 1479 and 1720 and this period is when Mount St. Helens achieved its pre-1980 height and form as around 1,600 feet of elevation were added to the volcano during this period. In the beginning of this period there were two large and explosive eruptions which took place in the years 1479 and 1482, a rare phenomenon as those dates are very close together. The early part of this period also produced many pyroclastic flows and lahars. The middle phase began around 1510 and during this point there were few lava flows but many pyroclastic flows. The Summit Dome grew during the late phase of the Kalama Period at Mount St. Helens and most likely took around 100 years to be created.

The Goat Rocks Eruptive Period at Mount St. Helens took place from 1800 to 1857 and this is when the Floating Island, a lava flow in 1801, was created. Scientists believe that the last significant eruption during this period (and in fact until 1980) took place in 1857 although there minor explosions in 1898, 1903 and 1921.

1980 Eruption

The eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 is probably the most well-known for this volcano. The first eruption in that group occurred on March 27th and was the first in more than 100 years. Eruptions continued, occurring about once an hour during March and going down to about once a day by the 22nd of April. Eruptions then paused until May 7th at which point small eruptions occurred until the 17th. Mount St. Helens had experienced over 10,000 earthquakes, causing the north flank to grow about 250 feet. This bulge kept growing, indicating a pool of magma that would erupt in the future.

The magnitude 5.1 earthquake mentioned above occurred on May 18th at which point both the summit and the northern bulge became a large landslide. This was in fact the largest avalanche of debris ever recorded in Earth’s history with a total volume of around 3.3 billion cubic yards. The landslide removed the northern flank of Mount St. Helens which in turn triggered a huge lateral blast of hot debris that traveled at around 300 miles per hour. The change in pressure caused a 9 hour long eruption that included a tall eruption column as well as many pyroclastic flows and a great deal of ash fall. The eruption also created lahars (volcanic mudflows) when the snow and ice that had topped the volcano melted and mixed with the volcanic debris.

Mount St. Helens – Future Eruptions

Although this volcano is the most likely one in the Cascades to erupt again within our lifetime, experts do not believe it will be as damaging as the eruption of 1980. They do not think that a lateral blast or such a large avalanche of debris is likely. The main hazards for renewed activity on the volcano are lahars, explosive eruptions causing pyroclastic flows and a continuation of the growth of the lava-dome. Because scientists are not able to predict the next eruption very far in advance, they are keeping close tabs on the volcano using a wide range of geological equipment.


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