|About the Site|
|Mt. Rainier National Park|
Historically, the most popular destination for visitors is the Paradise Valley area where the Paradise Inn, Jackson Visitor Center, and other visitor amenities are located. This area also provide some of the most breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier and other mountains in the park which are accessible even for the casual visitor.
Paradise Valley is located at an altitude of 5557 feet. On the flanks of the mountain, the lower sections are blanketed by dense forests, but at about 5000 feet these give way to open meadows known as "parks." The name "Paradise" derives from a comment about the beauty of the area made by Martha Longmire in 1885. But it is consistent with the name Indians had for the area--Saghalie Illahe, "heavenly place" or "land of peace."
Paradise is also known for the great quantities of snow which accumulate in the winter, as it lies in an especially favorable location for snow. In fact, the heaviest snows fall on the mountain below the timber line at approximately 7000 feet.
In a typical year 51 feet or 600 inches of snow will accumulate in the area. The world's record for snowfall was set here in the winter of 1971-1972--93.5 feet (1,122 inches). 100 to 140 inches of precipitation fall per year on the Paradise area. A typical winter scene in the Paradise Valley is shown below.
The snow is so deep in Paradise Valley that some snow may remain on the grown well into the summer months in various places around the valley.
The Paradise area also features many subalpine fir trees, whose shapes afford the ability to shed the heavy snows which occur there.
There are a number of buildings located in the Paradise area which provide a number of services for tourists. Incuded among these are the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center and Paradise Inn, which are covered in more detail below. Also found in the area is the Paradise Guide Hut, shown below. This building, which serves as the headquarters for the park's climbing services, was originally built in 1920 or 1922. It is 4 stories in height and measures 75 by 32 feet.
At one time there were many less "nature oriented" attractions in Paradise Valley. From 1898 to 1915 a tent camping business known as the "Camp of the Clouds" existed in the valley. Winter sports faciltities in the valley were built and used in the 1930's. In 1931 Paradise Golf Course, which was later abandoned, was built. The Paradise area also for some time included a stables. The southern section of the Paradise area, which inlude the Guide Hut and visitor center, is seen from the porch of Paradise Inn below.
Ideas about preserving the national resources of the park have changed a great deal over the years. At one time Paradise Valley, which has always been a major tourist destination in the park, featured both a 9 hole golf course and a motorcycle hill climb. However, except for the cluster of visitor buildings in the area is now free of commercial and man made objects.
Much of Paradise Valley provides spectacular views of the Tatoosh Range, which lay to the south.
The Paradise Valley is rightfully known for the spectacular display of a wide variety of wildflowers which can be observed there during the short summer season. Some 40 species of flowers may be observed there.
However, the meadow where many of these flowers can be seen was damaged by an early collection of tents known as the "Camp of Clouds", which existed there in the years 1898-1915.
For potential visitors, ParkVision recommends "Story Behind the Scenery" guides and "Trails Ilustrated" maps.
Trees punctuate the meadows in the Paradise area. Subalpine firs can be found in the Paradise area. The slender, spire-like shape of this tree, and its short flexible limbs, allow the trees to shed the amazing amount of snow which covers the Paradise area in the winter.
The Paradise area serves as the jumping off point for a variety of hikes, including the climb to the summit of Mt. Rainier. There are also a group of trails which provide views of the mountain and the meadows in the valley.
A paved trail crosses Edith Creek just above the hotel area.
This trail also provides a view of the Tatoosh range. This paved footpath provides an easy hiking experience but also provides protection for the delicate vegetation in the meadows of Paradise Valley.
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