Have you ever admired all of the lovely images of Mount Rainier National Park in books and on calendars and postcards? One of the many joys of having Mount Rainier National Park right in our backyard is that anyone can create his or her own “postcard perfect” photos.
First Light: Sunrise is aptly named, as the view of the rising sun striking the snow-covered peak is a truly awe-inspiring event. The low-angle light illuminates the mountain to create shades of pink, purple, and gold. Bring hot chocolate or coffee, your camera, and a tripod if you are super-serious, and wait. Once you’ve witnessed the sun rise at Sunrise, take a hike on any number of trails that originate in the area.
Wildflowers: Both Sunrise and Paradise provide short, easy hikes right out of the parking lot to view stunning wildflowers. Bring a lens to capture the closeups of bees and butterflies. Watch the Mount Rainier webcams to see what is blooming. visitrainier.com/webcams
Waterfalls: Capture Christine and Narada Falls after a quick and easy walk from paved parking areas — accessible to the whole family.
Lake Reflections: Both Tipsoo and Reflection lakes are famous locations where photographers wait until the wind is still, and the light is right to show a perfect reflection of the mountain in the lakes.
Ancient Trees: Grove of the Patriarchs on the Stevens Canyon side of the park provides a mostly level walk to a grove of ancient, giant cedars, Douglas firs and hemlock trees. There also is a fun suspension bridge to cross.
Hot Springs and Blue: A trip to Ohanapecosh, also accessed from the Stevens Canyon Road, provides a lovely 2.7-mile hike past old hot springs, where you can see steam seeping from the ground, and to Silver Falls, where water crashes down rocks into stunning blue pools.
Bag a Peak: An 8-mile roundtrip hike with only 1,300 feet of elevation gain will bag you a summit and an awesome photo opp! From Sunrise, catch the Wonderland Trail to Skyscraper Ridge. From there, an unsigned but well-worn trail leads up to the summit of Skyscraper Mountain, where you will find a 360-degree panorama view, including Mount Rainier, The Burroughs, and Grand Park.
Experience High Adventure: Summerland to Panhandle Gap is a 12-mile trek up Fryingpan Creek from the White River side of the park. Wildflowers, amazing views, and a shelter await those making the trip to Summerland.
Climbers Camp: Not for the faint of heart or inexperienced, a trek up the Muir snowfields to Camp Muir at 10,000 feet elevation provides epic views of the surrounding mountain ranges, climbers in action, and clouds chasing you up the mountain.
Want an Epic Adventure and Photos?
Hit the 380-foot-tall Comet Falls, accessed by a steep and rugged trail from the Longmire area. Those up for the adventure will be treated to amazing views, refreshing spray, and a rainbow at the bottom of the falls; there are two smaller falls on the way up the trail. Continue above Comet Falls to Van Trump Park to view Glacier and Avalanche lilies bursting out of the melting snow, while admiring gorgeous green meadows and views of the South Cascade mountain peaks.
Roll down your windows and sink into the melodies of these road-trip-worthy tunes.