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Local History and Description
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the highest mountain in the Cascades, with a summit that reaches 14,410 feet above sea level
Like many other mountains in the Cascades, Rainier is a stratovolcano, meaning it it is composed of many layers of lava. Although it was formed before the last Ice Age, Rainier still rumbles on occasion, and it is considered by geologists to be the most potentially dangerous volcano in the Cascades.
Mount Rainier has the largest single-peak glacier system in the United States outside Alaska. A total of 41 glaciers cap the peak and extend down the slopes. The treeline extends up the slopes to about 6,500 feet, and the region's heavy annual precipitation supports the growth of Douglas fir, western hemlock, Sitka spruce and western red cedar, as well as a wide variety of wildflowers. Diverse wildlife includes mountain lion, bobcat, elk, bear, deer and mountain goat.
Mount Rainier was named in 1792 by English explorer George Vancouver after a British Admiral. Hazard Stevens and P.B. Van Trump were the first to climb to its summit, in 1870. Mount Rainier National Park, which encompasses 235,404 acres, was established in 1889.
This page was last updated on January 19, 2017.