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

Current Season Conditions and Photo Opportunities
November 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.


November can be summarized as late fall to early winter. It is the month with some of the most dynamic and extreme weather, from warm sunny days to severe rainstorms and floods or sudden snow storms. This year the first snows have come and gone already in late September and in October, with 4-6 inches in late October. This is why if you plan a visit this month you need to be prepared for any weather and coditions and be flexible with your plans and lcoations.

November is also the month when all of the seasonal closures are done and the facilitie are under winter recreation rules, (see access and conditions) and for the status of the road beetwen Longmire and Paradise controlled daily at the gate just east of Longmire and the only facilities open at Paradise is the Jackson Visitors Center. The facilities and lodging at Longmire is open year around, except when the entrance or highway to the NP is closed.

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 late fall and early winter. If you enjoy this time and like be out and photographing, 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 hiking into the higher elevations. The seasonal snow doesn't generally start until mid-November into December, but early to mid November has seen snow storms lasting a few days to a week or more 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 still has good opportunities for fall-to-winter forests and snow scenes and the waterfalls with map. There are several easily accessible ones in the southwest area from Longmire to Paradise. With the shorter days and less daylight, you'll need a tripod.

The other prospects are pretty much up to your imagination and willingness to go, explore and stay warm and dry. There will be very few, if any, other hikers or photographers (snow people dont' show up until Thanksgivings Day Holiday). The problem will be the weather and trails. With roads closed, the hikes may be longer, but all the roadside photo opportunities will be there.

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 almost no people, cold temperatures, the first snows, the photo opportunies and locations should be great.

I do have to stress one note about alpine areas and meadows, especially with the early snowpack.

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