Northwest slopes of Mount Rainier as viewed from Ptarmigan Ridge. Photo taken over benchmark at 7,802 feet elevation, southwest of Observation Rock, showing a good view of Mount Rainier's summit - Columbia Crest (14,410 feet). North Mowich Glacier is in the foreground.
The flanks of Mount Rainier are drained by five major rivers and their tributaries. Clockwise from the northwest the major rivers are the Carbon, White, Cowlitz, Nisqually, and Puyallup. Each river flows westerly through the Cascade Range and, with the exception of the Cowlitz, empties into Puget Sound near Tacoma, Washington. The Cowltiz joins the Columbia River in the southwestern part of the State to flow to the Pacific Ocean.
In 1833 Dr. William Fraser Tolmie of the Hudson Bay Company, became the first European known to travel into what is now Mount Rainier National Park. While on a botanizing trip, he entered the northwest corner of what is now the present park.