2017 was a good year for Mount Rainier visitation, seeing nearly a million and a half visitors. The 1,415,867 who visited this glaciated volcano in 2017 helped give Rainier the highest level of visitation since 1994 and its 19th best year in 113 years. 

Mount Rainier was the 4th of America’s National Parks, created on March 2nd, 1899. Mount Rainier is also the first National Park to be elevated from a National Forest. Since visitation records were first kept in 1904, all the way through 2017, this stunning and iconic mountain that has become the unofficial symbol of Washington State has seen 95,904,668 visitors.

While impressive, Mount Rainier isn’t Washington State’s most-visited National Park. Olympic National Park has had 164,139,958 visitors since records were started in 1935 and saw 3,401,996 people in 2017.

When Mount Rainier National Park first started visitation records, it was mostly empty. In 1904, When Washington State’s population was less than a million, Mount Rainier National Park had just 563 visitors.  Mount Rainier was the first National Park to admit automobiles and also the first park to charge an entrance fee. Visitation jumped from 2,826 in 1908 to 5,968 in 1909. By 1911, Mount Rainier’s visitation had crossed the 10,000 visitors a year mark. In 1923, visitation jumped over 100,000 and by 1947, it had jumped up to half a million. Visitation to Rainier crossed a million in 1958 with 1,115,800 and hasn’t looked back.

Looking at the official stats for Mount Rainier National Park, there are some cool things to be learned. The Nisqually Entrance Station saw the most visitors, at 722,992, which should come as no surprise, as it is the only one open all year. Paradise saw 635,217 people in 2017, showing that almost half of all who visit Mount Rainier go to this region. What shocked the statistics team at TOS was that nearly 30,000 people entered Mount Rainier by bus, helping to alleviate the crowded parking lots and roads.

Without posting too many boring details, here are more 2017 highlights 

  • Recreation Visitation to Mount Rainier was up 4.3% compared to 2016.
  • Nisqually Visitation was actually down 4.3% from 2016
  • Cayuse Pass saw a 13.5% increase in visitation
  • Mowich Lake saw an increase of 20%
  • The Carbon River Entrance saw an increase of 26%
  • Bus Passenger Entry increased 56% from 2016
  • 29,798 people stayed in the Lodges of Mount Rainier National Park
  • 104,121 camped at one of the NPS campgrounds
  • 55,333 backcountry permits were issued, with the majority coming in July and August.
  • July and August were the most popular months for visitation, camping, and overnight stays.

Mount Rainier is a stunning mountain and someplace that we write about often. Whether we created pages for fun facts, list some great family hiking ideas or sell gorgeous calendars of Rainier, the iconic mountain that looms large over most of Washington State’s population is a must-visit destination.

If you haven’t made plans to visit Rainier in 2018, do it!

Skiing after work in Mount Rainier National Park. Image by Ranger Hayley Edmonston

Mount Rainier’s Best Visitation Years

1970- 1,925,100
1962- 1,905,300
1977- 1,819,600
1967- 1,805,900
1965- 1,743,100
1966- 1,722,300
1968- 1,682,700
1969- 1,659,500
1978- 1,606,968
1961- 1,592,800
1991- 1,549,412
1963- 1,544,300
1960- 1,538,700
1992- 1,522,057
1979- 1,516,703
1964- 1,439,900
1995- 1,438,227
1994- 1,426,244
2017- 1,415,867