Mazama Ridge in Mount Rainier National Park

   Sunset over the Cascade Range from the Skyline Trail on Mazama Ridge. The Paradise Inn, Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center and Paradise Valley Road are in the foreground – Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA.

sunset over mount rainier national park from mazama ridge

Sunset in Mount Rainier National Park from the Skyline Trail on Mazama Ridge (Purchase)

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   On the first day of my trip to Mount Rainier National Park last year I hiked up to Mazama Ridge. I’d seen a number of photographs from there before, and it looked like a good place to start exploring the area around Paradise – beyond the views available from the roadside. I parked at the small lot (elevation: 5250 feet or 1600 meters) near the Paradise River bridge in Paradise Valley, and hiked up the Fourth Crossing Trail. I’ve been part way up this trail in the past, and though parts of it feel a lot like climbing stairs much of this is right next to the Paradise River which makes it a bit more pleasant. The Fourth Crossing Trail eventually meets up with the Skyline Trail after a climb of around 250 feet (76 m) in elevation. If I had to do this again I would park near the Paradise Inn and walk the Skyline trail from there rather than heading back down to my car along the Fourth Crossing Trail in the dark.

   From the junction of the Skyline and Fourth Crossing trails there is a series of switchbacks to get you up to Mazama Ridge (at an elevation of around 5800 feet (1770m)). The Skyline Trail then comes to a junction with the Lakes Trail (which Google refers to as the Mazama Ridge Trail). As I was still primarily scouting I headed down the Lakes Trail in search of wildflowers and places to photograph. This trail heads downhill gently at first, but if you wish it will take you all the way down to Reflection Lakes. The panorama below is a view of the Tatoosh Range before the trail gets down into the trees.

the tatoosh range from mazama ridge

Summer wildflowers and the Tatoosh Range (Purchase)

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   This stretch of the Lakes Trail is also where some of the iconic views of Mount Rainier with wildflowers are found. If you do hike this trail, or any of these trails in Mount Rainier National Park please don’t trample the wildflowers or other foliage along the trails. The “keep on the trail” signs are around for a reason as some visitors to these sensitive areas seem to see nothing wrong with wandering off the trail and crushing the wildflowers. It was at this point in the trail I was talking to one of the park volunteers and we noticed some moron about 50 feet off the trail behind us trampling through the wildflower field. If that wasn’t bad enough, he was dragging an aluminum stepladder around up there. After I’d left up the Skyline Trail I ran into the volunteer again – he’d given the stepladder guy a good lecture. This really shouldn’t be necessary…

   After making a few photographs along the Lakes Trail I headed back up to the junction with the Skyline Trail. I scouted the Skyline Trail up past the Stevens Van Trump Historic Monument at which point the light turned the sky a nice colour and the shadows disappeared from the foreground. At this elevation the Tatoosh Range comes into a better view compared to lower down on the Lakes Trail. I’ve said this before but often I prefer photographing the Tatoosh Range over Rainier itself – especially when in the Paradise area. I wrote a bit more about this in an earlier post featuring a panorama of the tatoosh range. Rainier takes up a lot of the sky and can be tough to photograph backlit by the sunset in the evenings. Dawn would probably be an ideal time, but I’m saving that for when I actually stay at the Paradise Inn or relatively nearby.

the tatoosh range from mazama ridge

Summer wildflowers on Mazama Ridge (Purchase)

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   I had seen a few photographs with the shadows of mountains at sunrise and sunset, but hadn’t give it much thought in terms of finding this phenomenon myself. It was on Mazama Ridge I saw this for the first time. The dark blue in the sky is the shadow of Mount Rainier cast down towards Stevens Valley and the Cascade mountains to the east.

the shadow of mount rainier from mazama ridge

The Shadow of Mount Rainier from Mazama Ridge (Purchase)

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   I’ve shown the following image before, but I think it remains my favourite of all the images I made that evening on Mazama Ridge. A lot of Magenta Paintbrush (Castilleja parviflora) in the foreground (as opposed to the usually dominant Lupines) and great sunset colours in the sky. This was near the intersection of the Skyline Trail and the Paradise Glacier Trail.

wildflowers and the tatoosh range from mazama ridges skyline trail in mount rainier national park

Rainier Wildflowers and the Tatoosh Range from Mazama Ridge.
Wildflower species include Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius), Magenta Paintbrush (Castilleja parviflora) and Western Anenome seedheads (Anenome occidentalis) (Purchase)

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   You may also be interested in my report from the area north of the Paradise Inn – The Skyline Trail and the Golden Gate Trail and the Mount Rainier National Park gallery in my image archive.

