Summer at Mt. Rainier | Landscape Photography

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

For as long as I can remember, Mt. Rainier has been a huge part of my life - from growing up exploring its trails to cheering on my dad and sister as they climbed to its summit to seeing it in all its glory from my first home. Rainier will always be awe-inspiring, mysterious, terrifying, and beautiful.


But until yesterday, I had never visited as a photographer. Which is SUCH. A. SHAME! So, needless to say, I was so happy to be back with camera in hand.

The main reason I finally made the trek down to Rainier was to scout locations for an upcoming photo excursion. I've never gone on a trip with the sole purpose of photographing nature, so I'm really excited. I decided a few weeks back that I wanted to journey over for wildflower season. For those of you that don't know, there's a super short period between late July and mid-August where all of the wildflowers explode around the national park. Well, not explode literally, but you know what I mean. It looks like someone literally took a paint brush of the most vibrant colors and splashed it all over a canvas.


Or so I've heard. I've never seen it myself.


Which is exactly why I am changing that this year! And I am so excited!


I recently purchased a Subaru Outback (like any good PNW-native) so that I could take it camping in rugged locations. As a solo female camper, I just don't feel comfortable in a tent (maybe someday that'll change, but I'm paranoid as all get out). The ability to camp in my car gives me freedom to explore all I want on my own, and I could not be happier about it!


Anyways, I decided to go scout the locations I want to shoot at later in the summer. And it. was. glorious! Even though it wasn't peak wildflower season, there were still plenty starting to bloom.

Picture Frame Falls above and Louise Lake below.

I entered the park at the Paradise entrance around 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, July 4th. I figured the park would be packed already given the holiday and weather, but was pleasantly surprised to find nobody in line at the ranger station yet. As I made my way up to Paradise, I only saw a few cars. Although it was fantastic being basically alone on the mountain, it was completely foggy. Visibility was ZERO. I literally would not have known I was in the mountains, let alone at Mt. Rainier. You couldn't see ANYTHING. I was super sad.

But I decided I would keep trying to scout locations. So, I kept going past Paradise, and continued around to the south east side of the mountain where I thought it might be less cloudy.


Reflection Lakes and Tipsoo Lake are the two main points I want to shoot at in August, so I stopped there. Reflection Lakes is well-know for being gorgeous at sunrise and Tipsoo Lake looks incredible at sunset. My goal is to head up to Tipsoo after work on a Friday, shoot sunset and some astro-photographs and then over to Reflection Lakes to spend the night so I can get up bright and early to shoot sunrise.


Even though I went mid-morning to scout, it was still unbelievably gorgeous. The clouds cleared up suddenly, and I was staring at a breathtaking view of Tipsoo Lake and Mount Rainier.

I was so taken by the view in front of me, I almost didn't turn around. But I'm so glad I did. Little Tipsoo Lake resides just on the other side of the road, and is definitely an unappreciated little gem. I walked over there and saw a field of wildflowers starting to take off.



Anyways, I'm beyond excited to come back here in August! I'll be sure to share all the details and photos from my trip. But in the meantime, enjoy the rest of my collection from yesterday!


Let me know if there's anywhere else I should visit in August while I'm at Rainier!








Madeleine Wilson is a Seattle, WA based natural light wedding and engagement photographer.

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