Drama in the Mountains

I recently paid a visit to Mount Rainier National Park. I purchase an annual pass each year, since I live relatively close by. The entrance fee just went up $5 to $20 per vehicle, and next year the fee will go up to $25. Just west of me, Olympic National Park’s entrance fees will be going up to $20, as well, on June 1st.

The weather was a mix of clouds and sun when I visited the park but, as it turned out, the mountain did not want to show itself. This can often happen, as clouds tend to form around the summit of Mount Rainier. They can make for some very interesting formations, though. Since the clouds were present, I decided to take photographs of waterfalls and rivers in the park. It was a weekday, too, and I pretty much had the park to myself. It is so nice and quiet when there isn’t a crowd of people and vehicles. It’s much more inspiring this way and thought provoking. I can really get close to nature without the din. Here are a few photos of Narada Falls. One has to walk down a short, steep trail to view the falls head on. Otherwise, one sees only the top of the falls from the parking area. The falls plunges 176 ft and fans out into a nice, wide veil near the bottom.



Narada Falls is part of the Paradise River that runs through the national park. Here are a few images of the river.



Here are some scenic images of the Nisqually Valley from an overlook area. This is before the drama begins to unfold. Notice that there is some blue sky.


A sudden hail storm appeared out of nowhere and I had to wait it out in my car. Afterwards, the drama began to unfold in the valley and lot of low clouds hung over the valley and made for some fantastic imagery.





A Western Jay paid a visit. They hop around so fast and don’t stay in one spot very long, and so I was lucky to get a few images of him.



And then the drama intensified. Thicker, darker clouds rolled in. I felt a sudden shift in the wind along with a drop in temperature. I instinctively knew that something was afoot. And then I heard thunder. All I could think of was getting back into my car and driving down the mountain as quick as I could. Here is one of the last images I took before the storm hit. Luckily, I managed to stay ahead of the storm as I drove down to lower altitudes. Once out of the park, I was back in the sunshine.


In case you’re wondering if I ever caught sight of the mountain inside the park, this is all I could see—the bottom portion of the mountain—the rest was in the clouds.


All photos property of Peggy A Thompson

About northwestphotos

A long time resident of Washington State, located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest USA. I enjoy regional travel, exploring all the wondrous, natural settings that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. If you get a chance, visit my Northwestphotos Zazzle store, http://www.zazzle.com/northwestphotos.
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8 Responses to Drama in the Mountains

  1. Gunta says:

    That’s some pretty amazing weather and drama for sure. The images are very dramatic.

    • Yes, that was the first time I experienced severe weather in the mountains. But, it sure as heck was an exciting experience and the sudden change in weather provided surrealistic images with the low clouds. I love those moments, although I honestly have to admit I was a bit scared.

  2. Magnificent shots- and yes, surreal in terms of the mood of the weather. That’s a different kind of jay. We only get blue and gray jays in this part of the continent.

  3. BriarCraft says:

    When I have visited Rainier, it has always been from the south side, through Morton, so I very much enjoyed seeing what you showed here. I especially liked the wispy clouds clinging to the slopes and your shot of the Nisqually Valley with the dead snag. The waterfall was great, too. Heck, there isn’t a photo I don’t like.

    I, too, have a difficult time capturing a Steller’s. It usually involves hiding behind a tree trunk or shooting through a window. So good job – you got 2 sharp shots!

    You proved what I have heard – that Rainier makes its own weather.

    About the entrance fees, I believe one can still get an annual pass for all federal parks for $80 and seniors should definitely purchase a lifetime pass for just $10.

    Thanks for giving me a relaxing and scenic break from planting my garden!

    • Thank you for your comments. I, too, usually visit the park from the south side, from Tacoma. So glad you enjoyed the photos! As always, I tell people that photos don’t do half the justice of what is actually viewed in person. Thank you for mentioning about the other park passes that are available. I am looking forward in the near future to purchasing the senior pass. That is one of the best bargains around! With much of the snow quickly melting at Paradise, I would suspect the Glacier Lilies and Avalanche Lilies will be making their graceful appearances shortly, if not already. Have a pleasant week!

  4. bluebrightly says:

    I love it when clouds obscure parts of mountains – even if it’s most or all of the mountain, it’s often so interesting. Sounds like an exciting visit to Rainier.

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