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

Current Season Conditions and Photo Opportunities
June 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 be 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.


June can be summarized as spring in the Cascade Mountains. It is the month with some dynamic weather, from clear, sunny days to the rain storms. This is why if you plan a visit this month you need to be prepared for this weather and conditions and be flexible with your plans and locations.

June is the month when the NP starts under spring recreation rules and changes to summer rules, see access, conditions and information about the roads, trails and facilities. Late May, usually the week before the Memorial Day holiday, and into June is when the facilities begin to open for the spring-summer visitors season. This will last through into July as the snowpack melts to open roads and facilities, and trails clear of snow at the mid-elevations.

This year the lower elevations, below 4,000 feet, are snow-free, and mid-elevations, between 4,000 and 5,000 feet, will begin to clear of snow during the month. The rate of clearing (snowmelt) will depend on the weather to start and sustain the snowmelt, but most of the areas below 5,000 feet will have considerable less snow by the end of the month.

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.


The snowplay area at Paradise is closed for the season, but there still is considerable snow, so I do have to stress one note about the trails in the Paradise area.

Stay on the designated paths and trails on the snow where flagged.

This is less critical in the backcountry where many of the snow trails are already established and sufficently covered with snow not to damage the underlying vegetation from hikers. This is critical in the popular areas and on the popular trails in the Paradise area.

Advisory about Guns.-- Beginning February 22nd, openly carrying guns in the NP is legal and concealed with a legal permit. However, there are a number of conditions, which you can find here with links to additional information.

It is illegal to carry a gun indoors and it is illegal to use or fire a gun anywhere in the NP.

This is especially important in the visitors areas, the campgrounds, on the trails, and in the backcountry. You can only carry a gun and nothing else. In addition the NPS has now trained and instructed the park and backcountry rangers to treat all visitors as if they are carrying a gun. This applies to everyone unless it is clear the visitor does not have or is not carrying a gun.

It is still my personal opinion and recommendation that you leave any guns at home. They are unnecesary while visiting the NP and they are unnecessary hiking in the backcountry. There has not been a serious injury or death in the backcountry related to incidents with wildlife, and there are other measures better taken to protect yourself and others in the backcountry.

In addition, openly carrying a gun only endangers everyone else and indicates to them that you are insensitive and inconsiderate of others to understand guns are not necessary to enchance the visitor experience. There are park and backcountry rangers, some with firearms, who are trained and experienced in protecting visitors. They don't need or want your help, especially with your gun.

Photo Opportunities

Photographic opportunities can still be put down to the idea of spring. 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 fewer people. The open tourists areas are becoming crowded, especially on weekend, as are the trails in those areas, namely Paradise as the other entrances become snow free.

This is also the time you can still get winter scene photos as snow will be present to some depth at elevations above 4,000-5,000 feet and snow free below 4,000 feet. 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 or they are still under snow.. 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/cleats.

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 has good opportunities for spring forests and landscape scenes and for many waterfalls, which you can locate with map. There are several easily accessible ones in the southwest area from Longmire to Paradise. With the longer days there is considerable light and daylight hours for longer day hikes to some more remote waterfalls at the lower-to-mid elevations. A tripod is still recommended.

The other prospects are pretty much up to your imagination and willingness to go, explore and stay warm and dry. There will still be other hikers or photographers, less the farther from the trailhead. The problem will still be the weather and snow on the higher elevation trails. With a few roads still closed in some areas, 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 snow, there still is the sheer beauty of the landscapes and Mt. Rainier. With almost no people, cool to 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 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