Autumn’s Color Palette


I recently spent a day in Mount Rainier National Park to immerse myself in autumn’s color palette. The color intensity was off the scale! Perhaps this was because plants were already stressed from the unusually hot and dry summer the Pacific Northwest recently experienced. And then came September, with cooler than normal temperatures. I’m sure the irregular weather patterns played a part in the exceptionally blazing colors.

I spent part of the day hiking in the Tipsoo Lake area along Chinook Pass and then made my way down Cayuse Pass to the Stevens Canyon entrance of the Park. If you really want to take in the most color in the most scenic parts of the park, this is the way to go. I’ll start with images from the Tipsoo Lake area.



Next are images taken along Stevens Canyon Road, heading towards the Paradise Meadows area. If you look closely, notice the roadway along the side of the cliffs. That’s where I drove from to get to the current viewpoint.

And lastly, a few photos taken along Paradise Valley Road. This is the same road that passes by Paradise Meadows, the visitor center and the park lodge, continuing as a short, one-way loop around the Paradise River Valley and ends at the terminus of Stevens Canyon Road. Hang a right and you will quickly be at the main road leading to Paradise Meadows, once again. This short loop is an absolute must to not only get some fantastic views of the mountain, but it also offers fantastic viewing areas for more blazing, autumn color along the sides of the valley. There are plenty of parking areas along the side of the road to stop for picture taking.

I hope you have enjoyed my autumn images of the park. Keep in mind that the crowds at the park are still quite heavy, even on a weekday, with everyone wanting to see the change-of-season colors. Parking lots fill very quickly, and my advice to you would be to arrive at the park early in the morning. Try to avoid the weekend, if at all possible. Also, the region’s rainy season is knocking at our doorstep, which means the higher elevations could get some snow. Get out there now, before the weather makes its dramatic changes!


All images 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,
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6 Responses to Autumn’s Color Palette

  1. Gunta says:

    Looks like we may have followed in your footsteps. We also stopped at Rainier. Camped there overnight. My memory is bad on places we went, but I do remember getting up to Paradise and being a bit shocked at the development there. The scenics were marvelous though. Looks like you didn’t encounter any clouds. We had quite a bit. We were there 9/17-18. I’m pretty sure we took Stevens Canyon Road on the way out. That shot looking back at the road seems quite familiar.

    • Paradise Meadows is the most popular spot in the park. Everybody wants to go there, since the Paradise Lodge is there along with the visitor center. When they tore down the old, dome shaped visitor center many years ago, they built a large parking area in its place to accommodate visitors. It still isn’t enough space! Many are disappointed in the new visitor center. It is too small to accommodate the huge number of park visitors. The auditorium is a joke! I hope that someday they will expand and enlarge the auditorium. They should take example from the Mount St Helens Observatory auditorium that has a fantastic video show. Now, that is state of the art! Big and beautiful! And it’s not even a national park! And the North Cascades National Park visitor center has a nice, big auditorium as well that plays a magnificent video show. The only park in the state that doesn’t have an auditorium is Olympic National Park. I think they should, since that park covers so much territory and there is such a variety of area to explore. It would really go far to promote the park. But alas, national parks are in a financial crisis these days. And the smoky summer we had caused millions of dollars of lose to the parks.

  2. BriarCraft says:

    I was up at Paradise Sept 25th and it was wonderfully colorful. Many friendly people to chat with at the viewpoints, too. Since my old bones don’t like hiking, I especially appreciate you sharing the views you saw on foot.

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos! Yes, the color started a bit early this year. It is some of the best I have ever seen! We are so blessed to have so much surrounding beauty here! I have some physical issues as well, and I have to be careful not to overdo it.

  3. Sartenada says:

    I must say, that awesome landscapes. I really enjoyed this post. Thank You presenting them.

    Have a good day!

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