Words simply cannot describe the magic and the beauty of Mount Rainier in the summer with wildflowers in bloom. It’s simply the most magical national park ever! The combination of wildflower-filled meadows and spectacular views of snow capped mountains everywhere you look is truly like a paradise. Here are my picks for the best places to see wildflowers at Mt Rainier National Park. These spots are also very accessible and are great even for those with limited time, with kids, or those who can’t do more strenuous hikes. You will not be disappointed with even a short trip here! If you’re planning a trip to Mt Rainier National Park, you may also be interested in my new post on Best Easy Hikes with Amazing Views at Mt Rainier!
All photos taken by me and my husband Ken. Photo gear details below!
p.s. I recently started a YouTube channel! Please give me a follow there if you love gardens, nature & flowers too. 🌸
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When Do Wildflowers Bloom at Mount Rainier National Park?
In general, wildflower season at Mount Rainier National Park is from late July to mid-August. But since wildflowers are not completely predictable (they are wild after all!), it’s best to be flexible with your schedule and expectations. You can check the park’s wildflower status page on their website for updates before you start your trip. And since the season only lasts a few weeks, you can expect some crowds also eager to not miss out!
The Best Places to See Wildflowers at Mount Rainier National Park
Here are my picks for the best places to see wildflowers at Mount Rainier National Park! These must be among the most beautiful places on Earth!
1. Reflection Lakes
My top pick for the best place to see wildflowers at Mount Rainier is Reflection Lakes. It’s also my pick for the best place to visit in the park overall! It may not have the largest concentration of wildflowers, but because of the stunning views of Mt Rainier behind the lake, the crystal clear lake reflections (when the waters are still), and the magical morning mists, this is my favorite spot overall. I remember so clearly the first time I saw this view and feeling as if I had walked into a magical other-worldly place that few people are lucky enough to experience.
Both mornings and sunsets here are breathtaking, but I have a preference for mornings because I just love the morning mists from the lakes, and because there tends to be less mosquitoes and less people in the mornings! Ken and I came here multiple times during our trip.
There’s street parking right in front of the lake, so it’s super accessible with no hiking involved. Make sure to walk over to the smaller lake to the east of the main lake also. There are many photo opportunities at these lakes, and the meadow in between has wildflowers also!
2. Skyline Loop Trail to Myrtle Falls
This popular trail starting at the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center is filled with stunning mountain views and fields of wildflowers next to the paved trail. Prepare for your jaws to drop almost as soon as you start the hike! The hike to Myrtle Falls is easy and paved, approximately 1 mile from the Visitor Center. The park handout says it takes 30 minutes, but if you stop often to take lots of pictures like I did, you could easily spend a lot more time there. We did this hike every evening after dinner when we stayed 3 nights at Paradise Inn, which is right next to the trail!
The entire Skyline Loop Trail is 5.5 miles (4.5 hrs round trip) and features amazing mountain-top views, but for an easy and pleasant wildflower hike with amazing mountain scenery, this short hike to Myrtle Falls is hard to beat.
The trail starts at the Visitor Center. There’s a large parking lot there, but please note that the lot tends to fill up on weekends.
3. Paradise Meadows Trails West of the Visitor’s Center
My third pick is an area that’s sort of a hidden gem since it’s not nearly as crowded as the other places, but it had the most wildflowers of all the places we visited in the park! The group of linked Paradise Meadows Trails west of the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center feature subalpine meadows full of wildflowers, views of Mount Rainier and Nisqually Glacier, and tons of wildlife.
These trails start just to the left (west) of the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center, starting with the Avalance Lily Trail (named after the flower that is among the first to bloom along the edges of melting snow). The beginning part of this trail is somewhat steep, but levels out after that. From there you can choose either the Nisqually Vista Trail or the Deadhorse Creek Trail, which eventually connect with the Skyline Loop Trail. The 1.5 mile Nisqually Vista Trail offers viewpoints overlooking the Nisqually Glacier and Mount Rainier in addition to wildflower meadows. The park website has a description and map of these trails here.
My favorite part of this area is along the Deadhorse Creek trail, where we happened upon a fairytale-like forested area with meadows filled with wildflowers along a gurgling creek with Mount Rainier in the background. We were serenaded by birds and saw a number of critters darting by. It was so magical, I wished we could’ve stayed there all day! (Stay tuned – I will try to upload a video clip of the area!)
4. Tipsoo Lake
Tipsoo Lake is another very scenic place for wildflowers, lake views and mountain views. It’s a one-hour drive from the Reflection Lakes and Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center area. You’ll be rewarded with a very pretty lakeside setting with views of snow-capped Mt Rainier in the background. If you’re limited in time, the loop around the lake and the surrounding area are very close to the parking lot, easy, and have paths surrounded by wildflowers in the summer. If you have more time, the 3.5-mile Naches Peak Loop takes around 2 hours and offers wonderful views from higher up. We’ve seen some stunning sunsets pictures here and we hope to come back to take some ourselves!
5. The Sunrise Area
The Sunrise area is another popular destination for park visitors, especially for those looking for stunning views from high up. It’s located in the northeastern part of the park and is about 1.5 hrs from the Paradise area. Since it’s 1,000 feet higher in elevation than the Paradise area, the views and terrain here are quite different and the hikes tend to be longer and more strenuous. I would recommend visiting this area after you have visited the attractions in the Paradise area and Lake Tipsoo.
