Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Architecture of Mt. Rainier National Park

Early photo of Guide Service Building and Paradise Inn

On our recent trip to Mt. Rainier National Park we not only enjoyed the lovely scenery, but also the beautiful rustic architecture of the Lodge and other buildings in the park. 

Upon entering the park, a complex of beautiful log cabin style buildings greet us. These serve as administration offices and housing for the many park personnel. 

This little cabin reminds me so much of the cabin my family enjoyed when I was a child. 

Every summer we spent our vacations at a lovely log cabin in Jackson, New Hampshire

The cabin was owned by my Father's boss, Mr. Butler. We called it 'Butler's Cabin'. Water was pumped from a small mountain stream beside the cabin for washing and showers. Drinking water was obtained from a spring in the center of town. I would go with my Father to the spring every few days to fill up the large glass 'carboy' bottles. There was a small Inn across from the spring and a general store with a gas station. That made up the center of town. In order to get to the town, we had to cross the Jackson Covered Bridge. 

The cabin had a small kitchen section like this one in the photo. Beside the kitchen, the main part of the cabin was one large room overlooking a very large cow pasture along the slopes of Bald Mountain. There were always cows in the pasture separated from us by a large stone wall. Large apple trees dotted the pasture where Delicious Apples ripened on the trees. 

Once, two of my younger sisters and I climbed one of the trees to pick the ripe apples. As soon as the cows realized we were picking apples, they all gathered under the tree waiting for a hand out. That was when we realized we were in trouble. I, being the eldest, thought I could distract them by throwing apples away from the tree so we could jump down and run. But those cows knew we were the ones handing out the apples and they started chasing us. My Father saw what was happening and bravely rescued us from being trampled by yelling and pushing at the cows with a stick. He carried all three of us on his shoulders and in his arms back to safety. 

Never enter a cow pasture and hand out apples! 

Upstairs above the main section was the sleeping loft where my sister's and I slept on three large feather beds with lovely old quilts to keep us warm. There were two small paned windows on either end of the peaked rafters that we could open by pushing out the top. 

It was the loveliest feeling waking up to the quiet sound of birds and mountain breezes. 

Summers at Butler's Cabin influenced my desire to live in the mountains for the rest of my life. For me, mountains are what have always held my heart. 

2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a Depression-era program that was designed to put economically disadvantaged young men from across the United States to work on infrastructure projects, including the construction and repair of trails, roads and campgrounds here at Mount Rainier National Park. 

There were 6 CCC camps within the park boundaries, and a total of almost 1000 enrollees. 
All of the enrollees were young men aged 18-25 and each received full room and board plus $30 per month salary. The $25 automatically sent home to the enrollee's families, stocked many empty pantries. 

These buildings served as bunk houses and administration for the CCC. 

Now they house the many rangers and park employees. 

Constructed with native cedar logs and stone, they were built to last. 

A large complex of housing such as this, sits beyond this point. I can't imagine a more romantic experience than living and working at this beautiful National Park. 

Locally, just over a million recreational visitors to Mount Rainier spent $33 million in communities surrounding the park. This spending supported about 450 jobs in the local area and another 700+, mostly seasonal and concession jobs in the park at peak summer staffing. 

Nationally, $13 billion of direct spending by 279 million park visitors supported 252,000 jobs nationwide and had a $30 billion impact on the entire United States economy. 

With an operating budget of $2.75 billion every $1 provided to the National Parks Service generates $10 of economic benefits. 

The most modern building in the park is the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center, completed in 2008.

Located just before the Paradise Inn, it hosts exhibits, films, guided ranger programs, a bookstore, a snack bar, and a gift shop. 

Named after Senator Henry M. Jackson who was instrumental in developing a program called Mission 66 to dramatically expand park service visitor services. 

Completed in 2008 to replace an outdated design not capable of handling the nearly 100 ft. of annual snowfall every year. 

