September in the Cascades: thinner crowds and lingering wildflowers
If you only ever visit the Pacific Northwest during July and August, you might come away thinking that the region's reputation of being eternally grey is a lie, designed to discourage outsiders from settling here. The glaciated peaks of the Cascades glisten under blue skies for weeks on end, and the crowds at the visitors' centers in Mt. Rainier National Park can be formidable. After Labor Day, though, kids return to school and tourists thin out...but the sun hangs on (usually)—solitude in a field of alpine wildflowers becomes easier to find, even at the easily accessible Paradise area on Mt. Rainier's southern flank. Put on sunscreen and hike up toward the glaciers, listening for the whistling of marmots. Turn around, look south—the jagged Tatoosh Range will be framed by asters still in bloom...
By Joseph Cyr, AFAR Local Expert
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