Mountain Throwdown - Mt. Rainier vs Denali

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The Challengers

Recently, Mt. Rainier was being touted as the greatest place on earth to take children if they wanted to get up and close to nature. I could point out that the originator of that statement may not have been fortunate enough to enjoy the splendor of the majestic mountain that is Denali, but I won’t. Instead, I will merely highlight some of the properties that distinguish Denali, and make all other mountains on the North American continent, mere hills in comparison.

What Makes Denali So Great?

Denali is undeniably the tallest mountain on the North American continent, standing at 20,320 feet above sea level and surrounded by six million adoring acres of national park. By comparison, Mt. Rainier is an underweight weakling at 14,410 feet and reigning over a puny 235,625 acres (in some parts of the world that would just be considered a nice yard).

Mt. Rainier may attract 1.5 million visitors a year compared to Denali’s average 400,000 plus admirers, but who would want to rub elbows with that many sweaty, smelly, annoying hikers? I would rather wander around for days and never encounter another soul in my quest for peace and tranquility while communing with Mother Nature and all the beasts of the land.

While enjoying the solitude, there are 169 varieties of birds to be on the lookout for at Denali, whereas Mt. Rainer supports 159 bird species. Then there are the rivers of ice to explore; Mt. Rainier’s chilly slopes hosts a paltry 26 named glaciers, 14 less than Denali’s 40 named ice sheets.

Denali vs Mt. Rainier

 
 
 
 
 
Denali
Mt. Rainer
A difference of:
Park Size
6,000,000 acres
235,625 acres
5764375
Height
20,320 feet
14,410 feet
5910
Ranking
1st
17th
16
Birds
169 varieties
159 varieties
10
Mammals
39 species
63 species
-24
Fish
14 species
18 species
-4
Plants
650 types
800 types
-150
Glaciers
40 named
26 named
14
YR 2011 Visitors
406,581
1,495,608
-1,089,027
How the Mountains Stack Up
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Denali - A Hiker's Wonderland

Denali National Park offers a plethora of trail choices. The ADA accessible trails feature six foot wide trails that are either paved or compacted gravel and have a grade of 5 – 10% with the longest trail being the 1.6 mile McKinley Station Trail. With a few exceptions, trails in Denali are generally considered easy to moderate in difficulty.

For those hikers looking for something a little more challenging, Denali National Park (nearly the size of Massachusetts) is almost completely lacking man-made trails outside of the 3 mile radius of the Visitor’s Center. The idea of hiking in complete wilderness, with no trail to follow, excites some hikers while confuses or intimidates other less confident hikers. However, the makeup of Denali's Park Road and bus system, and the terrain itself, can make trail-less hiking more amicable than it may seem at first blush.

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Mt. Rainier Hiking Trails

For a very thorough review of the trail system at Mt. Rainier, please visit "Five Great Hikes for Kids at Mount Rainier National Park" by billybuc. In his review, he will no doubt describe trails and scenery that will make mere mortals fall to their knees in teary eyed awe of the grandeur created just for them by eons of magnificent sculpting courtesy of the elements; wind, water, gravity, ice, etc.

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The Final Talley

While attempting to assert the champion between two glorious mountains, it became evident that there can be no clear winner. Judging a mountain more or less than any other mountain is much like comparing a person’s home to any other person’s home; each one is distinctive to the person living in it. A mountain means much more to each person visiting it or living in its shadow than just a huge pile of rocks, dirt, and vegetation. Mountains leave a lasting and unique impression on the heart and soul of the visitor witnessing their greatness. “Come live with me, and be my love, And we will all the pleasures prove, That valleys, groves, hills, and fields, Woods, or steepy mountains yields.” - Christopher Marlowe

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Comments 54 comments

TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, Julie, I appreciate that! :) Stop by and say HI to billybuc if you go. :) VUMS = Voted Up, More and Shared.


Julie DeNeen profile image

Julie DeNeen 4 years ago from Clinton CT

Well since I never been to either, I think a trip to Washington is in order. Great hub and very nicely laid out too! VUM (whatever that means- I never did get the acronym) :) LOL !!!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

No worries, brave, and thanks!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

Yeah, piss off was the wrong phrase. Nice hub, nevertheless!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, brave. I wasn't trying to piss him off, just goad him a little. :) He's always picking on Alaska in his hubs so I had to show a little home state patriotism, ya know what I mean? :)


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

T, this was spendid and so indicative of your sarcastic humor! While informative, the entire time I was reading, I was thinking, "oh she's really trying to piss Bill off"! I was right. He snagged you!

