Monday, August 13, 2012

Flowers at Mount Rainier 2012!

Mount Rainer above flowers on Mazama Ridge before sunrise.
For the second year in a row we can throw all flower rules in relation to the calendar out the window!   Here it is August 13th, the period that flowers would be at peak or even slightly winding down on a normal year, and they have only just begun.

I've spent the last week extensively traveling through the park and thought I would post my findings.

One of the earliest flower shows in the park takes place in Yakima Meadows at Sunrise.  Still true to form this year, the flowers there have reached peak and are on their way out.  However, hiking destinations from there still have a lot to offer.  Summerland is a sure bet with flowers just below looking prime.  They will surely be in their prime at the campground in the next week or two.
Mount Rainier above meadows on along The
Lakes Trail.
Upper Berkeley Park is currently sporting a nice display of flowers, as is Grand Park.  Skyscraper Pass will be a sure bet in the next week or so.

Spray Park is almost melted out and the incredible display of avalanche lilies it was showcasing are on their way out.  This should pave the way for the lupine, paintbrush and asters in the coming week.  Some can be seen now.

Indian Henry's was is still under patchy snow.  Flowers here will be at least  a couple of weeks away.

What does that leave for the wildflower officianados?  Why, Paradise and Mazama Ridge of course!  Lupine is in grand display right now near the Paradise parking lot, but not much higher.  The short stroll to Edith Creek will leave you disapointed.  Give this area at least another week or so.

Mazama Ridge is also well behind schedule.  The Lakes Trail near the Skyline Trail junction is still 20-25% snow covered.  Avalanche lilies are numerous, though they are on their way out.  There are a few patches of meadow sporting lupine, lousewort, paintbrush, aster and more, but they are few.  One would expect blankets of these flowers in a normal year.  But this year " Abby somebody.  Abby Normal  I believe."  (for you Mel Brooks fans out there).

Mount Rainire reflected in a melt pool on
Mazama Ridge.
Venturing higher up the Skyline Trail and on to the Paradise Glacier Trail, one runs into some supreme meadows.  These flowers are at their prime right now and demand your attention.  Wow!

Of course, there are other compositions you can take advantage of right now too as a photographer.  Melt ponds are numerous and offer a unique chance to capture a reflection of the mountain that will be short-lived.

Mount Rainier always has something to offer visitors and photographers, and now is no exception.  Go!

Interestingly, bugs have not been a problem during my visits to these many meadows (though they were ferocious in the forest along Frying Pan Creek).  Spray Park would be the exception (shocking, huh?).

The last thing worth mentioning is the haze in the air from the Siberian fires.  It was extensive last weekend on the Paradise side.  I received reports of even worse conditions on the NW side; primarily Spray Park, where Rainier was hard to distinguish at times.

I hope the sharing of my observations, and the reports of friends and colleagues helps.  As always, feel free to drop me a line with any questions you may have.  I am always happy to respond.

See you on the trails!


  1. [Amazing pictures! I wish I would have them on my portal]

  2. Thanks for posting this, Don! I was just about to send you an email asking for a report if you'd been up there recently. Great photos, too!

  3. Always happy to help, Greg! I will probably be up there again this weekend too, though I haven't decided where specifically yet.

  4. For those who enjoyed photographing the classic view of Rainier and Reflection Lakes, you should be aware that the NPS, for reasons which probably make a lot of sense to some people who aren't photographers, has elected to build a wall of boulders between the road and the lakes all the way to the east of the parking area. Not only does this mean having to find a composition that goes over the boulders, but this "improvement" has paved over much of what had been foreground wildflowers, replacing them with an angled asphalt strip. Sadly, some of the best views in that area are now gone -- I hope all of you got all the photos you wanted there (unfortunately, I didn't), because they're now gone forever.

  5. Thanks for the report James. I was pretty discouraged to see all the construction along the lakes, with red markers placed all along the side of the road next to the lakes. I assumed it to be road repair. I did not realize they were making changes to the area.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.