Mount Rainier National Park


Mt Rainier National Park is in the US state of Washington. It was established in 1899 as the fifth national park in the United States. It covers 236,381 acres (369.35 sq mls; 956.60 km²) including all of Mt Rainier, a 14,411 foot (4,392 m) volcano. Mt Rainier is considered episodically active although it last erupted in the 1890s. The mountain rises abruptly from the surrounding land and is the highest point in the Cascade Range and is part of the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire. Around it are valleys, waterfalls, subalpine meadows, old growth forest and more than 25 glaciers. Paradise is the name given to an area on the mountain’s southern slope. It is said to be the snowiest place on earth where snow is measured regularly. In the winter of 1971/72 1,122 inches (28.5 m) of snow fell.

About 58 percent of the park is covered by forest, mainly consisting of conifers. Some of these trees are 1,000 years or more old. Above the forest line subalpine parkland covers about 23 percent of the park. Here the vegetation is broken up into clumps of trees and areas of herbaceous meadows. In the autumn swathes of huckleberry (blueberry) shrubs provide a colourful red contrast to snow laden trees. Numerous other wildflowers, herbaceous plants, sedges, and grasses abound.

An elevation difference of about 13,000 feet (3962.4 m) creates a variety of habitats allowing for a diverse assortment of invertebrates, mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles. Elk and black bear can be seen over a wide area in the warmer months. Other animals include mountain lion, bobcat, red fox, coyote, raccoon, skunks, weasels and hoary marmots .

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