Washington (4,392 m) – Tallest Mountain in the Continental United States
Mount Rainier in Washington State is the largest active volcano as well as the tallest mountain in the continental United States. It is one of the sixteen “Decade” volcanoes, the list of the world’s potentially most destructive volcanoes due to a number of geographic factors as well as to its proximity to heavily populated areas. Although quiet for the last century, Mount Rainier was active in the 1800s with at least one major eruption in the first half of the 19th century.
Rainier has been known to Native American people since very ancient times, but was first spotted by European explorers in 1792. First scaled in 1870, the most famous climb of Rainier took place eight years later by John Muir, who was so instrumental to the establishment of the National Parks system. The volcano and surrounding area was designated as America’s fifth national park in 1899.
Although not currently active, Rainier could potentially erupt at any time. This, combined with steep slopes and an immense glacier that covers its peak, makes it one of the most difficult and dangerous major mountains to climb in the U.S. Nevertheless the surrounding park is a very popular vacation destination. It is easily accessible, the mountain being approximately thirty miles from Tacoma and sixty miles southeast of Seattle.