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MPG V2.8, January 2013

Current Season Conditions and Photo Opportunities
June 2008

The purpose of this Web page is to provide some general seasonal conditions in Mt Rainier NP. It's not meant to necessarily completely accurate or updated, see the other news and access Web pages for that information. It is meant to be a general guide to help you visit to the NP. Much of the information has been gleaned from a variety of sources, often from trip reports, conversations with experienced people, Websites, newsstories, etc.


As you are aware the snowmelt season is still underway, but slower and later than usual, as there is still near or over 8 or more feet of snow at Paradise. There are reports of patches snow on trails down to the 3-4,000 foot elevation, and more so and more continuous at higher elevations. In short, be prepared to cross patches or open snow fields if you plan hikes until the reports indicates trails snow-free. This year this may take until late June into early July at higher elevations.

On the same vein of snow and trails, a good and bad thing about hiking between Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays is bugs. Until the snow melts and temperatures rise bugs will be absent, but once the temperatures get warm for bugs to hatch, then with the more and extensive amount of water the real possibility exists where bugs will be very plentiful later in July and August, until the first significant freezing night temperatures.

This spring the temperatures have been cooler than normal with more rain, including a late spring snow storm. With the remaining snowpack, most of the trails will be cooler and nights colder than normal. So, bring along that extra layer of clothes and extra snacks to help stay warm.

So far as has been reported, the only two roads not completely open are the Paradise Valley Road, the short loop road on the east side of the Paradise visitors center connecting to the Longmire to Stevens Canyon highway, and Sunrise Road past the White River Campground which is cleared daily. The former is scheduled to be open in early July and the latter in mid-late June.

In addition with the snowpack has increased snowmelt runoff in all the rivers draining the basin around Mt. Rainier, such as the Nisqually River, Puyallup River, Cowlitz River. The daily diurnal snowmelt is evident in the graphs of flow. The upper reaches of the rivers and the tributaries to those rivers have more exaggerated diurnal, so care must be take around the upper rivers and especially when crossing tributary creeks.

Photo Oppoortunities

June is an interesting time in Mt. Rainier NP. It's the transistion time from spring to summer where the trees, plants and wildflowers are beginning to come back to life from the winter's snow and cold. Normally, this occurs earlier, usually late Aprilor early May into June, but this year, everything is late. The snow only recently receded from the lower elevations and can still be found in many areas between the 4,000 and 5,000 foot elevation.

The increased snowmelt have increased in the waterfalls in the NP, which should continue well into July as the snowpack melts and the snow level rise in elevation. This affords a lot of excellent opportunities for high flows over even the smallest waterfalls. You can a description of the waterfalls identified in the NP and locate them via a map or list of them.

Lastly, with the unusually high snowpack, it affords the photographer to get some snow scenes when and where this isn't usualy possible without hiking to higher elevations. While the snow and cooler weather is something to account for in your visit and photography in the NP, it also affords you many opportunities we haven't seen since the 1998-99 snow season which has 1,032 inches during the winter, in comparison to this seaason's 947 inches.


If you plan a trip to Mt. Rainer NP in June, it's fair to say for now, to plan for cooler weather and encounter snow on the trails. This means the wildflower season will likely be late this summer, but also with the excess water from snowmelt, if the temperatures stay near normal, the wildflower season may extend into August. We can hope anyway.

You can can get reports for previous months here.

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WSR V2.8, January 2013