PhotoTripUSA Publishing
   T H E   S H O W C A S E    

Home     Buy    Services    Resources    Contact

Magnificent Mt. Rainier - by Ron Warfield

NOTE: this exhibit appeared in September 1999. Click here to visit the current showcase.

All other exhibits: Click here to access

Please click on one of the following thumbnails to see a larger image. Use the Back button in your browser to return to this screen and select another image.
Inspiration Point

Mount Rainier from Inspiration Point

The Mountain soars to 14,411 feet above sea level. A hundred years ago, John Muir became so excited by this view at Inspiration Point that he decided then & there to climb the Mountain. Today, photographers from around the world arrive at this viewpoint and spend hours gazing up at the icy bulk of the greatest peak in the Cascade Range.

Edith Creek Basin

Heather Meadows in Edith Creek Basin

Mount Rainier is legendary for its profuse subalpine wildflower displays. Photographers focus on the meadows of Paradise, but flower meadows encircle The Mountain in a nearly unbroken 94-mile wreath. Some of the pink heather communities in Edith Creek Basin have been growing continuously for over 6,000 years.

Reflection Lake

Reflection Lake

Mount Rainier looms over its own reflection at photographers' mecca - Reflection Lakes. A profusion of wildflowers rings the lakes and provides a colorful foreground for photographs. Fragrant lupines sweeten the air as photographers vie for just the right shot. Early morning light seems best for capturing the many moods of this special place.

Mount Rainier Reflections

Mount Rainier Reflections

Massive Mount Rainier is often seen reflected in small ephemeral pools such as this one near the summit of Plummer Peak. Most photographers scramble up to this location before dawn to catch the first light on The Mountain. The warm light of evening later in the season also yields interesting results.

Myrtle Falls

Cascades Above Myrtle Falls

The prodigious snowfalls at Mount Rainier give rise to magical waterfalls when the snows melt. This cascade in Edith Creek Basin near Paradise provides ready foregrounds for Mount Rainier photographs both early and late in the day.

Edith Creek Basin

Edith Creek Basin

Fleabanes and lupines carpet the hillsides in Edith Creek Basin. The blooming season peak extends from mid-July through mid-August as waves of floral color wash across the Paradise Meadows.

Edith Creek Basin

Glacier Lilies in Edith Creek Basin

One of the first flowers to bloom as the snows recede is the yellow glacier lily. The glacier lilies give way, after a week of riotous bloom, to the avalanche lilies which bathe the Paradise Meadows in a sea of white stars.

Deadhorse Creek

Lupines at Deadhorse Creek

In mid-summer, lupines blanket the slopes of Paradise Meadows with a fragrant purple palette. This scene at the head of Deadhorse Creek accents the great bulk of Mount Rainier in early morning. Photographers are challenged to capture the bright icy Mountain and the contrasting foregrounds in the same exposure.

Nisqually Vista Trail

Nisqually Vista in Winter

Nisqually Vista Trail at Paradise offers inspiring winter scenes. Late afternoon provides strong sidelighting for rime ice on subalpine firs and gives definition to the icy dome of Mount Rainier.


Sunset at Longmire

Winter evenings at Longmire, on the southwest flank of Mount Rainier, give that magic hour lighting on The Mountain. Winter storms bring winds to mobilize the snow and give a Kirlian light effect to the upper mountain.

Nisqually River Valley

Vine Maple - Nisqually River Valley

In the lower forests around Mount Rainier, vine maples carry heavy loads of mosses and lichens. Sunlight, filtered through leafy canopies, glows from every angle. This scene along the Nisqually River Valley typifies the variety of vegetation found within the old-growth forest.

Lenticular Cloud over Mount Rainier

Lenticular Cloud over Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier makes its own weather. This spectacular altocumulus stacked lenticular cloud portends the approach of a very wet winter storm. Moisture carried in air currents continually forms new cloud on the windward side of the Mountain as the air rises to pass over the obstruction. The cloud evaporates on its leeward side as the air drops and warms after clearing the Mountain. Hence, the lens (or flying saucer) shaped cloud hovers over the mountain as the winds flow through.

Pinnacle Peak

Pinnacle Peak at Sunset

Pinnacle Peak provides rock-climbing opportunities for visitors and a focal point for photographers in the Tatoosh Range. Its craggy summit is composed of erosion resistant welded-tuff, a very hard volcanic rock formed when ancient volcanoes spewed volumes of hot pumice and debris over the landscape. The individual lumps of pumice were hot enough to remelt when they fell back to earth. Sunset brings out the warm ocher colors in this and other Tatoosh Range peaks.

Van Trump Park

Van Trump Park - Evening

Buttercups and anemones herald the first wave of floral color in the early summer at Van Trump Park, one of the sub-alpine meadows on the south side of The Mountain. Photographers find a great variety of subject material on the steep trail to this lovely scene: Comet Falls leaps 320 feet over two impressive precipices, old-growth Douglas-fir forests give way to lush subalpine meadows, and mountain goats often cavort in the upper reaches of the Van Trump meadows.

Spray Park

Spray Park Sunset Reflection

Sunset highlights Mount Rainier, reflected in a snow meltwater pool at Spray Park on the northwest side of the Mountain. Mid-July brings carpets of avalanche lilies (and mosquitoes) to Spray Park as the snowbanks recede. Photographers are spurred on in their trek to this scene by spectacular Spray Falls, a splashing cascade befitting its name.