The wildflowers in the Sunrise area tend to peak a week or two before the wildflowers in the Paradise area. When we visited at the end of July, we actually didn’t see many wildflowers during our short hike, although we did see some stunning mountain views.
Popular hikes in the area include the 2.5-mile Emmons Vista Trail with mountain and glacier views, the 2.5-mile Sourdough Ridge trail, the longer 7.7-mile Berkeley Park trail (which some consider to be the best spot for flowers in the park), and the 5.6-mile Fremont Lookout trail with the Instagram popular two-story frame cabin.
My New YouTube Channel!
I recently started a new YouTube channel! If you love nature, flowers and gardens as much as I do, make sure to give me a follow there! 💛 I’ve included one of my videos below. 😊🌸🌿
Tiny ducklings learn to swim in a quack-tastic adventure!
Watch adorable ducklings take over a lily pond with giant lily pads as they learn to swim! 🐣🐤🌸
What Type of Wildflowers Are at Mount Rainier?
There are hundreds of species of wildflowers at Mount Rainier in the summer! Some of the species we saw were: pink Rosy Spirea (see featured top pic and first Reflection Lakes pic below) and purple-pink Elephant’s Head at Reflection Lakes; magenta Paintbrush, yellow Broadleaf Arnica, and white American Bistort along the Skyline Trail and other Paradise area meadows; and purple Lupines, scarlet Paintbrush and white daisies at Tipsoo Lake.
The park website has a useful section on identifying wildflowers by color.
Mount Rainier Travel Tips
1. Check Current Park Alerts & Conditions
Before you head for Mount Rainier, make sure to check the current park alerts & conditions at the park’s website. The park website also has a useful page on the wildflowers bloom status and what’s currently in bloom.
2. Stay at the Paradise Inn!
I highly recommend staying at Paradise Inn inside the Park. It’s only a few minutes from the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center and the location right next to the Paradise trails can’t be beat! It’s only a few minutes drive to Reflection Lakes and several waterfalls. In addition, their restaurant and café are quite good – much better than the grab and go options at the Visitor Center. Another bonus is their parking lot for guests, which is so convenient when the Visitor Center parking lot fills up!
Booking a room at the hotel can be hard, but check back for cancellations 1-2 weeks before your trip. That’s how we managed to book a room for 3 nights!
3. Visit During the Weekday if Possible
Mount Rainier is very popular during the summers, especially on weekends. Visiting during the weekdays is definitely better, otherwise you may encounter a long line at the entrance and full parking lots at visitor centers. The park is busiest from 10 am – 2 pm, so I recommended arriving between 8-9:00 am to avoid crowds, or even earlier for the best morning views at Reflection Lakes!
4. There’s No Cell Service!
There is extremely limited cellular phone service throughout the park, so be prepared to not have cell signal while you’re inside the park. Wifi is available at the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center.
5. Plan For Both Hot & Cool Weather
Summer weather at Mount Rainier can be unpredictable and all over the place. The park is known for fog that can sometimes stay around and hide mountain views all day. Or it can start off cool in the morning but become too hot for hiking by late morning, which we did experience before. Be ready with both warm and cool weather clothing as it can get quite cool in the evenings. I was happy to have brought a puffer jacket for evening walks. It’s best to be flexible with alternate plans in case of unexpected weather.
6. Beware of the Mosquitoes!!
It really is a paradise at Mount Rainier in the summer, but apparently the mosquitoes love this place too! The key is to apply mosquito repellent OFTEN – at least every two hours. (I recently started using Repel insect repellent made with lemon eucalyptus oil and it’s been effective for me!) I recommend that you reapply every time you go near a body of water, such as Reflection Lakes or Tipsoo Lake, regardless of when you last applied it. Even with repellent though, you won’t be able to keep them all away, so make sure to bring lots of anti-itch cream! Wearing long-sleeved tops or jackets and long pants will also help, especially the wind-resistant type.
Having a slip-over mesh screen for your rear car seat windows is also useful if you want to leave your window open for air but don’t want to let the mosquitoes in. It’s also great for blocking the heat during hot days. I recently used one for another road trip through the Pacific Northwest and loved it SO much for blocking the hot sun in the back seat!
7. A plug-in electric cooler is great for road trips. We use a plug-in electric cooler for all of our summer road trips to keep food and drinks cold so that we don’t have to stop and look for food in between destinations.
My camera & video gear
Photo tip: You can get a free trial or extend your current subscription of an Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan with the purchase of a Seagate external hard drive!
Most of the photos on this blog through 2022 were taken with a Nikon D750 (latest model D780 shown above).
My favorite lens ever. This Nikon 105mm lens is amazing for portrait & flower photography. An 85mm lens would be great also.
Thank you for stopping by my blog! I hope you found this post useful, and I hope you have a wonderful day!
Hi, I’m Pansy!
Hello, thanks for stopping by! I’m Pansy, California-based travel blogger, photographer and lover of ALL the pretty flowers! You may notice that most of my travels, photography & DIY center around flowers and nature! 🌸🌼🌿
I recently started a YouTube channel where I feature walks through beautiful gardens, parks & flower fields! Make sure to follow me there if you love flowers & gardens! 😊