Aug 302014
 
trail through the forest

Salmon Lakes Trail, Willamette National Forest.

Mention any place in Oregon you visited with “Waldo” in the name and anyone who knows the central Cascades will ask, “How bad were the mosquitos?”

Waldo Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in the Pacific Northwest, with water purity matched only by Crater Lake, is notorious for the hordes of mosquitos that have spoiled many a summer camping trip or hike at the lake. Naturally, the mosquitos don’t limit themselves to Waldo Lake, and are thick throughout any moist area of the western Cascades throughout most of the summer.

Three years ago, I set out on August 15th to hike the Salmon Lakes Trail in the Willamette National Forest to Waldo Meadows, a place that Oregon hiking guide author Bill Sullivan promised was “hip-deep in wildflowers”. While only a few miles west of Waldo Lake, the meadows and Salmon Lakes are more easily reached via the Salmon Creek drainage east of Oakridge, Oregon.

I’d barely opened the door of my van at the trailhead before the skeeters attacked me. Not to be deterred, I sprayed, slathered and smeared good old Ben’s insect repellant all over me. I usually try to avoid DEET, but when the bugs are really bad, I get out the Ben’s and rely on its 30% DEET formula to keep the mossies from biting.

But this time, it was the mosquitos that were not to be deterred. I hiked with hands and arms constantly in motion, waving hat and bandana, trying to keep the swarms of buzzing bugs away from my face, only to be met at the first meadow with clouds of the obnoxious insects totally intent on finding some square millimeter of my body that wasn’t doused in DEET.

Call me a wimp, but by the time I reached the meadows, I wasn’t really in the mood to photograph the flowers, and after about five minutes I packed up the gear and headed back to the trailhead.

On August 15th of this year, I tried Salmon Lakes Trail again. With an unusually dry and warm spring and summer in Oregon, I’d guessed that mosquito season in the high Cascades was coming to an end early this year, and I was quite pleased that that seemed to be the case as I readied for hike at the trailhead and headed down the path without hearing a single buzz.

The first part of the hike passes through classic western Cascades forest of Douglas fir, western hemlock and red cedar, with some of the trees approaching old-growth status. A couple of hundred yards from the trailhead and Wilderness Permit box, I veered right at a fork, opting to save the climb to Waldo Mountain Lookout for another day. Salmon Lakes Trail is an easy hike, with only minor ups and downs, following the contour on the south side of Waldo Mountain.

Cascade aster flower

Cascade aster in Waldo Meadows.

A couple of miles in, the trail crosses the boundary for Waldo Lake Wilderness, and shortly after that breaks out of forest and into the first of several meadows. And yes, the wildflowers are hip-deep and more. This year, the unusual weather also meant that most of the flowers had already bloomed and the corn lily leaves were starting to wither, but I there was still some very beautiful Indian paintbrush and lots of the lovely lavender-petaled Cascade asters. And no mosquitos to interrupt the joy of photographing the flowers and reveling in the beauty of the mountain meadow!

At 2.5 miles from the trailhead, a junction in the middle of a meadow gives the option of continuing east towards Waldo Lake (or making a loop to include the lookout at the summit of Waldo Mountain). I headed south instead, reaching Upper Salmon Lake, headwaters for Salmon Creek, in an easy ½-mile stroll.

I was hoping for a nice swim in a mountain lake as part of my hike, but both Upper and Lower Salmon Lakes are the type of shallow western Cascades lake surrounded by mucky marsh, with a muddy bottom where you sink in up to your knees when trying to wade out to swimming depth.

Upper Salmon Lake

Upper Salmon Lake, Waldo Lake Wilderness.

There is a very nice backpacker/equestrian campsite with a view of Upper Salmon Lake, but on this visit I was disgusted to find that it was totally trashed by some low-lifes who left piles of garbage, cans, jars and bottles. I cannot fathom how someone can pack in three miles to a pristine wilderness lake and then trash it.

Sullivan’s hiking guidebook noted that there was a waterfall just 150 yards downstream from Upper Salmon Lake. Bill doesn’t give much description of the falls, just noting that it is about 20 feet high. He didn’t mention that it’s a beautiful cascade, with Salmon Creek tumbling over a jumble of rock into a little pool, all surrounded by lush, green vegetation – exactly the type of waterfall that landscape photographers love.

waterfalls below Upper Salmon Lake

Waterfalls on Salmon Creek, Waldo Lake Wilderness.

