Mount Rainier National Park has been a pleasant surprise. It is a small national park and is comprised of the peaks, slopes, approaches of Mount Rainier. Rainier is an enormous stratovolcano at 14,400ft, and the park is about 20 miles square. The other nearby mountains are about 6,000ft, so Rainier towers over all of them. There are 30 glaciers on Rainier and many creeks and rivers draining away the melt water.
Rainier is listed as one of the world's ten most dangerous volcanoes because of its activity and the nearby population centers of Seattle and Tacoma. Approximately 5,000 years ago a major ash flow (called a lahar) reached 60 miles to Puget Sound, buried the countryside, caused a tsunami wave, and dropped the peak by about 1,600ft. About 550 years ago a lesser lahar reached about 30 miles.
The national park is a beautiful park with well laid out roads designed to give motorists the best scenic view. It is very mountainous and seems much bigger than 20 miles across because you are constantly driving along the contours of steep mountain slopes and up switchbacks. There are many hiking trails, some advanced with incredible vertical climbs and drops, and some moderate and some easy. We did a couple of easy ones.
Wildflowers are in bloom now and they are everywhere and very pretty. Rainier has many alpine meadows and the park service is very strict that visitors stay on the trails so that the meadow habitats are not damaged. There is a former 200 tent camp site at one of the visitors centers where they have been working for 60 years to restore the alpine meadow vegetation, showing that once it is trampled and gone it doesn't easily come back.
Janet and I rated Mount Rainier as one of the best national Parks that we have seen. It is hard to pick out "the best one" and they are all good, so instead we rate them according to the ones we enjoyed the most. Mt Rainier is up there.