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.
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