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

Current Season Conditions and Photo Opportunities
August 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.


August is the month when and where things change. July is the peak of the summer weather, the bugs, the wildflowers and all the great summer opportunities there. This carries into August when the last of the snow melts from this year's higher snowpack and later snowmelt than normal and almost all the trails, including the full extent of the Wonderland Trail, is clear and open, minus the normal damage from the winter snow and spring snowmelt.

But August is also the transistion month when and where things begin the change to fall. It will be slow and almost imperceptible during the month and through the Labor Day holiday except at the higher elevations where the first cold nights begin, sometime mid-to-late August. It's when just after the first near-freezing nights the bugs almost disappear, leaving only the few hardiest left and making hiking and camping a lot easier.

All the facilities are open in August, along with all the people visiting before the school session begins. So it's the same as in July. Get there early and enjoy the trails where you can enjoy a snow-free time and trails almost everywhere throughout the NP.

Photo Opportunities

The opportunities in August are for the higher elevations and the alpine meadows. In addition many of the waterfalls will still be good for access via the trails with some flow from the July snowmelt in the basin above the waterfalls. Since the all the NP below 6,000+ foot elevation is snow-free, it's a matter of picking your places and just going.

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 with map. There are several easily accessible ones in the southwest area from Longmire to Paradise. The many smaller, unnamed ephemeral waterfalls should have some 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 peak plants and wildflowers. The later clearing of higher elevation alpine meadows affords good opportunities into August for those above 5,000 feet, such as Spray Park, Klapatche Park, Upper Palisades, among others. You can get more information from the Web pages for wildflowers, and map of areas.

I do have to stress one note about alpine areas and meadows.

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