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August 21, 2009 / Greg Vaughn

Mount Rainier Wildflowers

Wildflowers and Tatoosh Range, from the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park.

Wildflowers and Tatoosh Range, from the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park.

By several accounts, this year has been among the best in recent times for the wildflowers at Mount Rainier National Park. After hearing earlier this month that the flowers had peaked, I was afraid I wasn’t going to find much by the time I was able to get up there, but I was delighted to find that there are still several areas of lush meadows with lots of colorful flowers in their prime.

The always-helpful National Park Rangers at the visitor centers pointed me to the upper areas of the Skyline Trail and the Lakes Trail on Mazama Ridge, and they were right on the money. The photo above is from the upper part of the Skyline Trail, a loop trail around the Paradise area of Mount Rainier that takes in some of the best scenery in the park. Meadows there were filled with lupine, Indian paintbrush, pasqueflower (aka “mouse-on-a-stick”) and a number of other species.

Mount Rainier National Park encompasses a wide range of habitats and diverse eco-systems. The final day of my visit I hiked close to a glacier (rapidly receding due to global warming) and past shady pockets of meadows where avalanche lilies were still in bloom then drove down to lowland old-growth forest where a few vine maple trees were already showing their fall colors – Spring, Summer and Fall seasons within a few miles.

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