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|Mt. Rainier National Park|
Rivers and Creeks
Some of the most beautiful features of Mt. Rainier are its rivers, creeks, and streams. There are some 470 rivers and streams located throughout the park.
Tahoma Creek Many of Mt. Rainier's streams and rivers arise at the terminus of its major glaciers. One such river is Tahoma Creek which can be seen in the southwest corner of the park. It arises from the meltwater of Tahoma Glacier.
The rocky bed of Tahoma Creek can seen below near where it crosses the main park road from the Nisqually entrance to the Longmire area.
Kautz Creek The next river encountered by the large number of visitors who enter the park via the Nisqually entrance is Kautz Creek, shown below in its rock strewn bed.
The creek emanates from the Kautz Glacier on the flank of Mt. Rainier. This river is best known for the spectacular mudflow which occurred here over half a century ago.
On the night of October 2-3, 1947, following a deluge of 6 inches of rain on the mountain in a few hours, 1 mile of ice collapsed from the glacier and discharged a flood of meltwater, rock, and debris which rushed down the stream bed. 48 million cubic yards of earth and rock were moved during several flows. The park road to the Longmire area was buried beneath 20-50 feet of mud.
Although coniferous forested largely covered the mudflow buried areas within 40 years or so after the flood, some of the debris from the 1947 mudflow can still be seen around the riverbed of Kautz Creek. Many rocks along the bed of the river have been placed by mudflows which overflowed the banks of the Nisqually.
Nisqually River Another river which arises from a major glacier on the flanks of Mt. Rainier is Nisqually River.
The Nisqually River is one of the most observed of the rivers in the park becuase it can be seen from a number of places along the Longmire-Paradise access road.
The Nisqually River is formed at the terminus of the Nisqually Glacier. One of the best places to observe the course of the river as it descends from the glacier is from Ricksecker Point along the Longmire to Paradise park road. This view is shown below.
A very different view from the same location is presented in a different season when the weather conditions are dissimilar.
The Nisqually River arises at the terminus of the Nisqually Glacier and is fed from the ice as it melts there.
For potential visitors, ParkVision recommends "Story Behind the Scenery" guides and "Trails Ilustrated" maps.
Inside glaciers, rocks and stones are pulverized. When they melt and give rise to rivers at their terminus, the pulverized rock, known as rock flour, finds its way into the water, giving it a milky color and consistency.
The Nisqually River was named after an Indian tribe which lived in the valley.
Myrtle Creek The park features many small creeks as well, sometimes fed by snowfields or glaciers. Above the Paradise visitor are there is a little creek which runs across the meadow in Paradise Valley. The trail (seen blow) crosses this small stream over a rustic wooden bridge just upstream of the waterfall.
Paradise Creek The Paradise River originates from the snowfields of Paradise Valley on the flank of the mountain. It can be seen below where it runs beneath the main park road.
Paradise Creek can be observed in a number of places in Paradise Valley. Because it arises from a snowfield rather than a glacier it runs clear, not milky, such as the Nisqually River.
Stevens Creek One impressive feature of the southern section of the park is Stevens Canyon, through which Stevens Creek runs. The canyon itself is an example of the great power of glaciers. The canyon was cut through the erosive action of Stevens Creek and widened and deepened by the action of glaciers.
Stevens Creek runs through the large Stevens Canyon, seen below. These features were named after Hayward Stevens, who along with Von Trump mad the first recorded successful ascent of Mt. Rainier. A good view of Mt. Rainier itself as well as the peak known as Little Tahoma can be seen fron the switchback on the road in Stevens Creek Canyon.
A variety of tributaries of Stevens Creek flow down the canyon walls from its rim and feed the creek.
White River Another of the major waterways in Mt. Rainier is White River, which is found in the eastern and northern section of the park. As with other waterways, this river arises from the terminus of the great Emmons Glacier. The White River can be seen below as it flows away from the glacier on the northeastern flank of the mountain.
The waters of the White River, as can be seen below, are somewhat cloudy. This is because of the rock flour they carry from the Emmons Glacier, similar to what is seen in the Nisqually and other rivers which descend from glacial origin.
At one time White River flowed in a northerly direction to the Puget Sound. However, the river jumped to a new channel during a period of flooding in 1906. The river currently flows toward the west and empties into the Puyallup River.
In 1963, rock broke off and feel from Little Tahoma Peak onto Emmons Glacier. The resulting avalanche flowing down this valley reached to within about 1/2 mile of the White River Campground.
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