Mount Rainier National Park

By , August 6, 2010 7:43 am

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Ok, I’ve got to start this off with a disclaimer and a warning…

The disclaimer: The picture above is heavily processed and is more of an “art” picture than a historical or reference shot.  But, it is almost exactly what I was hoping to get when I set it up.  For those interested in why it looks like it does, do some research on HDR processing (later).  Winking smile

The warning: This is a long post.  I have an excuse though…  The weather was just about perfect and it’s pretty hard not just point a camera at something here and get a good picture.

IMG_2430“Here” was Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state.  We spent five days in the area, divided between Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.  Instead of jumping back and forth, we’re doing a couple of Rainier posts first, then we’ll do another one on St. Helens.

Mount Rainier National Park is pretty awesome!  In my book, it’s close to Glacier NP in scenery and photography value.  It’s easier to get around and it’s more “tourist friendly”.  However, it’s also got a LOT of area that isn’t easy to get to unless you plan to do some major hiking and camping.  We did a few walking trails, but mostly stuck to the main roads in the Jeep.

IMG_2435Surprisingly, you can’t actually see Mount Rainier unless you’re far away (up to 100 miles away on a clear day) or until you’ve driven a few miles into the park.  The mountains around Rainier aren’t ridiculously impressive or anything, but they’re big enough for it to hide behind. 

We were staying in Randle, so we came in on the Southeast corner of the park, at Stephen’s Canyon entrance.  If you come the same way, it’s worth stopping at the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center on the way in.

The first scenic stop that we made was at Box Canyon.  Here we found a nice plaque explaining that the rock I was standing on had been polished by a glacier at one time.  The road also goes over the canyon, so you can get a nice perspective from the sidewalk.IMG_2442

The first real “viewpoint” of Mount Rainier from the entrance we used had plenty of parking.  If you’re coming in from the Stephens Canyon entrance, keep going.  There are a few nicer views after you cross a deep valley.

One of the stops we made was at the Reflection Lakes.  This is a small collection of lakes that the main road runs right next to.  I would imagine they earned their names by being smooth as glass… when there’s no wind.  We had just enough wind to ripple everything, but it’s still a nice view.

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After Reflection Lakes, we took a scenic loop up to and around Paradise.  It was absolutely packed and there didn’t seem to be any better view than the ones we’d been seeing all morning, so we didn’t stop.

Further down the road is Narada Falls.  We definitely stopped for that!IMG_2514  We actually stopped once to eat lunch and enjoy the falls at the top, then we stopped again later in the day on the way back to do the trail.  The trail is pretty steep and is loose rock and dirt in some places, but it’s worth it.  The Narada Falls parking area is at the top of the falls.  Unfortunately, it’s somewhat behind the fall area, so you can’t actually see the falls.  You can see the stream that feeds the falls, and you can sit on the bridge that goes over it.  The trail goes to the other side of the river and down a steep hill.  We stopped at about half the height of the falls, which is probably the best view you’ll find without bushwacking.

The falls do send up a water mist, so be careful with you’re camera and electronic gear.  Just keep stuff covered until you’re ready to take a picture and you should be fine.  The reward, of course, is the rainbows that are pretty much always present due to this (check the lower right corner of the picture to the right).

IMG_3510Narada Falls are clearly the biggest and most impressive of the easily accessible falls off the road we were on, but they aren’t the only ones.

Christine Falls is a multi-level fall that starts well above the road (there’s a steep hike up to the top) and ends well below the road.  There’s a short walk down from the road to see the falls under the bridge, which is definitely worth it.IMG_2502

Our next stop was at Longmire.  There is a museum here, along with most of the park’s administrative offices, an inn, plus shuttle busses to run back and forth to Paradise.  We checked out the museum and the administration building.  They were interesting, but not very photographic.  I’ll probably include some of those pictures in another slide show that I’ll get to eventually. Winking smile

At Longmire, we ended our trip for the first day in the park and headed back to our campground in Randle, WA.

Note: There will be another post on Mt. Rainier NP, this one was getting long enough. Winking smile

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2 Responses to “Mount Rainier National Park”

  1. Everet says:

    very nice pics and text

  2. Eric says:

    I love the shot of Mount Ranier. I’m just learning about HDR – cool!

    You all have covered an amazing amount of ground since I last checked in.

    Eric

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