Mt. Rainier Plays Peek-A-Boo For A Day : Battered Suitcase

7th Jul 2018
Day 1
Photo of Mt Rainier National Park, Washington, USA by Stephen Lee

While the Space Needle is the iconic sight for Seattle, Mt. Rainier is the icon for the state of Washington. In fact, despite Washington having many mountains, locals often refer to it as simply, "the mountain." If you can get the Space Needle and Mt. Rainier in the same picture, then you really have a classic Washington picture.

Unfortunately Mt. Rainier is not always as visible as we would like. The areas infamous rainy days often hides it from view. Even on sunny days the haze and pollution can distort the view. Locals might say, "The mountain is out," meaning that it's a good day to see Mt. Rainier.

Since Mt. Rainier is the most well known of Washington's three national parks, many visitors to the area will make the trek up to the mountain. Even at close range, though, the mountain may choose to hide itself from prying eyes. Here's my account of this phenomenon.

It was early July 2018 when we decided that we had not visited Mt. Rainier in some time. It seemed like a perfect sunny day to visit so we jumped in the car and took off. The trip to Mt. Rainier is not a short trip from our home as we live north of Seattle. While there are various entrances to the park, we were headed for the east entrance traveling through the town of Enumclaw and up through Cayuse Pass.

This was a different perspective of Mt. Rainier for us. On our previous few visits we had simply gone to Paradise, which is the main park area. Here there is a lodge, an information center, and some short hikes up the mountain. Entering from the east side meant we would see some different areas that we had not seen previously.

After we entered the park at the Stevens Canyon Entrance, our first stop was Box Canyon. Here one can look down into a deep canyon carved out by melting snow coming off the mountain. There's a short trail that visitors can walk along the river. It gives a view of the old stone bridge on the roadway. as well some views of the river from a wooden bridge. The stop comes just before a short tunnel carved out of the stone.

Photo of Mt. Rainier Plays Peek-A-Boo For A Day : Battered Suitcase by Stephen Lee
Photo of Mt. Rainier Plays Peek-A-Boo For A Day : Battered Suitcase by Stephen Lee

Continuing west we came to a viewpoint along the road where we could look down into Stevens Canyon. Deep in the canyon we could see a waterfall, Martha Falls. More spectacular was the Tatoosh Mountain range on the other side of the canyon. The were a lot of high fluffy clouds that day, and they added drama to the sky and the view of the mountains. Unfortunately it was clouds like this that would create a challenge later on.

One aspect of the park I wanted to check out was the wild flowers. I had hoped to see big fields of wild flowers, but I was sadly disappointed with that. There were no large meadows on this route. However, that doesn't mean I didn't see any flowers. There were a number of places along the side of the road where some were growing, and it was just a matter of finding a safe place to pull over so I could get a shot.

Our next stop was Reflection Lake. As the name suggests, this is where Mt. Rainier reflects on the surface of the lake, and one can get a great picture. However, that picture didn't happen for me. Those high fluffy clouds that I noted earlier were now hanging out over the top of the mountain. The peak was covered in clouds.

Photo of Mt. Rainier Plays Peek-A-Boo For A Day : Battered Suitcase by Stephen Lee
Photo of Mt. Rainier Plays Peek-A-Boo For A Day : Battered Suitcase by Stephen Lee

Since the clouds were hiding Mt. Rainier, we decided to walk around some. To the west of the lake we found a path that still had some snow on it that gave us some different views of the lake. There were also some beautiful wild lilies along this path. To the east we found a trail we thought might go all around the lake. Perhaps it did, but we came to a roaring stream with no bridge and decided not to try to cross it on the rocks. There were a lot of lilies along this trail also so I got some more pictures of them. We also got some nice views from here of the Tatoosh Range.

After our short hike, we settled back at our car to wait for the perfect photo op. We could see that the clouds were moving rather quickly so we thought if we waited a while, Miss Rainier would be revealed. The clouds were moving west to east so we would look at the clouds to the west to predict when there would be a break in the clouds. We would see a hole in the clouds and think the moment was coming. Unfortunately as the clouds continued to travel, those holes would fill in. By the time they got over the peak, the hole was very small revealing only a bit of the mountain, or it had disappeared altogether. We sat watching the clouds for some time waiting for the perfect moment; it never came.

Giving up on our quest for the perfect reflection picture, we finally moved on. We bypassed Paradise. Instead we continued on to Ricksecker Point. Here we stopped and had some great non-Rainier views of the park as well as views of the mountain. The clouds still covered most of the mountain, but as we watched, the clouds moved lower, and I finally got a decent picture of the mountain. I call it the skirted mountain as the clouds hang out around the base so it's not the full view, but at least the peak is visible. It was my best photo of the mountain for that day.

Having captured the photo, it was time to head home leaving through the western entrance of the park. While Mt. Rainier had played Peek-A-Boo with us all day, we had finally managed to get a peek of what was behind the clouds. Mission sort of accomplished, but it hadn't been easy. Perhaps next time she would reveal herself more fully to us.

If you would like to see the original post, Click here to go to the site at