If you use Google Earth, Google's free application, you can say thank you to them for finally updating the satellite images of Mt. Rainier NP. For a long time now they've been using images which were 5-10 years old and long before some significant changes in the visitor facilities in the NP.
For starters the images still had the old Jackson Visitors Center built in the 1960's and replaced with the new one in October 2008. They also had the upper parking lot more dirt than lot and with the Paradise Inn before it was closed, refurbished and reopened two years ago. At last images of what is than what was some years ago.
The current images date from November-December 2011, so it's quite current, even with this last winter's snow. Gotta love that. Thank you Google for updating the images. And by the way, it's a cool app too, but I would add some notes from playing with it.
First, it doesn't like Apple Magic Mouse finger scoll with the sidebar. It literally crashes and bails out without a clue. Use the side scroll (gray) bar to move any window up or down and don't your mouse.
Second, and most importantly since I can't find the contact to send a correction to Google, the Westside Road is misflagged on the satellite image. Just before the Dry Creek trailhead, obvious about 3 miles up from the highway with the cars, shows the road going to the right and following Tahoma Creek.
This is incorrect. Turn off the layer for roads and follow the road past the cars to the Fish Creek crossing where you'll see the road go along the right bank Tahoma Creek crossing and into the woods and back out onto the Tahoma Creek channel to the big u-turn to go up the hill as the Old Puyallup road and where the old Tahoma Creek trail goes northeast along Tahoma Creek to the suspension bridge over Tahoma Creek and up the hill to the Kautz Creek trail.
The Tahoma Creek trail is my favorite as it's the shortest to the Indian Henry's Hunting Ground park via the suspension bridge. But the trail is not maintained. You should ask the status of it at the Longmire office as to its condition as it isn't checked until later in the spring by backcountry rangers for any basic maintenance. The trail isn't kept to normal standards but as an emergeny trail.
I'll play with Google Earth some more and report what I see with this app.