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

Current Season Conditions and Photo Opportunities
July 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.


July can be summarized as the transistion from spring to summer. The weather transistions from the less dynamic weather of June to the more stable weather of July and into August, the driest months of the year, but still cool to cold at higher elevations for nighttime temperatures. 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.

July is the month when the NP is under summer recreation summer rules, see access, conditions and information about the roads, trails and facilities. July is the month the snowmelt ends, usually between the 15th and 31st of the month at Paradise and elevations below 6,000 feet throughout the NP except on north slopes and in shaded areas, where the snow will stay into early-mid August this year and clear about 6,000 feet in many areas.

This means the trails will be clear of snow during the month from below 5,000 feet early in the month to above 6,000 late in the month. You should always check the most recent trail conditions for the trails you're interested during your visit but still be ready for unexpected conditions.

This means you don't need to plan for snow unless you hike above 5,000 in early July and above 6,000 feet later in July. One important note. Please stay on the designated trails when hiking in open fields or across meadows and don't wander off because of bad trail conditions or to get some photographs. These areas are sensitive to damage this time of year and may not recover until later in the season as the plants grow.

In addition with the snowpack has increased snowmelt runoff in all the rivers draining the basin around Mt. Rainier, such as the Nisqually River, Puyallup River, Cowlitz River. The daily diurnal snowmelt is evident in the graphs of flow. The upper reaches of the rivers and the tributaries to those rivers have more exaggerated diurnal, so care must be take around the upper rivers and especially when crossing tributary creeks.

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.


Advisory about Trails.-- While snow persists and melts on trails in meadows and open areas, it is important to minimize the danger to vegetation, expecially wildflowers, and as such please follow this rule.

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 summer. 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 will be crowded, especially on weekends and holidays, 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 5,000-6,000 feet until late in the month when it clear below 6,000 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.

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 late season snow on the higher elevation trails.

The other prospects are the open meadows and alpine areas. While the snow melts in these areas, the vegetation and wildflowers will emerge for great photo opportuntity through July and into early-mid August, but please observe the signs to stay on the trails and avoid damage from trips and camera packs.

I do have to stress one note about alpine areas and meadows, especially with any reamining 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