Located in the southwest corner of the park, Paradise is aptly named and there are few locations within
the entire national park system that are this stunning. Nestled on the south slopes of the glacier-shrouded
volcano at an elevation of 5,400 feet with stunning views of wildflower meadows, Paradise is 19 miles inside
the southwest Nisqually entrance of the park.
Getting here is easy but that was not always the case. Most visitors to Mount Rainier in the early 1900’s
were not content to end their trip at Longmire Springs and wanted to experience the panoramic views and
wildflower meadows that have made Paradise the most popular area in the park. From Longmire Springs
they took the trail built by Leonard Longmire and Henry Carter in 1892, paying a small toll, and proceeded
upwards often stopping at Carter Falls and Narada Falls to rest. In early 1895, a coffee shop called the Paradise
Hotel and a tent camp were established providing services to the ever increasing
numbers of people visiting the area and in 1898; John L.Reese combined the two operations and name it Camp of the Clouds.
Although visitors were generally satisfied with the camp, they wanted nicer accommodations and the demand for better
sanitation increased in 1911, the first full season that it was possible to take horse drawn vehiclesall the way to
the Camp of the Clouds.
As the need increased for a hotel and other services in the Paradise area, a corporation of local Tacoma
businessmen from Tacoma formed the Rainier National Park Company (RNPC) and began construction of the
Paradise Inn. John Reese sold his camp to RNPC in 1916 to house construction crews as they worked on the new first-class Paradise Inn. In spite of the short construction season, the
crew nearly completed the Paradise Inn during the summer of 1916 at an initial cost of $91,000 not including furnishings or equipment. Decorative
woodwork that still exists today was designed by Hans Frahnke, a German carpenter, who stayed in the inn during the winter of 1919. His craftsmanship
includes imposing cedar chairs and tables, a rustic piano, and ornate grandfather clock.
The Paradise Inn was designed by a Tacoma architect and built in the
popular style of the period with the building’s large timber frame exposed
on the interior. The timber used for the interior décor of the building was
cut from dead Alaska cedars that had been fire-killed in the Silver Forest
just below Narada Falls, and had seasoned to a light grey or silver hue.
The trees were hauled by horses to the construction site and raised into
position without the benefit of diesel-powered cranes. The Paradise Inn
opened for business in July 1917 with thirty seven guest rooms and a dining capacity for
four hundred guests.
Platform tent structures were built behind the Inn to house additional guests and meals were announced when the dining room manager blew a
whistle from the back porch. In 1920 with the increased
demand for lodging, RNPC completed their first addition
to Paradise Inn, a 104-room wing they called the annex.
In 1930, the tents surrounding the inn were removed and
RNPC built 275 housekeeping cabins and a central service
building with a cafeteria, camp store, and 40 guest
rooms. The building was called the Paradise Lodge and
opened to the public on June 20, 1931