A Few Images From Paradise At Mount Rainier

The Tatoosh Range just after sunset – from Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA

sunset over the tatoosh range in mount rainier national park

Sunset over the Tatoosh Range from Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park (Purchase)

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   I recently caught up on a bit of my photo editing backlog and have now added just over 50 new photographs to my Mount Rainier National Park Gallery in my image library. I have published a few of those images in previous blog posts, but I thought I would share a few more from the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park here.

   It’s not easy being a Marmot! While I was relaxing on a rock waiting for better light along the Golden Gate Trail in Mount Rainier National Park, I saw this Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata) doing the same. Well, it probably wasn’t waiting for better light, but relaxing after a hard afternoon munching on lupine foliage and gathering nesting material. It clearly knew I was there, but didn’t seem to care at all. Probably was used to people along a relatively busy trail in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier.

hoary marmot in mount rainier national park

A Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata) relaxes on a rock along the Golden Gate Trail in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, USA (Purchase)

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   You can spot the deer, you can get in position to photograph them as they move through the wildflower field, but you can’t make them look at you! A pair of Black-tailed Deer (Odocileus hemionus columbianus) were nice enough to amble right past me in the wildflower fields on the Golden Gate Trail above Paradise, but never once glanced in my direction. I even scuffed my feet in the gravel trail once… nothing. At least I know I wasn’t disturbing them.

black tailed deer foraging in wildflower field

A Black-tailed Deer (Odocileus hemionus columbianus) foraging in the meadows near Edith Creek at Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA (Purchase)

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   There is something I always enjoy about the combination of lush wildflowers (in this case mostly Broadleaf Lupines and some Pink Mountain Heather) and a waterfall. The mosquitoes thought so too!

wildflowers and an edith creek waterfall in mount rainier national park

Wildflowers surround a small waterfall on Edith Creek at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA (Purchase)

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   I have always found this angle of view on the Nisqually Glacier to be interesting from Ricksecker Point and other areas near Paradise. This time I photographed it from the Nisqually Vista Trail for an even better view. In this photograph you can see the icefall of the glacier and the terminus at the bottom, as well as the very beginnings of the Nisqually River from the melting ice.

terminus of the nisqually glacier and icefall on mount rainier

Terminus of the Nisqually Glacier on Mount Rainier (Purchase)

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You can see even more photographs from the Paradise area in my Mount Rainier National Park Gallery.

Myrtle Falls at Mount Rainier National Park

Myrtle Falls and Mount Rainier in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA.

myrtle falls and mount rainier

Myrtle Falls in Mount Rainier National Park (Purchase)

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   During my earlier trips to Mount Rainier National Park I had been to the Paradise area many times, but had never actually ventured out above the parking lot. In the late summer of 2013 I spent 2 evenings in the area, the first being on Mazama Ridge. This part of the Skyline Trail up to Edith Creek and Myrtle Falls is pretty easy going, and is even paved up to that point. I passed a roughly 80-something woman who was heading up there with a walker. She said she went up there every year and would go even if she had to crawl! I hope I am that tenacious when I am that age. The view is certainly interesting, and the area being surrounded by the blooming wildflowers doesn’t hurt.

   As this was my first visit to the area above Paradise I made a few photographs of Edith Creek and Myrtle falls and moved on up the trail. This looks to be a great spot to pull out the longer 70-200 lens and photograph some of the finer details of the falls, as I did with Narada Falls on a previous trip.

You can see more of my Rainier photographs in my Mount Rainier National Park Gallery.

Mount Rainier Sunrise Near Tipsoo Lake

Early morning light on Mount Rainier and a wildflower meadow above Upper Tipsoo Lake – in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA

mount rainier sunrise and wildflowers

Mount Rainier and a meadow of wildflowers above Tipsoo Lake (Purchase)

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   Showing up early in the morning at Tipsoo Lake in Mount Rainier National Park I was not surprised to see a number of photographers lining select parts of Upper Tipsoo Lake. Unfortunately, “the shot” people seem to want from there is off the trail, which is the second reason I probably will never have “the shot” from that location. On this morning, however, all the photographers were grumpy and lamented to me about the wind that was destroying any chance they had of getting a reflection. I pointed out to a few of them that climbing the hill might yield something interesting (this was the reason I was there). Nobody followed me. I am not necessarily against “trophy hunting” photography, of course I photograph some iconic locations as well. I do think those photographers would have been well served to climb the hill behind the lake to see what other perspectives might be available – especially after conditions were not favourable to their initial plans. The photograph above has a few elements I enjoy – nice light on the mountain and wildflowers in the foreground. I have already published one photograph of the same Mount Rainier sunrise from my climb of the hill. Neither of these would have been a photographic opportunity I would have had if I’d retreated to my car after failing to find the “the shot” I saw online.

More photographs of Mount Rainer National Park can be found in my Image Library.