Modern design solves that problem with a steeply sloped metal roof. 

Overlooking the Tatoosh Mountains on one side and Mt. Rainier on the other, the views are spectacular. 

Inside and out. 

As is the architecture. 

Every time I visit, we stop here to visit the wonderful book store. I have bought excellent nature guides to the flora and fauna of the Cascade Mountains every visit. 

This year I bought the 'revised' edition of Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, a hefty tome that identifies everything from trees to wildflowers, to add to my library.

But the main attraction to the architectural heritage of the park is The Paradise Lodge and Inn

Paradise Inn with 100 rooms

The lodge was built in 1916 at the 5,400 ft. elevation along the south slope of Mt. Rainier,

The 100 room Inn was added in 1920, both
built with native building materials, including cedar shingles, native rock, and weathered timbers salvaged from a forest fire in 1885. 

The main lodge contains a great room with stone fireplaces on either end. 

French doors all around and dormered windows allow mountain breezes. 

I love the colors. 

Large timbers stretch to the ground to help support the building through the heavy snows of winter. 

Here you can see The Mr. hamming it up in front of the woodpile that keeps the fireplaces burning during the chill night air. No doubt reminding him of the 8 cord of wood he has to start splitting for the winter at home. 

Shall we go inside and take a peek? 

Rustic ceilings and hand built furniture. 

A lovely gift shop.

And a scenic deck where we sat and ate an ice cream cone we bought from the concession stand. 

There is also an excellent full service restaurant.

Paradise Inn is open from late May to early October. 

In between the Inn and the Visitor Center is this gambrel roof building, also built in 1920, which houses the guide services. Here is where climbers who wish to ascend the mountain, register and start their journey. 

It also houses dormitories for guide rangers upstairs. 

And here two such rangers cut dashing figures as they head out with their packs. 

Last but not least, this funny little hobbit shack holds critical supplies for the rangers. You can see the door sits high above to be accessed during heavy snowfall. 

Here The Mr. hams it up once again to show perspective. 

Not willing to let him do all the hamming, I stand in front of Mt. Rainier before we leave. 

Every year, approximately 10,000 people attempt to climb Mount Rainier. 

Nearly half reach the 14,410 ft. summit. Many people die trying. 

Our brave rangers and rescue personnel risk their lives every year to help save hikers and climbers in peril. 

Nisqually Glacier

Climbing permits are required for climbing over 10,000 ft. and on glaciers. 

I hope you enjoyed coming along with us to see the many wonders of Mt. Rainier National Park. 

Our National Parks are our nation's treasures. Unless we support and maintain these beautiful wild places for future generations, they could be lost forever. 

Please support funding for our National Parks. 

 We owe it to future generations. 



  1. So beautiful and informative! I love mountain lodges and I have always wanted to stay at one. Have you visited Timberline Lodge? Paradise Inn reminds me it and I think it was built in the depression area as well. And no, they don't build lodges the way they used to. I think it all should be preserved ~ the lodges, the scenery and the jobs too. Hope you are having a lovely day!

    1. Hi Stacy, I have visited Timberline Lodge - it is beautiful! Very similar to Paradise, too. We lived in the Willamette Valley for several years and Mt. Hood was our favorite destination! So glad you stopped by today! Hugs, xo

  2. What a wonderful place love the mountains and all the buildings, seen the wood pile that's the biggest one I have ever seen a cold, cold winter.
    Love the story about the apples and the cows I will take your advise.

  3. so incredibly beautiful! the views, the large, sloping roofs! laughed at your apples vs. cows story. also, never walk your dog on a leash through a cow field. they're so curious!

  4. So very scenic. I love traveling "with" you!

  5. Oh Mrs. Karen, you look so adorable there :)

    I am huge fan of log and stone cabin. these pictures are lovely as well.


