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

Current Season Conditions and Photo Opportunities
October 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.


October can be summarized by the words, winter is coming. It's easy to forget the fall is usually short and winter comes early to Mt. Rainier and the NP. It's deceptive when the weather is fair in Seattle and the Puget Sound lowlands, while Mt. Rainier is cold(er) and often raining or snowing, or the opposite, clear in Seattle and the mountain shrouded in clouds and rain or snow. This is the month the NPS begins the seasonal closures and reductions, see the news and vistior information links above.

But that said, October is still a good month to go. You have to ensure you are well prepared for any weather as it's unpredictable which at least includes all proper clothes, supplies and equipment as the facilities are closed and emergency gear, and be flexible with your plans for weather and road closures. The good part is that you'll find most of the trails still good with far fewer people.

With respect to the weather, you should be aware of both the latest NWS forecast as well as the latest real-time weather data and check the Webcams at Paradise.

Photo Opportunities

Photographic opportunities can be put down to the idea of fall and then fall-to-winter. If you enjoy the fall and like be out and photographing in the fall, you'll be fine. There are lots of excellent seasonal nature and landscape scenes when and where there are far fewer people. The open tourists areas are far less crowded as are the trails in those areas, namely Paradise as the other are closed or only open to walk-ins.

This is also the time you can get the first winter scene photos if the freezing and snow levels accommodate or you're willing to do some hikng into the higher elevations. The seasonal snow doesn't generally start until mid-November into December, but October has seen snow storms lasting a few days down to the 4-5,000 foot elevation.

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.

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 mountain.


This month should still 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 still 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 prospects are the open meadows and alpine areas. While the wildflowers are long gone, there still is the sheer beauty of the landscapes and Mt. Rainier. With fewer people, milder temperatures, and no bugs, the climate is great to be there and photograph the scenery.

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