Narada Falls at Mount Rainier NP

The base of Narada Falls at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, USA

narada falls in mount rainier national park

Narada Falls in Mount Rainier National Park

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   During the summer of 2012 I was in Mount Rainier National Park on a photography trip. As with many days at Mount Rainier – the clouds rolled in and you couldn’t see the mountain – not even the Tatoosh Range. On my first trip there in 2009 I remember explaining to some German tourists (who were excited to see Mount Rainier) while standing in the Paradise parking lot that actually the mountain IS right there… you just can’t see it. I suggested some of the waterfalls but they weren’t interested – they must not have been photographers! So with similar conditions presented in 2012 I photographed Narada Falls instead. There are only so many points where you can see the falls, so doing all that much creative with wider angles is not easy. For this photograph I pulled out the 70-200mm lens to find some details I liked. I have a number of photographs of some other details of Narada Falls but I think my favourite is this photo of the water hitting the rocks at the base..

   I also chose this photograph to again play around with some black and white conversions. This was my favourite iteration of Narada Falls in black and white from my experimentation. Does this monochrome version work for you?

Mount Rainier Wildflowers and Sunset

Mount Rainier peeks over a wildflower covered meadow at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, USA.

fall colour at chilliwack lake and mount webb

Mount Rainier and a wildflower covered meadow at sunset (Purchase)

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   A photograph from my trip to Mount Rainier National Park in August where some jogging was required. I also had to do a bit of running to make a photo of similar light reflecting in Edith Creek – which I posted in August. I’m sure the few brave tourists still out at this time of the evening found my antics entertaining, but I’ve learned that sometimes when you take light like this complacently, you’ll be quickly punished by it’s disappearance. So I jogged up the trail to a spot I’d taken note of with some nice flowers, tripod over my shoulder, and my personal cloud of mosquitoes in tow behind me. I believe my efforts were worthwhile!

For more photos from this trip visit my Mount Rainier National Park Gallery.

Mount Rainier Wildflowers – Edith Creek

A small waterfall on Edith Creek in Mount Rainier National Park during wildflower season at Paradise, Washington State, USA

mount rainier and edith creek in mount rainier national park

Mount Rainier and Edith Creek (Purchase)

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   This spot along the Skyline Trail in Mount Rainier National Park features both Rainier and Edith Creek. It happens to be one of those “iconic” locations that is often photographed, and you can see why. Many photographers publicly deride iconic locations and those who photograph them but I don’t have a problem with shooting in these places (obviously). These locations are icons for a reason – they offer great scenery and are often easily accessible. After photographing an iconic location, however, I do think you should try thinking outside the box and find your own compositions in the area. There are always other angles and subjects to shoot that have not been photographed so many times before. Those who shoot an icon and then turn around and leave are missing out on a lot of the fun.

   See more photographs from Mount Rainier National Park in my Image Library.

A Tatoosh Range Wildflower Sunset

Panorama of the Tatoosh Range from Mazama Ridge in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA.

tatoosh range and wildflower sunset panorama in mount rainier national park

The Tatoosh Range and Wildflowers at Sunset (Purchase)

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   Sometimes with scenes like this one I just can’t help but make a few panorama photos. Some places, in my mind at least, almost require this format to more accurately convey the impact the scenery has when actually standing there. A simple wide angle photograph doesn’t always accomplish this like a panorama can. Of course, a photograph is a poor imitation of the actual experience, so this is a place I plan to return to next year – most likely again during wildflower season. This is of course the Tatoosh Range in Mount Rainier National Park as seen from Mazama Ridge. While not as evident as in some of my earlier photos from this trip, there is a nice field of wildflowers (mostly Lupines, Paintbrush and Sitka Valerian) in the foreground. This view can be found along the Skyline Trail on Mazama Ridge, uphill from the junction with the Lakes Trail.

   While editing photos from my Rainier trip it has become obvious that I have so far heavily favoured the Tatoosh Range as a background for my photographs in the park. I did make a lot more photographs of Rainier itself on this trip, but I think my favourites are still of the Tatoosh. Why? Well, my last few trips to Rainier have been in pursuit of wildflowers, and the Paradise area is a fantastic place to find them. That close to the mountain though, the peak takes up so much of the sky and is such an imposing element in a composition I find it can overwhelm the photograph. Weather is another factor – clouds often hide the view of Rainier itself, and the Tatoosh range is much closer and is not always enveloped by the same clouds. I should try Paradise at sunrise though, I bet the light on Rainier would be much easier to work with than at sunset. On this trip I did photograph Rainier from Tipsoo Lake at sunrise, and I found that to be not only great light, but a suitable distance from Rainier to work quite nicely as a background for photographs. The Sunrise area is also a great place to photograph Rainier, though not as heavily populated by wildflowers.