Almost all waterfalls are best photographed on overcast days, else the contrast of the scene is just too harsh, and this one is no exception. I was there on a bright, sunny day, and while there was a brief moment of softer light when a cloud passed in front of the mid-day sun, I wished I was there very early in the morning when the falls would be in shade, or on a day with more clouds and overcast (which also would be better for forest scenes and the wildflowers in the meadows).

As far as I could tell, there is no established trail to Lower Salmon Lake, and getting to it requires a bit of bushwhacking through a lot of blowdown timber. I worked my way through the dense brush and trees at the edge of the lake and found a log to sit on for an enjoyable spot for lunch, listening to the birds and watching the dragonflies and damselflies.

Lower Salmon Lake

Lower Salmon Lake, Waldo Lakes Wilderness.

Returning the way I came, I noticed several different kinds of mushrooms popping up along the trail (there had been summer thunderstorms several days previous to my trip, which tends to bring up the mushrooms).

All in all, the Salmon Lakes Trail is a very pleasant hike, which numerous possibilities for landscape and nature photographers (and nature lovers in general). If you want to make it a loop trip and add the climb to Waldo Mountain, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Waldo Lake and the surrounding forest from the fire lookout at the summit.

To reach the trailhead for Salmon Lakes Trail, travel Oregon Highway 58 to the town of Oakridge, then turn north onto Fish Hatchery Road on the east end of town. When the road crosses the railroad tracks and reaches a T intersection in about a mile, head east on Forest Road 24 for 11 miles, then veer left onto FR 2417. In six more miles, fork right onto FR 2424, and continue for 3.7 miles until you see the hiker sign on the right and a parking area on the left.

A note on the processing of the photos for this post:  As mentioned above, waterfalls are best photographed on overcast and cloudy days, and the same is generally true of forest scenes, where there is otherwise too much contrast for a pleasing photo. This particular trip was more about the hike than waiting for the best light, and these photos were all taken in the middle of a blue sky sunny day. I was able to tame some of the contrast by using OnOne Software’s Perfect Effects 8 plugin as part of my Lightroom workflow. The “HDR Look” filter has several options, from very slight to heavy grunge. For these images, I chose the “Subtle” option, which helped to bring up shadow detail and tone down highlights, but overall retained a quite natural look. In the case of the wildflowers, I simply leaned over the flower, shading the area with my body, while making the photos.

Jul 162014
 
A calm stretch on the Wild & Scenic Rogue River.

A calm stretch on the Wild & Scenic Rogue River.

Southern Oregon’s Rogue River has long been a favorite of whitewater rafting and kayaking enthusiasts, fishermen, hikers and wildlife lovers.

After a couple of inflatable raft trips running the 40-mile length of the Wild & Scenic designated portion of the river, and a short hike on a section of the Rogue River National Recreation Trail, I’ve become a huge fan myself and highly recommend the Rogue for anyone looking for adventure in a beautiful, unspoiled setting.

inflatable raft going through rapids on the Rogue River

Down the chute at Rainie Falls.

My most recent trip was with a bunch of guys celebrating a bachelor party for a very good friend. Three days of fun, games, thrills and spills. Most of these guys were experienced whitewater rafters and kayakers, and the group included several professional guides and EMT-trained firemen. Couldn’t ask for a better group to go with, and have confidence that I’d make it through the Rogue’s famous rapids.

inflatable raft coming out of whitewater rapids

Was that one fun, boys?

The scenery in this deep gorge cut by eons of river flow is incredibly beautiful. The Wild and Scenic stretch of the river, between Grave Creek and Foster Bar, runs through the Wild Rogue Wilderness. Miles of pristine forest and unusual rock formations unique to the ancient Siskiyou Mountains. Douglas fir and large, beautiful madrone trees sometimes cling to bare rock cliffs rising hundreds of feet above the river.

Rafts, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on a quiet stretch of the Rogue River.

Rafts, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on a quiet stretch of the river.

In between the gnarly rapids, calm sections of the river offer time for conversation, story telling, and in our bunch a good bit of joshing and revelry. Drifting through these areas is also great for wildlife viewing. We saw black bear, deer, bald eagles, mergansers, Canada geese, belted kingfishers and ouzels. Late on the first day, some good sized steelhead jumped and came down with a splash in a pool fronting our campsite.

Stand-up paddle boarding has become extremely popular wherever there is water, and we had great fun paddling and even surfing the smaller rapids with a couple of inflatable SUPs loaned to us by the good folks at Hala Gear.

