The Wonderlands of Mount Rainier
Photography by Jeff Goulden
Mount Rainier National Park is much more than just a mountain. It’s a wonderland of sights, sounds and smells which shares a mystery and majesty with all who enter its domain.
The park represents four unique life zones in its 235,000 acres. In addition to the thousands of climbers who attempt the 14,410 foot summit each year a similar number backpack the 97 mile Wonderland Trail. This popular trail encircles the mountain and takes in all four life zones gaining and losing 20,000 feet along the way.
The Transition and Canadian zones are below 5,000 feet and are mainly forested. Here deer, elk and bear seek shelter in addition to many smaller mammals and birds. The babbling streams offer life to the flora and fauna of the woods.
The Hudsonian zone consists of smaller trees and the fragrant sub-alpine meadows. Here, in the short growing season, wildflowers carpet the earth with an abundant array of color.
The Arctic-Alpine zone is unique with its harsh treeless characteristics. A short stretch of the Wonderland Trail passes through this zone. From here the hiker sees the overpowering glaciers extending their arms down the mountainside. This zone speaks of ancient history, eons of glacial carvings and massive rock slides.
The swirling clouds, the penetrating fog, the fragrance of the wildflower meadows, the birds and mammals, the glaciers, the towering firs are all part of the wonderland of sights, sounds and smells that makes up Mount Rainier National Park.
If you are interested in helping to protect and preserve the park, please consider joining Mount Rainier National Park Associates, a non-profit organization formed in 1985 to promote the values and resources of this national treasure. Click HERE for more information.