Fall Color at Mount Rainier and the North Cascades

September 2021

I had photographed Mount Rainier before during the summer when the wild flowers are in bloom. For years, I had wanted to photograph the fall colors there and finally got the chance, Just like with the wild flowers, you worry if you’re arriving at the right time.

After getting settled in a room in Packwood, Washington, I headed up to Little Tipsoo Lake east of Mount Rainier. This is an iconic location to photograph Mount Rainier from. I was hoping to see some good red color in the plants up on the hill where you photograph from.

To my delight, the color was great. I knew that when I returned the next morning I would be able to capture an image I had wanted for a long time.

Tipsoo Lake Fall
"Tipsoo Lake Fall" - Click Photo To Purchase
Tipsoo Lake Fall Morning
"Tipsoo Lake Fall Morning" - Click Photo To Purchase

Closer to Mount Rainier, near the Paradise Visitor Center, are trails that lead up closer to the mountain. It is along these trails that there are some spectacular scenes of Mount Rainer above the fall colors in the tundra.

What made this really special was the early snowfall on the mountain just before I got there. There is something about snow covered mountains and fall colors that make an incredible combination.

Rainier Fall Explosion
"Rainier Fall Explosion" - Click Photo To Purchase
A Fall Paradise
"A Fall Paradise" - Click Photo To Purchase

I was actually heading back to my car to leave for the day and couldn’t help but notice a large area of red color directly behind the visitor center. Red always gets your attention. Not only did it make for a nice panoramic photo of the red color, it also served as a great foreground object for Mount Rainier. I had to chuckle to myself when I thought that I could actually capture a couple of great images from the parking lot. It doesn’t happen very often.

Rainier Red
"Rainier Red" - Click Photo To Purchase
Abundance Of Red
"Abundance of Red" - Click Photo To Purchase

Some of the days during my time there suffered from heavy clouds and rain. Not letting that deter me, I headed for Stevens Canyon where I was presented with this amazing scene of the mountains above the canyon and fall color on the side of the mountain. The heavy, swirling clouds were the perfect touch.

Stevens Canyon
"Stevens Canyon" - Click Photo To Purchase

It was late as I was heading back to my room, and it was drizzling and getting dark. I never stop looking for something interesting and saw this one small tree that was very bright green among dark ferns in the forest. It looked happy being wet and green. I immediately named it “The Kermit Tree”.

The Kermit Tree
"The Kermit Tree" - Click Photo To Purchase

After finishing at Mount Rainier, it was time to head up to the North Cascades to photograph the fall scene at Picture Lake with Mount Shuksan in the background. This was another one of those images that had alluded me for years. The day I arrived was the only good weather day of the three I was there. That happens in the Pacific Northwest.

Wasting no time, I found what I felt was the best spot on the edge of the lake to capture the best reflection. I couldn’t decide between shooting it close up or more wide angle. The easy answer was to shoot it both ways.

Mount Shuksan
"Mount Shuksan" - Click Photo To Purchase
Picture Lake
"Picture Lake" - Click Photo To Purchase

The fall color was everywhere in the area. I was attracted to these trees behind a lake that were surrounded by color. I ignored the drizzling rain and shot away.

Cascades Fall
Cascades Fall - Click Photo To Purchase

My time at Mount Rainier and the North Cascades exceeded my expectations. When I left, my mind was already on my next location for fall color, Acadia National Park and the Maine Coast.