Autumn Escapes in the Pacific Northwest

Q: Peak Wildflowers at Mt. Rainier National Park?

by Lauren Braden

in Camping and Outdoors

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Dear TripFinder,

Q: I am trying to decide between Ohanapecosh and Cougar Rock campgrounds for a reservation this summer.  I would like to be able to go view wildflowers towards the end of July. Is Paradise or Sunrise better for that and based on that which campground would you suggest?

– Mary S.

Dear Mary,

When do Mt. Rainier wildflowers reach their peak?At the end of July, both Paradise and Sunrise are likely to have beautiful fields of wildflowers. And both of these sides of the mountain (Sunrise on Rainier’s east-facing slope, Paradise on the west slope) are equally awesome for wildflowers. The “peak” for wildflowers (usually a two or three-week period) varies from year to year at each location and is dependent on a few factors, including the density of the winter snowpack and the spring and summer temperatures. Sunrise peaks earlier than Paradise, so on a typical year at the end of July, Sunrise may be peaking or nearing the end of its peak, while Paradise might be just getting the fireworks show started. 

If you reserve a campsite at Ohanapecosh campground, you’ll be in easy distance of both Sunrise and Paradise. That way, depending on how our snow year shakes out (at this point the snowpack is lower than average so wildflower peaks will be on the early side) you will be able to find out which place is better for wildflowers during your visit and go there. I think Ohanapecosh gives you more flexibility. I also think it’s a prettier campground set in a more beautiful landscape.

The hiker trip reports at Washington Trails Association are a great place to monitor the wildflower peaks when July gets here. You can also check the “currently blooming” section on Mt. Rainier’s website. If you end up visiting the Paradise area, check out our little guide to common wildflowers of Paradise.

Hope this helps! Enjoy your camping and hiking trip to Mt. Rainier!

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