You have a unique style that speaks volumes of your multi-faceted personality. I always look forward to what you have to say.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Heya, Aubrey! Thank you very much! :) Hope you get to enjoy one or both of these mountains some day. :)


CrazedNovelist profile image

CrazedNovelist 4 years ago from Hampton, GA

It's always a pleasure Terrye! ;) I love the chart, the pictures, and the compare and contrast of the two mountain peaks. Absolutely useful to those who enjoy hiking and other mountain related activities.

-Aubrey


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, Docmo, glad you enjoyed it. :) I've been trying to challenge myself to get to your level. :)


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Heya, Spy! Thank you so much! I hope you make it to both places and get to see them first hand! :)


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

TT- this is a slam dunk for Denali. You make such a robust case it is hard to argue. I'd rather visit somewhere so magnificent and more importantly less crowded and serene. Wonderful hub rich with details, statistics and to top it all a Christopher Marlowe quote. I'm impressed.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Oh TT! Amazing view! and i love the hub of billy too. How I wish I could travel and see this whole beautiful place!

all my votes here TT :)


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

teaches - that's where my happy butt is parked right now - Montana. :) If hubby had his way, he'd have the truck packed and ready to head back to Alaska by the time I got finished writing this sentence. :) You'll have to stop by and see Bill and then swing up to Alaska. :)


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Wish I could visit there some day. Beautiful scenery and so majestic. The closest I've been to this place is Big Sky, Montana where it's no longer man's country.. .only God's.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Hey there, CWB! :) My vote is for the high adventure on Loch Ness! :)


Civil War Bob profile image

Civil War Bob 4 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

Great hub, TT...voted UFBI. So, where's Gollum? Do we mount an expedition to find him with the money I've got left over from my Treasure Island sortie? The other summer option is hunting for Nessie... ;)


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thanks, lilyfly, no worries.


lilyfly profile image

lilyfly 4 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

Don't listen to any sissy baby whiners. Denali rules. lily


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Hiya, wilderness! :) I've been to Talkeetna (jumping off point for climber) when it was in the low 80s and the mountain was still below freezing. It creates it's own weather, which happens to be cloudy most of the time. I used to think the clouds just got stuck on it cuz it was so big. :) I don't think you will be disappointed if you ever get the chance to visit. :)


wilderness profile image

wilderness 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

I would love to visit Alaska one day and if I do Denali will certainly be on the list.

In the meantime I will just have to be content with Mt. Hood at a mere 11,000 feet. On the plus side, it's warm when I come down from the mountain - from Denali I must travel hundreds of miles south to find reasonable temperatures once more.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Hey there, Frank! I used to be afraid of heights, until I was forced to repel down a mountain side (not Denali, but it sure felt like it). Thank you, I guess my comedy routine is something I should stick with. :) I appreciate that very much. :)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

TTombs I am afraid of heights.. got little dizzy just reading this hub.. LOL kidding girl I am enjoyying your hubs of late thought you ought to know that :) Frank


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, tobusiness! Glad you enjoyed it and I agree; if anyone has a chance, both places should be visited and enjoyed!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Hiya, Phil! I'm sure after a day or two, they would forget about all the extras of civilization. One grizzly bear sighting (and they happen a lot there) would make them forget about theme parks. Thank you for stopping by and giving this a read. :)


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Hiya, Jools! I'm afraid that loo is a non-flush "outhouse." :) LOL @ breaking wind. :) Thank you for the laugh!!! :)


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, kingmaxler! :) I think every mountain is special in it's own rights. Hard to pick a favorite. :)


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Mhatter; did you have to get rescued from the Grand Canyon? :)


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

A brilliant informative hub, both places seem magical and should be on a lot of bucket lists, but I must confess, I'm drawn to the idea of splendid isolation and tranquility. Beautiful images. voted up


Phil Riddel profile image

Phil Riddel 4 years ago from Scotland

Excellent hub: you've pretty much convinced me, a neutral, that Denali is best, but no doubt the Rainier supporters will have something to say about this. I would love to visit the area, if I can convince the wife & kids that a few weeks out in the wilderness, away from theme parks, water parks and shopping malls would do them good.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Great hub - I have visted neither of these places. Hubby and I have decided that we will do the mountains and parks of the USA sometime in the future so this has come in useful. Does that loo have a flush and can it be heard echoing off the rocks and crags? Yes? Best not break wind in there then :o)


kingmaxler profile image

kingmaxler 4 years ago from Olympia, Washington USA

Well done. You have made a great case for Denali. I also would forego the crowds if possible. My heart is with Rainier since it is in my backyard.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Water is a precious commodity in the Grand Canyon,especially on the hike out. It is uphill all the way. alcohol accelerates the body's discharge of water, drying you out faster, not to mention tiring you out. how do I know this? :))...


