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National Park Mystery Photo 54 Revealed: A Heavenly Place To Stay

The Paradise Inn. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Mystery Photo 54 shows the Paradise Inn in Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park.

The photo was taken from one of the inn’s rooms before the structure was renovated. In the background you can see Mount Rainier in all its glory. The gargantuan heap of snow removed from the building's roof serves to remind us that the Paradise area of Mount Rainier is the snowiest place in the United States and reportedly the snowiest place on earth where snowfall is regularly measured. (The winter of 1971-1972 yielded 93.5 feet of snow, and no winter on record produced less than 26 feet.)

Constructed in 1916-1917, and long considered one of the most stately of the national park lodges, the Paradise Inn was closed for renovation after the 2005 season. The $22.5 million project provided many upgrades for the venerable structure, but none more important than those correcting structural problems that could have resulted in catastrophic failure in the event of an earthquake or fire. The building’s timber-frame construction had been deformed from years of heavy snow loads, the stone fireplaces and a stone wall were unstable, and the stone rubble foundation provided inadequate support. Mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection system components had to be replaced, and the inn had to be made wheelchair-accessible.

With its makeover completed, the inn reopened in 2008 and is good to go for many more decades.

Congratulations to celbert, who was the only Traveler reader who ID-ed the photo. Celbert is eligible for our monthly prize drawing and a chance to win a signed copy of Stephen R. Brown's beautiful photo book, the Jewel of the Mall: The World War II Memorial.


Since Professor Bob is such a stickler for accuracy, I feel I must point out that the pile of snow in the center foreground is not a "snowdrift", but an artifact of hand-shoveling the roof and bulldozing the snow away from the perimeter to minimize snowpack damage to the Inn.

[Thanks for the clarification, tahoma; I've corrected the text. RLJ]

The amount of snow up there really is amazing. I was up there this time last year (which is why the photo seemed familiar to me and led to me guessing correctly, btw) and took the two short trails near the Inn: Nisqually Vista Trail and Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls. Both walks involved walking over a considerable amount of snow -- in August! In fact, I would estimate over 50% of Nisqually Vista was still covered by deep snow. Of course, I'm in shorts, tee shirt and tennis shoes -- a chilly and treacherous experience, to say the least!

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