All About the Wildlife in Mount Rainier

Updated: Dec 10, 2023 | Written by Jamie H

 

Mount Rainier National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, making it a fantastic destination for nature enthusiasts and wildlife watchers.

Here are five common and interesting wildlife creatures that can be found in the park, along with answers to questions you may have about animals in Mount Rainier. 

American Black Bear

black bear in mount rainier, wa

These bears are a common sight in Mount Rainier National Park. Although primarily black in color, they can also have brown or cinnamon fur.

Black bears are generally shy and avoid humans, but visitors are advised to store food properly and maintain a respectful distance.

Roosevelt Elk

roosevelt elk in mount rainier

Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, these large elk are one of the largest subspecies of elk in North America. They are often seen in the park’s meadows and lower forested areas. During the fall, visitors might hear the distinctive bugling of the males during the mating season.

Mountain Goat

Source: Adventures NW

These sure-footed animals are often spotted on the rocky ridges and cliff faces of Mount Rainier.

Their white fur and impressive horns make them a striking sight against the rugged terrain.

Pika

Pika in mount rainier

Source: NPS

These small, mountain-dwelling mammals are related to rabbits and hares. Pikas are often heard before they are seen, as they emit a distinctive, high-pitched call.

They are commonly found in rocky areas at higher elevations in the park.

Hoary Marmot

Often referred to as the “whistling pig” due to their loud warning calls, hoary marmots are large ground squirrels that live in alpine and subalpine environments.

They are social animals and are often seen sunning themselves on rocks during the warmer months.

Final Thoughts

These animals, along with the stunning natural scenery, make Mount Rainier National Park a must-visit destination for those interested in wildlife and the outdoors.

Remember to observe wildlife from a safe distance and follow park guidelines to protect both yourself and the animals.

Mount Rainier Wildlife FAQ

Mount Rainier National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including American black bears, Roosevelt elk, mountain goats, pikas, hoary marmots, and various bird species. The specific animals you may encounter depend on the location and season of your visit.

Black bears live in Mount Rainier National Park. If you encounter a bear, remain calm, make yourself look as large as possible, and slowly back away. Never approach, feed, or run from a bear. Always store food properly and dispose of waste in bear-proof containers.

Approaching or feeding wildlife is unsafe and illegal in national parks. Always observe animals from a safe distance (at least 100 yards for bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards for other wildlife). Disturbing wildlife can be harmful to both the animals and humans.

Pets are allowed in Mount Rainier National Park only in certain areas, mainly in developed areas, on paved roads, and in campgrounds. Pets must be on a leash at all times. They are not permitted on trails, in wilderness areas, or in any body of water due to the potential impact on wildlife and sensitive environments.

If you encounter a mountain goat, keep your distance, at least 50 yards. Do not feed them or attempt to approach them. If a mountain goat approaches you, slowly move away to maintain a safe distance.

Mount Rainier National Park is home to several species that are considered sensitive, threatened, or endangered, including the Northern Spotted Owl. The park’s diverse ecosystems support a variety of species, some of which are under conservation management.

Wildlife viewing opportunities vary throughout the year. Spring and summer are great times to see young animals and birds. Elk are commonly spotted in the fall during the mating season, and many animals are more visible as they prepare for winter.

Use binoculars or a zoom lens for a close-up view without approaching the animals. Stay on designated trails and respect the natural habitats of wildlife. Be quiet and patient, as animals are more likely to appear if you are still and silent.