The air is heavily perfumed with wildflower and forest scents at Mt Rainier National Park right now. Summer has seemed to have finally arrived here in the Pacific Northwest, and throngs of people are heading to the park. What many fail to realize, especially if not from the local area, is that most of the upper elevation trails are still not accessible due to the lingering snow amounts. Yes, I said snow! And this is August? Interesting enough, one of the local newspapers, The News Tribune, today has an article commenting on the not-so-normal situation and warning park visitors to be very careful if they choose to navigate some of the still snowbound trails. I found this out myself yesterday when I attempted one of the trails from the Narada Falls area. I quickly encountered snow blocking the trail, and so disappointedly, I turned back. But don’t let the snow deter you from visiting the park. The road to Paradise is heralding in the wildflower season, lining the roadsides with every color of the rainbow and filling nostrils with wonderful floral aromas. The Avalanche Lily, Subalpine Lupine, Bear Grass, Purple Aster, Sitka Valerian, Paintbrush, Rock Penstemon, Trilium, and many more wildflower species are there for you to discover and marvel at.
Bright Pink Rock Penstemon
There are no meadows of wildflowers up at Paradise since that area is still snowbound, but if one ventures onto the Stevens Canyon Road near the Reflection Lakes, they will be taken aback with breathtaking views of the mountain and the plethora of wildflowers in the area along the roadsides. In fact, I found this to be the most idlyllic spot in the park yesterday for a picnic, relaxing, and for nature photography. I lingered quite a while and didn’t want to leave—it was so beautiful! The coolness of the pine-scented air was a welcome refreshment on a warm day. From almost every spot in the park one could hear the sounds of running water in a nearby stream, a cascading waterfall, or a river as they hastily carried away melting snows. Rivers and streams are gushing full speed. This scenario will continue for a few more weeks as the lingering snow amounts melt away in the summer heat. I am looking forward to a summer day when I will be able to walk the wildflower filled meadows of Paradise. Won’t you join me?