  6. My brothers have always wanted to climb Mt. Rainier but that always makes me a bit nervous! I have to say that my favorite building is the Inn! It has such a rustic and warm feeling to it! Thanks for the link to Jackson New Hampshire! I am always looking for places to take the beans and we love cabins coupled with nature!!! And you are so right about supporting our parks! As favors for out wedding we purchased Redwood trees for the Redwood National Park! Great Post Friend...way to educate people!!!

  7. Absolutely stunning - it was like being right there. I love the buildings and the stories about them. And to think - you have such a lovely view of the mountain right from your home.

    I really enjoyed the "trip" to New Hampshire - what a lovely town - and wonderful stories of your trips to the cabin as a child.

    I love the new header - gorgeous photos.

  8. Hello Karen
    Incredibly beautiful log cabin - I ♥ to "walk" this beautiful trip. Wishing you and your a good Wednesday.
    Hugs Hanne Bente ♥

  9. A stunning tour of a place that I really must see one day. I love the thought into the architecture to ensure no collapse happens during heavy snow fall, and the scale of the buildings has been put into perspective by your Mr! I always say it, but you live in such perfect surroundings. Great post and informative xx

  10. Thank you for this beautiful tour! I love the mountains and rustic cabins. Your summers in NH are some great memories. I never knew cows liked apples - that was such a cute story!

  11. This tour made me feel as if I was there. And I certainly hope to be some day. I can't wait to see the winter pictures from here in a few months :)

  12. I'm so ready to go back now. :) Enjoyed reading!!!!

  13. I want to put myself right in the middle of this beautiful park. Your photos are stunning and I really enjoyed your story and your childhood memories.

  14. Beautiful post and photos, Karen! So makes me miss the Pacific Northwest! And I love the colors and photos in your stunning new header. Hope all is well...


  15. Thanks for this wonderful tour of the park! I love the national parks. We have been to so many, I don't know which is my favorite, but the Yellowstone lodge is up there with the ones you showed. Have a great day!

  16. What a fantastic day, Karen! My favorite building is the log cabin - reminiscent of the intrepid souls who ventured west knowing not what lay ahead.

    As for me, I think I would rather stand at the bottom of the mountain and take in its majesty than climb it. You're lucky to get to see it every day! <3

  17. What lovely architecture, inside and out! I really need to come visit your neck of the woods. It all looks so beautiful! I've always wanted to go somewhere with mountains :)

  18. I've been to Mt. Ranier too - years and years ago. I love the field flowers and deer - the views are breathtaking!

  19. Dearest Karen,
    That sure is impressive. Love those buildings from the Depression era, that's a historical lesson to be told over and over again.
    Those steep roofs do make sense for making the snow slide off easier... and that little rescue building with its high entrance is another sign.
    You did not react to my question about encountering a bear or cougar but now I read that it is only accessible to the public for a good 4 months. Sure that also works around the 'dangerous' mating season!
    What a construction under that tall and steep roof! Something to really admire.
    When you mentioned the splitting of such an amount of logs for surviving winter, it made me worry about old age when one lacks the power for such harsh jobs. Well, for the time being; you enjoy your PARADISE. Because that's really what it is!

  20. What a beautiful post, Loved your story of your childhood Butler cabin holiday's... I enjoyed my tour of the park it is breathtaking the photos are stunning... Thanks for sharing...Hugs May x x

  21. Such incredible history and quite fascinating, Karen :) So glad you shared with us. It's so wonderfully beautiful!

    Hugs to you!

  22. Gorgeous! I love log cabins. And how wonderful that it brought back great childhood memories. :)

  23. My oh my -- you captured the place so amazing that it has me wanting to take a get-a-away Mt. Rainier..I giggling over the "cow pasture and hand out apples cow attack" my goodness the things we kids can think of doing --LOL..
    My favorite photo is the very last one -- I like you find the mountain living is where my mind and heart is at peace...
    Thanks for sharing all these photos - I really mean it too!!!


Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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