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

Current Season Conditions and Photo Opportunities
July 2009

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, news stories, etc.


July is when this year's above normal snowpack continues to melt, where the snow is gone from almost all areas below 4,000 feet except north-facing slopes and shaded areas and remanants are still prevalent above 4,000 feet. This will change during July as the summer weather improves, but expect patches of snow at higher elevations throughout the month.

Currently the NP is going through the scheduled openings for the entrances, facilities, roads and campgrounds into early July, but mostly it's the opening of the road to Sunrise and facilities there and the Mowich Lake road and facilities.

You can enjoy a snow-free time and trails at the lower elevations (below 4,000 feet) with persistent snow 4-6,000 feet and still significant depths above 6,000 feet. This snowpack will thoroughly melt during July and open the meadows, all of which are currently under snow.

Photo Oppoortunities

The opportunities in July are in the lower elevations early in the month and later for the higher elevations and the alpine meadows. In addition many of the waterfalls will be at their best for access via the trails with significant flow from the snowmelt in the basin above the waterfalls.

Since the lower elevations are snow-free, the best opportunities will be in the southwest, Nisqually entrance, northwest, Carbon River entrance, and southeast, Ohanapecosh entrance, areas. The Mowich Lake (northwest) and Sunrise (northeast) areas won't open until late June or early July, but the former is currently open to hikers.

Another photo opportunity are on the highways approaching Mt. Rainier. On clear days the mountain should provide an excellent subject or backdrop for scenes around the NP. This is outside the scope of this photo guide, but doing some exploring of roads can provide some excellent views of the snow-capped early spring mountain. The days are longer where you can time your sun and moon photos.


This month should provide good opportunities for waterfalls. There are several easily accessible ones in the southwest area from Longmire to Paradise. The many smaller, unnamed ephemeral waterfalls should have seasonal flow, many of which are just off the road or trail or a short off-trail hike up small creeks.

The other prospect is the change of season as the trees and plants start their growing and blooming season. The best will be in the lower elevations forests, especially when the areas near ponds or remanants of snowmelt. The melt will release the smaller trees and provide openings for seedlings along with the the many smaller bushes and plants.

Lastly the wildflowers, see map of areas, will be in bloom in mid-to-late July. The snow isn't expected to melt until mid-July in most of alpine meadows. With respect to the meadows, stay on the designated paths and trails in the meadows. It's easy to want to wander and explore off trail areas especially to photograph some interesting flowers, areas or scenes. But it's very simple.

Stay on the designated paths and trails in the meadows.

You may not leave a trace, but others may not be so cautious and careful about their footprint in environmentally sensitive areas. In addition you will run the risk of being given a ticket by a Park Ranger for violating the rules (which all visitors accept when entering the NP).

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 are in snow and the weather is cold. 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