Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier awash in wildflowers

August 16, 2010, 12:56 pm

The names are nearly as colorful as the blossoms themselves: Cascade aster, Indian paintbrush, glacier lily and white mountain heather.

They are just some of the wildflowers coloring the subalpine meadows at Mount Rainier National Park. Thanks to late snowmelt, August will be the prime time to take a hike to see the park’s famed wildflowers in 2010.

“We had 140 percent of the normal snowpack in June, that’s why the wildflowers are late this year,” said Brian Dempsey, interpretive ranger at Sunrise.

“I would expect (the wildflowers) to be pretty good this year,” said Lou Whiteaker, the park’s plant ecologist. “The moisture was not hugely above average, but it came late. So it’s melting out later, so there should be a lot of moisture. That means it should be a really good wildflower display this year.”

When the meadows at places such as Spray Park, Sunrise and Paradise reach their peak, they will be filled with the violet blooms of broadlead lupine and red and orange paintbrush. Later in the season, visitors will able to see flowers such as mountain bog gentian. A favorite of Whiteaker’s, it has a striking dark blue flower.

In addition to the variety of colors and multitude of flowers, they are popular because they can be seen by anyone visiting the park. A drive to Tipsoo Lake on state Route 410 later this month will provide easy access, while a hike to Grand Park on the north side of the park makes for a longer day hike.

For some recommended wildflower hikes at the park, visit thenewstribune.com.