Our annual pilgrimage to see the wildflowers
Paradise Travel Blog› entry 45 of 50 › view all entries
The Mt.Rainier National Park is famous for the wildflower bloom during August in its subalpine meadows. So famous it's actually considered a global event with hoardes of tourists from all around the world swarming the national park ranges come mid August when the flowers are in full bloom. The "good" is that it's beautiful, it's the stuff dreams are made of. On the flip side, this happens only during August, AND given how unpredictable the weather is, the sunny days are usually the most crowded.
We've visited twice before - in 2012 (it was a lottery as far as photos go that day!) and the rather cloudy and dull 2013.
We were smart enough to check the forecast (aka, lots of crowds) the previous night so we started early on Saturday morning from Redmond.
There are several walks from Paradise resort (which also houses the lovely visitor centre). The hike to Camp Muir begins here (base for ascent to the Mt. Rainier peak) as well which means that come 10am, the place looks like Grand Central Station.
We did our usual walk up, the "Skyline Trail" which is about 2 miles to the top. What's funny here is that in some intersections, the distance was given in km. I have to say, I was somewhat disappointed by what we saw.
We finished our hike rather early and were back down shortly after noon. The place was FILLED with visitors now. A very helpful lady at the Visitor's Centre gave us the hiking trail to the Bench and Snow Lake trail that was about 1.5 miles away (the trailhead that is).
As we drove down, we saw cars parked along the serpentine switchback, we felt sorry for those families that had to walk all the way up the road just to walk up to Paradise again.
The Bench and Snow Lake trail was a bore on the other hand: it's a simple 2.5m loop but it was just a series of ups and downs all for nothing - 2 boring lakes, one with a middling view of Mt. Rainier. We finished the hike in about 1 hour (average time is 2 hours). And drove for about 3 hours in the peak Saturday evening traffic to get home.
We're seriously considering hiking up to Mt. Rainier next year, let's see how that goes.