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

Current Season Conditions and Photo Opportunities
September 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.


While August is the start of the transistion months from summer to fall, September is the end of summer and start of fall in the NP. Like that's an understatement? With the exception of the occasional indian summer, September is a month of highly variable weather conditions, see table of extremes including snow, which won't stick but changes the scene a lot for the time it's there.

September is also the transistion month for the NPS' operation of the visitors centers. The Sunrise center will close September 7th and the rest will close at the end of the month or in October except for Longmire which is open year around. You can get more information on the NPS Web page for visitor centers.

After Labor Day is the best time for the trails and photo ops, as the bugs are gone as are most visitors, It's the best time to find places with few, if any, people, and it's when the light is better as the days are shorter and the mid-morning to mid-afternoon sun less intense, so you can be out taking photos all day.

This summer the temperatures have been cooler than normal with showers in the NP. With the cooler weather of September, the trails will be cooler and nights colder, even near freezing. So, bring along that extra layer of clothes and extra snacks to help stay warm.

Photo Oppoortunities

This year, is an interesting time in Mt. Rainier NP. Many of the wildflowers are late but lingering. 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.

One important note. As the wildflower season was late and still lingering, 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 and their growing season short.

The higher than normal snowpack and late snowmelt have maintained the flow in the waterfalls in the NP, which should continue for awhile longer. This affords a lot of excellent opportunities for 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.

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 September, 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. 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