Mount Rainier National Park News
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MPG V2.8, January 2013

Current Season Conditions and Photo Opportunities
August 2008

The purpose of this Web page is to provide some general monthly and 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.


Finally, late July the snowpack cleared in the areas below 5,000 feet elevation and the wildflowers are starting to bloom. This means for the early weeks in August should be the best time to photograph in some of the known areas, such as Paradise. The snowpack still persists in areas near and above 6,000 feet, such as Spray Park, so those wildflowers will likely bloom later in August.

One important note. When you hike the meadows, whether open or with snow, please stay on the designated trails and don't wander off because of bad trail conditions or to get some photographs. These areas are sensitive to damage this time of year and may not recover until later in the season as the plants grow, especially when under the snow.

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 in August until the first significant freezing night temperatures.

This summer the temperatures have been cooler than normal with showers in the NP. With the cooler weather and 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.

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

August, this year, is an interesting time in Mt. Rainier NP. Many of the wildflowers are in bloom in the lower elevations and beginning to bloom in the upper elevations. Excellent places to be this month are Paradise area, Spray Park, Indian Henry's, Sunrise area and Chinook Pass-Tipsoo Lake area. Check the books and on-line guide for information on wildflowers in the NP.

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

In addition, a good destination photo hike are the four fire lookouts in the NP along with two just outside the NP on the south and north sides. You can get a description of them and locate them on a map. They provides excellent vista of Mt. Rainier and the entire 360 view of the NP and area. The problem is that some of these have snow at and on the trail to them, so you have to be prepared with gear and clothing.

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.

You can get additional information about areas by quadrant and Paradise area in the detailed descriptions, currently Paradise area, southwest area and northwest area available.


If you plan a trip to Mt. Rainer NP in August, it's fair to say for now, to plan for variations in weather, see the historic range, for warm to hot days (our peak temperatures) and cool to cooler nights with the chance of showers if not thunderstorms. In short, be prepared.

If you plan to hike into the backcountry, the NPS has issued an advisory on the backcountry and especially the Wonderland Trail, see Press Release. This year the high elevation trails haven't fully cleared of snow and the weather is still cooler than normal. It's the same adage about the NP, be prepared.

You can can get reports for previous months here.

Please use the contact link to send e-mail.

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WSR V2.8, January 2013