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Enjoy colorful wildflowers of Mount Rainier

MOUNT RAINIER – Mount Rainer’s wildflowers are heavily dependent on weather and precipitation patterns for when they bloom, but in most years a large variety of flowers will be blooming by mid-July, and by the first of August the meadows should be very impressive. To visit the meadows from Sunnyside, go west to US12, then either take SR123 to the Stevens Canyon entrance to the park or SR7 in Morton north to Elbe, and east on SR706 through Ashford to the Nisqually entrance to the park. The best meadows are near Longmire and along Westside Road, which is closed to car traffic but accessible for walking and biking. Westside Road is one mile east of the Nisqually entrance. For more information about how to reach the park and whether or not areas are open, visit the National Park Service’s Mount Rainier website at nps.gov/mora.

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Photo by Photos courtesy National Park Service

Jeffrey’s Shooting Star usually grows in clumps in wet subalpine meadows and along streams. The flowers of this species were considered good luck by the Nlaka’pamux people, who used them as amulets and love charms.

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Photo by Photos courtesy National Park Service

Easily identifiable by its bright pink “magenta” color, this paintbrush is one of many species of paintbrush found in the park. The plant grows up to about a foot high and is abundant is subalpine meadows.

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Photo by Photos courtesy National Park Service

Spreading Stonecrop grows to form spreading mats. The plant’s stems have thick, bright green leaves, sometimes tinged with red. It is often found growing on cliff faces and stony slopes.

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Photo by Photos courtesy National Park Service

Crimson columbine (Aquilegia formosa) is a common but beautiful wildflower in the west. The genus name Aquilegia comes from the Latin aquila, which means eagle, and refers to the spurred petals that resemble eagles’ talons. The species name formosa is Latin for beautiful.

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Photo by Photos courtesy National Park Service

Wildflowers above Paradise, including the seedheads of western anemone in front of lupine, paintbrush and a solitary bistort.

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Photo by Photos courtesy National Park Service

Hooded Ladies’-tresses is a terrestrial orchid found in meadows and along streamsides in the park. This delicate orchid can support 60 white flowers spiraling up a single stalk, and emits a sweet vanilla-like scent.

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Photo by Photos courtesy National Park Service

A black-tailed deer wades through one of the lush wildflower meadows at Paradise, near the Alta Vista Trail.

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