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

Current Season Conditions and Photo Opportunities
February 2010

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.


February can be summarized as winter. It is the month with some dynamic and extreme weather, from clear, sunny days snow storms. The seasonal snow has long arrived with snow everywhere except the lowest elevations near the boundaries of the NP in the southwest and northwest areas, but these areas will continue to get seasonal snow through winter. This is why if you plan a visit this month you need to be prepared for any weather and conditions and be flexible with your plans and locations.

February is also the month when the NP is 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 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 entrances are closed or only open to walk-ins.

This is also the time you can get winter scene photos as snow will be present to some depth at all elevations above about 3,000 feet but will change below 3,000 feet during periods of colder weather with seasonal snowstorms. You can check the latest weather conditions on the Mt. Rainier map of weather sites. But even the lower elevations are excellent for winter forests scenes with the background of snow on the upper elevations and Mt. Rainier.

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 should first check ahead to see if the trail is open to them as they are closed for the season. 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 these have significant snow to and on the trail, so you have to be prepared with winter gear, clothing and snowshoes.

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 as now through the winter has good opportunities for winter forests and snow scenes and for some 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. 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 buried under feet of snow, there still is the sheer beauty of the landscapes and Mt. Rainier. With almost no people, cold temperatures, the snow, 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 and open areas.

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