Snow scene with pine trees and mountain
Friendly Friday,  Landscape,  Travel galleries,  Washington State

Gallery: a snowy walk in Paradise

If you call a place ‘Paradise’ it had better be somewhere special! Luckily this area of Mount Rainier National Park really does live up to the name bestowed on it by Virinda Longmire in 1885. She was the daughter-in-law of explorer James Longmire (who lends his name to another area of the park) and when she first saw this spot, carpeted with wildflowers, she is said to have exclaimed, ‘Oh, what a paradise!’

Paradise lies on the south side of Mount Rainier, at a height of 5,400 feet. Visiting the second week in July we still encountered snow on the ground here; and that isn’t unusual, as it is normally snow-free only from mid/late July to September.

The Nisqually Vista Trail

This trail is named for the Nisqually Glacier, the birthplace of the Nisqually River on the slopes of Mount Rainier. It is a loop trail with a viewpoint overlooking the glacier at its furthest point.

Pine trees and mountain
The start of the trail

The 1.2 mile walk is described as ‘easy’ but I was struggling a little on that trip with a bad knee, so it felt like a bit of a challenge, especially as snow still covered the trail in places. I managed it however, and was very pleased that I did, as it was a wonderful walk.

There were perhaps fewer wildflowers than I had expected, as there was still too much snow for many of them to have bloomed yet, but those we did see (primarily the delicate Avalanche Lily, always the first to flower) were beautiful.

Nisqually Glacier views

The views of the glacier once reached were awesome. It is one of the largest on Mount Rainier and has retreated and advanced several times; the general trend, however (according to the NPS), has been retreat. From the viewpoint we could see the point where glacier becomes mountain stream, and also a waterfall on the far side of the valley.

The walk took us considerably longer than the 45 minutes the park website suggests; partly because I had to take the snowy stretches slowly but mainly because we stopped to take so many photos.

We also met a couple of rangers at one point, who stopped to tell us something about the various flowers and give us a descriptive leaflet on them, which proved very helpful. I do love the US National Parks system!

In this week’s Friendly Friday Photo Challenge Amanda reminds us of the joys of taking photos ‘whilst walking’. As always when I travel, I am very happy to have these images that take me back to Paradise and our walk among the snow drifts and early wildflowers.

I visited Mount Rainier NP in 2017


    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Malcolm – as I said, it took us considerably longer than that, what with stopping to take photos, talking to people we met along the way (as well as the rangers there was a Californian guy we had a bit of a chat with) and negotiating the snowy patches in unsuitable trainers 😆

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Yes, the parks are wonderful and it would be such a shame if lack of funding damaged them in any way. For us they are one of the best things about touring the US – we usually build our trips around a couple of them 🙂

  • Tina Schell

    You are so right about the National Park service people Sarah – they are always so friendly and so helpful. Your images are beautiful, although I’ll wait for spring!!!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Yes, we’ve found them to be so for sure 🙂 And you have some amazing scenery! But as to waiting for spring, as I said above these photos were taken in mid July!!

  • mtncorg

    Avalanche lilies can also = mosquitos! Hopefully not in your case. Many of my hikes in such cases have had me beating the suggested times by a considerable amount – the result of running to avoid the swarms! The Nisqually Glacier is amazing!

    Paradise versus Sunrise on the northeast side? Different glaciers, huge crowds at both. Look for my post tomorrow – I will speed up its publication for you 😉

    • Sarah Wilkie

      We didn’t have any problems with mosquitos here – I would remember as I’m the first person to get bitten if they’re around. Maybe it was too cool for them? And although we found the main part of Paradise busy, on this trail we only met a handful of other people – the aforementioned rangers, a couple whom we talked to at the vista (who liked the trail so much they were going around for a second loop) and a guy we got talking to at another point who was hiking alone. A real contrast to our walk to Myrtle Falls in the afternoon, which was very busy – but still worth doing 🙂

      We didn’t get to Sunrise (too many places, too little time!) so I’ll be interested to see anything you can share from there. The day after our stay in Paradise we drove the Stevens Canyon Road, but we didn’t see a lot as the weather was a complete contrast to this, with fog and a little drizzle 🙁

  • starship VT

    This article brings nature so close that I could almost feel the freshness of the snowy mountain air! So glad you were able to complete this walk. I think your superb photos are solid proof that the effort was worth it and hopefully your knee was no worse for the wear!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks for reading Sylvia 🙂 Yes, the mountain air here was wonderful! And my knee was fine afterwards – a short break for an ice cream at the visitor centre and I was ready for a second (easier) walk 😆

  • Forestwood

    It was delightful seeing your snowy walk and imagine seeing these stunning vistas with the naked eye. Do they ski up on the mountain? It does indeed look like a paradise.

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