The mild and cool summer has delayed wildflower blooms in the Cascade mountains, including some higher upper elevation areas that may never seen them break out of the ground.
However, the recent days of warm sunshine has allowed the snow on the meadows at Mount Rainier to rapidly recede, and the wildflowers are now starting to make an appearance.
Better late than never say those who have waited for most of the summer to head to the hills to view the beautiful booms of wildflowers.
Blooms are popping up along park roadsides, tucked into the rock crevices and hillside cliffs, especially along Stevens Canyon and at Sunrise.
In the Sunrise area the snow has melted more rapidly than at Paradise, and the meadows are a lush green and wildflowers are abundant.
Other specific areas where wildflowers are prevalent are on the Snow Lake Trail, Crystal Lake Trail and Shriner Peak Trail.
Trail conditions in the subalpine zone have improved notably with the warmer weather. Hikers are accessing the Wonderland Trail and most park trails are completely snow free.
Updates on trail conditions are posted on the Mount Rainier National Park website.
Some snow patches still exist, and visitors should use caution where trails are still snow covered. Park visitors are reminded to avoid walking or sliding on the thin snow patches in the meadows, as it can cause irreparable damage to the fragile flowers and meadows, who struggle to survive in this harsh environment.
The Mount Rainier National Park offers free weekend shuttle rides into the park from Ashford, and from Longmire on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
All park roads are open and visitor operations are in full swing inside the park. Construction/repair work is occurring on the Stevens Canyon Road, with minor delays through Labor Day.
On Sept. 6, the Stevens Canyon Road will be closed entirely just west of the Grove of the Patriarchs to just east of the popular Backbone Ridge viewpoint and will remain closed through Oct. 30, the contract ending date.
Visitors will be able to access the Reflection Lakes, Box Canyon and Backbone Ridge areas and adjacent trailheads from the west during the 2011 closure.
Guided interpretive walks and programs as well as Junior Ranger programs are being conducted daily at Longmire, Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh, Sunrise/White River and Paradise.
For details, visit the Mount Rainier National Park website or at a visitor center for current schedules and program topics.
Webcams showing current views of park areas can also be found on the Mount
Rainier web page.
At Paradise, the historic Paradise Inn and Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center offer lodging, dining, gift shops, exhibits, and visitor information. On the mountain’s north side, the Sunrise Visitor Center and Sunrise Day Lodge are also open providing visitor information, new exhibits, a snack bar and gift shop.
At Longmire, the National Park Inn is open for dining, lodging and also has a gift shop. The Longmire Museum is also open daily providing visitor information.
For more information visit the Mount Rainier Visitor website.