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Photography Hikes: Mount Rainier National Park

landscape with mountain

If you’re an avid photographer and hiker, Mount Rainier National Park is likely near the top of your “hiker’s wish list”. 

Mount Rainier itself is an icon of the Washington landscape. Standing at 14,410 feet tall, this is the largest and most glaciated peak in the Cascade Range, attracting thousands of tourists every year. 

But don’t worry, we’re not going to suggest you climb it! In Mount Rainier National Park, there are plenty of beautiful hikes that don’t require a single ice axe, and each one of them offers something a little different.

The Hiking Trail: Mount Rainier

Our personal favourite has to be the Skyline Trail. Beginning in Mount Rainier’s Paradise Park, this is a 2.3-mile hike that takes you through gorgeous green fields, all the way to Pebble Creek. 

For the more adventurous among you, you can then continue from here to Camp Muir, which involves ascending 2,900 feet of the Muir Snowfield. 

Difficult, for sure. But if you’re the kind of person who likes to show off their hiking photographs on Instagram, or maybe even turn them into an Instagram photo book, there’ll be no better opportunity to show off your skills.

Why It's Good

The entire hike, from Paradise Park to Camp Muir, is around 4.5 miles, so it’s sure to challenge you, but it’s also the best way to properly experience Mount Rainier National Park. 

You never know what weather you’re going to get here. In fact, it’s often said that Mount Rainier makes its own weather. But this hike gives you the perfect way to experience the park in all of its different forms. 

You’ll start in a vast, green meadow, filled with gorgeous wildflowers like the purple lupines and American bistorts. Then, the more you keep walking, you’ll notice the summery surroundings change into a winter wonderland. 

As you approach Camp Muir, you’ll be walking through inches of snow, surrounded by epic blue glaciers, rocky craters, and a view that has jumped straight out of a fantasy book. A lot of photographers question which is the best season for photography, and it’s not often that you can test out each one in a matter of a few hours. But this trail lets you do exactly that!

What to Look Out For

There are several animals to look out for during your hike, and what you see will depend on the time of year you choose to visit. In the summer, elks and black bears are known to prowl the woodlands near Paradise. In the winter, you’ll have more chances of spotting mule deer, cascade foxes, and coyotes. Here are some more of the best animals to look out for on the trail:

  • Hoary Marmot
  • Canada Jay
  • Mountain Goat
  • Pika
  • Porcupine
  • Beaver
  • Bobcat
  • Mountain Lion

Photography Tips

So many people enjoy Mount Rainier National Park every year, so you’re sure to be amongst other hikers, and you’ll get the gist of the hike very quickly. That being said, there are a couple of things you should know before you set off.

  • First, Pack Light

We’ve done a few blogs on the best hiking spots in the US now, but this is probably the most challenging. Remember, for a good portion of the hike, you’re ascending a couple of thousand feet in tricky conditions. Make sure you pack light, with only the essentials in your backpack – hiking survival gear and, of course, your smartphone!

  • Make the Climb to Camp Muir

The climb to Camp Muir is a little tricky, and it might look daunting, but it’s seriously worth it. This isn’t just about the photographs you’ll upload to our photo book maker – although they will look stunning – it’s about the experience itself. And this is certainly one you’ll never forget.

Photography Challenges

During the hike, there are some challenges you should be aware of too. The first comes in the form of the reflection lakes.

  • Test Out Your Reflection Photography

In Paradise, there are spots known as “reflection lakes” – prime locations for photographers looking for the perfect reflection photograph. Here, you can take a picture of a beautiful lake, surrounded by woodland and wildflowers, and with the magnificent Mount Rainier reflected on the surface. It’s a little tricky to get right, but again, it’s worth it.

  • Master Your Panoramic Skills

If you do decide to climb to Camp Muir, you’re going to have a lot of different photography options. One of the most effective, however, is a panoramic photograph that encapsulates as much of the park as possible. In the wind and snow, this can be a little tricky, but it’s the only way to capture the majesty of this beautiful place in one breathtaking picture.


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