Saturday, October 13, 2018

Mount Rainier NP in Fall

Mount Rainier National Park has always been a favorite fall color destination for me, offering a smorgasbord of reds, yellows and oranges any given year.  But this year there were some concerns about how these colors might unfold due to the hot, dry summer.  Typically such conditions stress the plants and do not result in the best autumn show.

Well, all worries went out the window around the last week of September when the colors  began to pop!

The most popular destination for fall colors in the park is Paradise Park above the Paradise Visitor Center.  Here the intense colors start at the parking lot and continue up several hundred feet through the meadows.  Hikers can walk the paved trails to Edith Creek, Nisqually Vista or Alta Vista - or all the above!

The wanderings can be endless and slow going during peak season as around every corner a different array of color combinations present themselves.

As you wander, keep your eyes open for wildlife. Chipmunks, marmots and pikas are numerous and will typically announce your presence. Deer are a common sight as well. Also, it is not uncommon to see black bear in the bushes feasting on the huckleberries as they try to fatten up for their winter slumber (always keep a safe distance away).

There are other nearby places for the casual visitor to enjoy fall colors as well, and with less crowds.  The Lakes Trail provides a beautiful hike through red foliage while visiting several small tarns.  Most of the colors are lower down near Reflection Lake, not on Mazama Ridge.

The trail to Bench Lake is another excellent area to enjoy the colors and views of the mountain.  Colors are reached just a short distance from the trailhead in wide open meadows.

Further away, Tipsoo Lake is also a splendid area to enjoy roadside fall colors.  Short hikes in the area offer further explorations.

Fall is probably my favorite season to be in the outdoors.  While the days can be warm, the nights can be crisp (as can early mornings and late evenings).  Be sure to have warm clothes with you!

All the images accompanying this story were taken this year - about 2 weeks prior to this writing, in fact.  To see more of these images, as well as images of the other areas I have mentioned, visit my Mount Rainier Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking!  Hope to see you on the trail!

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