Longmire is the second-most visited area in Mount Rainier National Park after Paradise. Travelers enjoy a stop at the Longmire Museum and Visitor Center, grabbing provisions at the general store, walking along the interpretive Trail of the Shadows, or simply relaxing and enjoying the views of Mount Rainier from the long porch of the 25-room National Park Inn. Wilderness and climbing permits can also be obtained at the Longmire Wilderness Information Center.
Venturing from Ashford to ascend Mount Rainier in 1883, northwest pioneer James Longmire discovered a small collection of mineral springs at the base of the mountain's southwest side. At the age of 63, James Longmire successfully reached the summit of the giant stratovolcano, and in the same year he decided his new calling and opportunity for prosperity lay with the hot springs. After clearing a 13-mile wagon road from Ashford, Longmire and his family opened the Longmire Medical Springs Resort in 1890 and laid the groundwork for the area's further development. In 1899, Mount Rainier became the nation's fifth national park.
In 1906, nine years after Longmire's death, the resort consisted of a full encampment of cabins, tents, and a five-bedroom hotel, with a total capacity of 30 rooms for seasonal guests. That same year, the Tacoma and Eastern Railroad built a competing, more refined, and much larger hotel across the meadow to service the growing number of visitors to the national park. The new, three-story hotel could accommodate 60 guests and would become the first National Park Inn.
In 1915, Elcaine Longmire (James' eldest son) passed away, and the Longmire family decided to lease the hot springs resort to the newly formed Longmire Springs Hotel Company. The company immediately added a 17-room hotel and 16 additional cabins in 1916. At the same time, Steven Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, had created the Rainier National Park Company and began construction of an even grander lodge at Paradise. Not surprisingly, Mather also concluded that it wasn't in the park's interest to have competing concessioners, and by 1919 he had purchased all of the buildings owned by the Longmire Springs Hotel Company along with its 20-year lease on the land. One year later, the company moved the 17-room hotel next to the National Park Inn and called it the National Park Inn Annex, and at the same time it demolished Longmire's original 5-room hotel in order to "clean up" the area.
Between the completion of Paradise Inn and a study that showed that the springs actually held no medicinal value, Longmire slowly lost its place with tourists as Mount Rainier National Park's most popular destination. The National Park Inn burned to the ground in 1926 and was not reconstructed. Instead, the smaller, two-story Annex became the new National Park Inn that still stands today.
In 1991, Longmire's 58 buildings and structures were listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are a part of the Mount Rainier National Historic Landmark District. Notable buildings and their construction dates include:
Note: National Park Inn is open year-round. Reservations for the inn can be made by calling 360.569.2275 or booking online via Mount Rainier Guest Services.