Blooming Times - A Discussion:

The most asked question when internet searches find this site is "when are flowers out around Mt. Rainier?" Not what, not where, but when. The tendency is to want to provide a specific answer, i.e. to present a table that would clearly show that if you go here at these precise times you'll be guaranteed to see these plants in bloom. Unfortuately, as most of us know, this is not possible particularly at Mount Rainier. The flowering season of Rainier's plants is highly dependent not only on the extent of the winter's snowfall but also on the duration of the winter. A year with a moderate, or normal, snowfall but a lingering winter, or late spring, can delay blooming. This, of course, is most critical in the higher elevations of the subalpine and alpine zones.

Blooming times are more consistent in the forest zone which has naturally experienced more rain and less snow. Some plants bloom early there and can only be seen then, e.g. Yellow Skunk Cabbage, Fairly Slipper, Arctic Coltsfoot (var. palmatus) and Western Trillium. Lowland hikes such as the Carbon River Rain Forest, Green Lake, Paul Peak, Trail of the Shadows at Longmire, Silver Falls Loop, and the Westside Road provide good early wildflower hiking. Some plants are thought only to bloom early, such as the Pasqueflower (Pasque for 'Easter'), however they may be found sending up shoots next to melting snow patches in August. Conversely some plants will only be seen in bloom quite late, such as the Mountain Bog Gentian. The trail notes page for each flower on this site provides a specific date the photo of the featured flower was taken so they can be of some assistance on determining the state of growth.

Once into the hiking season the best resource for information on trail conditions/snow cover and getting a sense of the state of blooming in the subalpine and alpine zones is the Park Service website/trail conditions, or call one of the wilderness information centers. The Park Service website is increasing its information on widflowers and blooming conditions (see: http://www.nps.gov/mora/naturescience/wildflowers.htm). Also check the "freshest trip reports" (under "find a hike") on the Washington Trails Association site (http://www.wta.org). Your search can be orgainized by region including Mt. Rainier. These are written by hikers who have just been there and often include comments on flowers.

 

 

 

 

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