Paradise Park, Mt. Rainier National Park

Wildflowers at Mazama Ridge, Mt. Rainier

Wildflowers at Paradise, Mt. Rainier.

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Wildflowers at Mazama Ridge, Mt. Rainier
I arrive at Paradise, 2½ hours by car from Seattle, about 6pm and follow the one-way drive down to a small parking lot just across the Paradise River. The hike to Mazama Ridge is seven-tenths of a mile, about 500 vertical feet. I carry three lenses: Canon 24mm T/S, 90mm T/S, 300mm f/4, plus tripod, extension tube and filters. The image shown here is one of the first. Canon Elan IIE, 90mm f/2.8 T/S. Two-stop split ND filter. Velvia 50, 1/15sec @ f/11.

Mid-August, 2000.

“Gardens of Eden . . . . filled knee-deep with fresh, lovely flowers of every hue, the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings.” -John Muir, writing about a 1888 visit to Paradise Park and the Mountain.

Wildflower “parks” surround Mt. Rainier, like a summer-time skirt for its white-bloused glaciers. The grandest and the most accessible are at Paradise. On the trails here I savor the expansive view, the wide-angle perspective, verticals. Plus a few intimate portraits.

An excellent campanion to a Rainier visit is Ruth Kirk’s Sunrise to Paradise, a story of Mt. Rainier. In years past Paradise sustained a lot of damage: horse trails, ski tows, invasive plants, a golf course, visitor trampling (including photographers looking for a better angle). Park volunteers work tirelessly to repair damaged meadow: 1,800 hours in 1997 alone. If you’re ever tempted to step off a trail, after reading this book you’ll surely do it barefoot, or not at all. You’ll also come away loving the “Mountain”.

Click on the thumbnails or buttons above for images of the spectacular year 2000 bloom at Paradise, Mt. Rainier, with technical explanations.


Sunrise to Paradise, Ruth Kirk, University of Washington Press, 1999.

Hiking Mt. Rainier National Park, Heidi Schneider and Mary Skjelset, Falcon Publishing, 1999. The Trail Finder table cuts to the chase: Easy, moderate or strenous hikes to wildflowers.

Flora of Mt. Rainier National Park, David Biek,Oregon State University Press, 2000. All the Rainier plants in a comprehensive key.

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