A Night on Mt. Rainier, A Day in Paradise

Night photography was an excuse to visit Mt. Rainier, but it was also a lovely autumn day for a hike in the alpine zone on the volcano.

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Mt_Rainier_October-35Sunset view down Nisqually River Valley in Mt. Rainier National Park..

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Night photography beckoned this fall, so I decided to do an overnight trip to Mt. Rainier on what I hoped would be a relatively clear night.  Actually, my first choice had been an overnight backpack on the lower slopes of Mt. Baker, but then I saw a recent trip report for the Railroad Grade area that had a hiker postholing through the deep snow there.  Change in plans!

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I drove to Mt. Rainier just after noon on an early October weekday.  It was cloudy upon my arrival, but I had time to check out possible positions for night photography and to find some great spots for late autumn photography.

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After taking some evening photographs of a vivid sunset, I went to Cougar Rock Campground and was sawing logs (and not for a campfire!) by 8:00 p.m., with the alarm set for 3:00 a.m., when I expected the half-moon would be high in the sky and most of the clouds would have lifted.

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I awoke as planned and drove to Reflection Lakes, drinking the coffee I had wisely made before bed.  The mountain was revealed and everything went as planned, though I was a little surprised that there wasn’t more snow on The Mountain, given the stormy weather of late.  Later, I had hoped for dawn alpenglow on the peak, but just got the littlest bit of faint pink light.

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I spent the rest of the day photographing in the Paradise area, with a classic clear morning at Reflection Lakes, followed by a hike on the Skyline Trail in search of White-tailed Ptarmigans, which I failed to find.  It was a wonderful day with lots of older hikers on the trail.

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Mt_Rainier_October-73A strange cloud emanates from the mountain at night..

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Mt_Rainier_October-107Dawn glow, stars, and clouds..

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Mt_Rainier_October-114At first light, the cloud emanating from The Mountain began to dissipate..

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Mt_Rainier_October-121A touch of alpenglow on the rock and glaciers at dawnpp
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Mt_Rainier_October-150A classic view of Mount Rainier reflected in Reflection Lakes..
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Mt_Rainier_October-163A cedar puncheon boardwalk crosses a small stream..
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Mt_Rainier_October-167Blueberry bushes, scarlet with autumn, share a talus slope with subalpine trees..
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Mt_Rainier_October-199A grand staircase, with a quote from John Muir, leads to the high country..
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Mt_Rainier_October-195A stunning view of The Mountain on a crisp autumn morning in Paradise..
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Mt_Rainier_October-232The lovely colors of blueberry leaves..
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Mt_Rainier_October-249A Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel living above timberline..
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Mt_Rainier_October-259A tarn in the raw rock and gravel land above timberline..
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Mt_Rainier_October-268Glacier-gouged and polished rocks with the Tatoosh Range distant..
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Mt_Rainier_October-288A cloud quickly rises like a cresting wave or a geyser..
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Mt_Rainier_October-313Nootka Cypress trees (formerly Alaska Yellow Cedar) with blueberry leaves.’
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Mt_Rainier_October-305The enchanted Skyline Trail winds through a subalpine forest..
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Mt_Rainier_October-316Fuzzy white seed heads among blueberry leaves.
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Mt_Rainier_October-41
Looking down the Nisqually River Valley at sunset
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To see my web site, which includes photographic prints for sale, please go to LeeRentz.com

To see thousands of my photographs in large file sizes for use in magazines or other printed materials or electronic media, go to my PhotoShelter Website

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Author: leerentz

BS and MS in natural resources, with early career work as an artist and nature center director. Became a full-time photographer in 1990. Sells photographs at art shows nationwide. Publication credits include National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, US News & World Report, Prevention, National Wildlife, Audubon, and scores of other magazines, books, calendars, and electronic media.

4 thoughts on “A Night on Mt. Rainier, A Day in Paradise”

  1. My dream vacation is to come to Mt. Rainier, stay at Paradise Inn for couple of days and drive using the scenic pacific route all the way back to CA. And……………may my dream come true 🙂

    1. It is a great place to visit, and be sure and drive around the Olympic Peninsula while you’re here, and stay at the Quinault Lodge and see the rain forest, then stay at Kalaloch along the beautiful Washington Coast.

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