Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flowers Finally Arrive at Mount Rainier National Park!

Mount Rainier above flower meadows in Yakima Park at Sunrise.
Yes, it's true!  Flowers are finally starting to make an appearance at Rainier, much to the pleasure of photographers who's patience has been tested with the late thaw of 2011.

Sunrise is particularly breathtaking right now, with flowers pretty much at peak.   The same can be said of nearby Skyscraper Pass on the Wonderland Trail and Grand Park (bring your bug spray!).

On the south side of the mountain, flowers around Reflection Lakes are coming along nicely, and will probably peak in the coming week.  Paradise and Mazama Ridge are still sporting much snow, though avalanche and glacier lilies were both on display last weekend, along with patches of western pasque near Myrtle Falls.
Mount Rainier above flower meadows near Skyscraper Pass.
Opinions vary on the flowers show at Paradise and when/if it will happen.  Our warmest days are behind us.  Late August and September bring cool nights, laying the groundwork for the emergence of fall colors.  The last week of August was the popular prediction for flowers in the Paradise area.  While gorgeous displays of lupine can be seen near the parking lot, they are a long way from emerging in the meadows above.  I believe it will be the first week of September for the flowers to show.

My friend and fellow photographer Greg Vaughn recently spoke with Ron Warfield, retired Assistant Chief Naturalist at Mount Rainier National Park.  Ron offered some interesting insights, including his opinion that flowers will not be as prolific this year.   While I tend to agree, I can say that Sunrise surprised me with a very strong showing last week (go now!).

Mount Rainier above Reflection Lakes.
One of the downsides of such a late bloom for photographers is the grass, which has now grown tall enough to compete with the flowers.  This was very noticeable at Sunrise.

If you are planning a visit to Rainier in the coming weeks, plan to arrive early to beat the crowds.  I read reports of the park temporarily denying entrance last weekend due to reaching full capacity.  Definitely plan ahead.

Have flower information on the park that you wish to share?  I would love to hear from you!  Please feel free to add a comment or send me a note.

See you on the trails!

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