Note: For best viewing, set your monitor to High Color or True Color. These images have been prepared with a Gamma of 2.2, which is typical of Windows monitor. If you are a Macintosh user, use the sRGB calibrated profile in the Color section of your Monitors & Sounds control panel.

Copyright Notice: All images featured in this showcase are Copyright © Ronald G. Warfield, all rights reserved. These images are protected by United States and international copyright laws and may not be used or reproduced without permission in writing. For licensing information, or to order prints, please contact Ronald G. Warfield at:

About the Exhibit:

Mount Rainier National Park in western Washington State, preserves some of the best of nature's scenic treasures. This year, 1999, marks the Centennial of this, the fifth oldest national park. Mount Rainier is described as an arctic island in a temperate sea of coniferous forest. The 14,411 foot Mountain, named for Rear Admiral Peter Rainier of the Royal British Navy, shoulders the largest single peak glacial system in the contiguous United States. Glaciers and permanent ice fields mantle 34 square miles of the Mountain.

The Mountain projects nearly 3 miles into the atmosphere and affects the flow of moisture-laden storms from the Pacific Ocean. As the storm systems rise to pass over the Mountain, fantastic cloud formations swirl around the summit. The Mountain, in a sense, makes its own weather to the delight, and sometimes chagrin, of photographers. World record snowfalls blanket the park each winter season, making a monochromatic wonderland for photographers.

When the snowbanks melt in July and August, the Mountain is ringed by a 94-mile wreath of the most luxuriant subalpine flowers to be found anywhere. The meadows of Paradise, Sunrise, and Tipsoo Lake are legendary for their profusion and variety. Successive waves of floral color wash over the meadows as the season advances. Photographers flock from around the planet to capture the beauty.

One hundred years ago, the old-growth Douglas fir, western redcedar, and western hemlock forests extended from the base of Mount Rainier all the way to the shores of Puget Sound. Now, Mount Rainier National Park contains spectacular representative samples of this ancient ecosystem.

On cloudy or drizzly days (the prevailing weather conditions in the western Cascades) photographers wander among the big old trees and revel in the green forest silence, testing the film makers' palettes at the cool end of the spectrum. Cloudy days also provide optimum conditions for shooting the waterfalls for which the Cascades are famous. On sunny days lighting is tricky for photographers trying to balance the dazzling white of the Mountain with the dark brooding greens of the forest.

Over three hundred lakes, tarns, and ephemeral pools dot the park landscape and provide opportunities for photographers to reflect on the grand scene.

The great bulk of Mount Rainier, the largest volcano in the Cascade Range, dominates nearly every view in the region. However, photographers will find exciting subjects in the Tatoosh Range, a series of jagged peaks flanking Mount Rainier on the park's southern boundary. The Tatoosh and the meadows around Tipsoo Lake on the park's eastern edge offer panoramic view opportunities for photographers willing to expend the energy to search them out.

Enjoy this exhibit on The Mountain. May its images encourage you to visit one of the most magnificent places in the Pacific Northwest. When you visit, please remember to NOT be a meadow stomper, so that future generations of photographers and lovers of flowers can enjoy the same uplifting scenes of natural beauty with which we are blessed.

About the Photographer:

Mountains have always been near to my home. Growing up in Colorado gave me many opportunities to get up close and personal with stones and streams, and meadow flowers, and mountain tops. My father thought it important to show me landscapes firsthand, so we explored the National Parks of the West in every season. On one excursion in Grand Teton National Park, we met a ranger who was as excited as we were about the exquisite detail of the natural world.

I knew then that I should be a ranger too, so with a degree in Forest recreation from the "Ranger Factory" of Colorado State University, I embarked upon a 30-year career in the National Park Service. Yellowstone was my first assignment, where I enjoyed photographing thermal features and wildlife in winter.

Later, after stints as ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Cape Hatteras and Horseshoe Bend, the Park Service led me to the volcanic Cascade Range. Lassen Volcanic National Park, where I was Assistant Chief park Naturalist, brought me back to big trees and friendly wilderness and reinforced my enthusiasm for sharing the natural world via photographs. As Chief park Naturalist at Crater Lake National Park, I continued the celebration of mountains, deep blue lakes, and the weather that makes being there so special.

While serving as Assistant Chief park Naturalist at Mount Rainier National Park for the final ten years of my career, I rekindled a passion for trees, especially BIG OLD TREES, and deepened an appreciation for the richest sub-alpine wildflower garden this side of Paradise. Staring up at the icy bulk of Mount Rainier reminds me that the processes of creation are still at work. It is up to us as responsible photographers to share in the glory while helping to preserve these special places for our children.

Throughout my career with the National Park Service, I carried a camera and helped young naturalists to discover, record, and share the wonders of the natural world. Switching careers from Park Ranger/Naturalist to full-time nature photographer now allows me to be outside in my favorite places, the National Parks, when the light is good, in the best of weather, and the worst.

Welcome to the volcano in my back yard. Please contact me via e-mail at for an insider's view of The Mountain.

Note: All images in this showcase were shot in 35mm format using a Nikon F4 with a Tamron 28-200mm zoom lens. Films used range from Kodak E100S and Kodachrome 64 to Fuji Velvia.

Find photos of the Colorado Plateau in Land of the Canyons, the Photo Trip USA landscape photography guide book.

 Home     Buy    Services    Resources    Showcase    Contact
Material, design and coding, Copyright 1998-2006 by Graphie International, Inc., except as noted. All Rights Reserved.
PhotoTripUSA™ is a trademark of Graphie International, Inc.