USGS Logo Geological Survey 18th Annual Report (Part II)
Glaciers of Mount Rainier
Rocks of Mount Rainier


Mount Rainier is situated approximately 43 miles southeast of the city of Tacoma and 11 miles west of the crest of the Cascade Mountains. As determined by the United States Geological Survey its highest summit, Crater Peak, is in latitude 46° 51' 04.84" and longitude 121° 45' 28.50", and is 14,526 feet in height.

The country intervening between Puget Sound and the foothills of Mount Rainier is low and for the most part heavily forest covered. From Tacoma, which is at tide level, the whole height of the majestic mountain is in view; that is, the visual height of the peak embraces the entire elevation of its summit above the sea. The appearance of the mountain from near Tacoma is shown in the photograph forming Pl. LXV. Although much of the detail in the sculpturing of the mountain's slopes is lost in this picture, yet it serves to show the isolation of the great peak and the manner in which it towers above all its neighbors. As seen from many points on Puget Sound, even as far north as the Straits of Fuca, the mountain is wonderfully impressive. It rises boldly into the sky as a magnificent snow-clad dome, and appears sufficiently rugged and precipitous to bid defiance to the boldest mountaineer. In fact, its northern side is so precipitous that no ascents have been attempted from that direction.

Mount Rainier

To the east of Mount Rainier, and intervening between its base and the Cascade range, there is a rugged and deeply eroded country, not yet thoroughly explored, in which the highest peaks are, by estimate, between 7,000 and 8,000 feet high. This region, in common with the lower slopes of Mount Rainier and nearly all of the adjacent country, as previously stated, is densely forest covered.

The important place that Mount Rainier occupies in the minds of all who are familiar with the charming scenery of western Washington has created a desire for more detailed information concerning its higher and more inaccessible portions, and particularly in reference to the glaciers visible on its sides from great distances.

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Last Updated: 28-Mar-2006