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Oh, Mhatter, do tell! :)


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

lol @ fpherj! I believe there's a blank check waiting for you in your check book. Fill it out with any number you see fit and then sign it. :) You are a great humanitarian. :) How's that? :)


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this great and information packed (not backpacked) tour. I was a hiker who learned why one doesn't bring alcohol to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Ahhhh....just a kind word will do....adorned by a blank check.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

LOL @ fpher! :) We might have to supply him with a wheelchair in case he gets tired out easily. And, I heard he cries, too. Guess I won't be playing to win, I hate to see an old man cry. :)

So, what is the going price for "rewarding" a ref for a 'job well done?' :)


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

TToombs.......Looks like the competition is on.....must I volunteer to be a ref? be careful, GF....I hear bill fights nasty. I have no alliegances and I CAN be paid off........good luck, you GO, girl!!

Thus far, you have my vote....shhhh....He admits to being a crier! I hate to see the tears!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Hey there, Suzie! :) They are rather wee hills, aren't they?! :) LOL! Thank you so much for sharing my quaint tale of 2 mountains. :)

I received an edit back for chapter 1 and have been working on that. :) Anxious? :)


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Both look and sound worthy of a visit TT - Congrats on an interesting comparison of two awesome wee hills!!! lol Voted up and more, sharing with the masses! Hows next part of our story coming along?????


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Hiya, Kelley! Wow...I wouldn't wish 103 degrees on anyone. Yuck! Glad you enjoyed and hopefully it provided a short respite for your furnace! Sending you cooler thoughts! :)


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, Joyce! Always happy to share something as beautiful as Denali. :)


writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

Wonderful hub with great information for us to read and your photos are beautiful.

Voted up, interesting and beautiful, Joyce.


kelleyward 4 years ago

Wow this looks amazing! Especially now here in OK it is 103 degrees. I can't wait to take my boys there in a few years. Beautiful pictures and I also enjoyed the table. Voted up and shared. Take care, Kelley


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Hi InglenookObserver: I agree, they are both absolutely wonderful and worth a visit to be explored and cherished. Thank you for reading. :)


InglenookObserver profile image

InglenookObserver 4 years ago from Southwestern Wisconsin

We can certainly say these are two extraordinary places, worth preserving for the next generation. You make a serious case for competitions, but I value and respect them both.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, bdegiulio! :) Glad you liked and and appreciate the share!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Hey Josh: Yep, it's THAT big. On a clear day, you can see it as far away as the Kenai Peninsula. Thank you for the critique and glad you enjoyed it. :) Appreciate it.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Looks like you just might have to give in and drag them to Alaska, Deborah. :) I'm sure they will LOVE it. :)


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Bill...Bill...Bill....*shaking head* When will you admit you are just not half the yoga practicing man you used to be? :) I don't need any "assistance" in the chemical department to see which mountain is the best. :)


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

TT, love this one. I've been to both and they have both left a lasting impression. I love the isolation and remoteness of Denali. Rainier just reaches out and touches you from everywhere in Washington. Would return to both in a heartbeat. Voted up and shared.


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Great review TT! I loved the pictures, your style of presentation, all of it! I think you mentioned a great point when you stated the lack of man- made trails in mt Denali. I love that kind of hiking, because it seems more adventurous. I also appreciated your detailed chart, it helped you to able to see the differences. I also had no idea the mountain was that tall! Sheesh! The quoted by Marlowe was also an excellent touch, great job altogether! Voted up and across the board, and sharing with followers!


Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

this looks like an awesome placed to visit.. My sons would love this.. You keep posting all the things my sons love to do.. LOl. We love to camp and climb and ski and you name it.

Great hub..

sharing

Debbie


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Oh, I am pretty damn sure there will be a rebuttal to this misguided piece of writing! :) I'll give you this: even though you are delusional you are loyal and I will always applaud loyalty. However, we really need to see about getting you some help soon; you are obviously smoking too much of that Montana Magic Weed!

LOL....great opening salvo!

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