Going down the Wild and Scenic part of the Rogue River is not for novice boaters. There are class IV and V rapids that are dangerous and can be challenging even for experienced rafters. If you want to give it a go, and I highly recommend it, book with a reputable company like O.A.R.S. or Ouzel Outfitters, where several of our group were former guides.

Have you done the Rogue? What was your experience?

Jun 042014
 

cover of "Photographing Washington"

I am very happy to announce that my book Photographing Washington won Silver in the Travel category in the Independent Book Publishers Association annual Benjamin Franklin Awards.

The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards, which includes fifty-two categories recognizing excellence in book editorial and design, are regarded as one of the highest national honors for independent publishers.

This makes the sixth time that my publisher, PhotoTripUSA, has been honored by the IBPA in the Benjamin Franklin Awards, including my Gold award in Travel for Photographing Oregon.

For more information about my books, and links to purchasing options, please visit this page:  http://www.gregvaughn.com/books.html

Apr 302014
 
Sierra Nevada mountains and clouds in sky above Owens Valley California

Sierra Nevada Mountains from Owens Valley.

Landscape photographers love the Sierra Nevada range not just for the majestic mountains but also because the skies are often filled with dramatic cirrus and cumulous clouds.

I drove for miles on US Highway 395 in the Owens Valley looking for a great foreground subject that would lead the eye to the mountain peaks, then suddenly realized the sky and clouds needed to have prominence in my photo for this vista.

The Sierras in general and skies like this in particular really lend themselves to black & white photography, à la Ansel Adams. Digital processing tools we have today make it easy to experiment and select a tonal balance from myriad choices. Sometimes I miss the old wet darkroom days, but I know I would have spent hours hovering over the chemicals and wasted many sheets of silver-laced paper trying to make a print of this image. In Lightroom it is easy to try different apps and presets in a short amount of time. For this photo, I tried several presets in Silver Efex Pro, Perfect Effects, and Topaz Adjust. In the end, I settled on the Orange Filter 2 B&W Preset that Michael Frye includes with his excellent Landscapes in Lightroom 5 tutorial for the right combination of dramatic sky and tonal contrast in the mountains.

Apr 192014
 
wildflowers along Dalles Mountain Road in Columbia Hills State Park, Washington.

Lupine and balsamroot, Columbia Hills State Park, with the Columbia River and Mount Hood in the distance.

Want to photograph wildflowers at their peak in the Columbia River Gorge? Now’s the time.

I’ve been wandering the Oregon side of The Gorge between Hood River and the Deschutes River the past few days, and just about all the regular known locations for wildflowers are looking very good right now.

In Hood River Valley, the apple trees in the orchards are covered with delicate white blossoms. The view from Panorama Point is quite striking with the trees in the lower valley looking frosted while Mount Hood still has a nice cap of snow. Orchards in the upper part of the valley will probably hit their peak in a week or so. Wander the backroads a bit with an eye to the north and you’ll find superb views of the orchards with majestic Mount Adams as a backdrop.

At The Nature Conservancy’s Tom McCall Preserve at Rowena Plateau, the balsamroot are absolutely gorgeous. I wouldn’t call it a carpet of color, but there are many areas with good, thick clumps of bright yellow blossoms in their prime. The lupine are just starting to show, so there is probably another couple of weeks of great conditions here for these showy favorites for landscape photography.

Further east, a short hike up river on the trails at Deschutes River State Recreation Area will lead to some nice views of lavendar lupine among the silvery sagebrush.

Over on the Washington side of the Gorge, the hills are alive. Not with the sound of music, but with a glorious carpet of bright yellow balsamroot and purple lupine just off Dalles Mountain Road in Columbia Hills State Park. Drive a little beyond the old ranch buildings for a stunning view across the fields of flowers to the Columbia River and distant Mount Hood.

Those of you who are really into wildflowers and macro photography will find several other species blooming in this area right now, and the bloom will continue through May, with peak times depending on location and elevation.

Are you heading to The Gorge soon for some wildflower photography? Let others know what you find in the Comments below, and if you know of someone who might be interested in photographing the flowers, please share this post via email or your favorite social network.

Mar 302014
 
Rowena Loop Road, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.

Rowena Loop Road, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.

What is it about road trips that makes them so alluring? Reflecting on past trips brings back a flood of memories, and thinking about the next one brings excitement and anticipation. What will you see, learn and experience on the journey ahead?

Like many Americans, Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, and William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways were a major influence on me in my formative years, and these classic road trip books remain personal favorites.

Family vacations when I was young were always road trips. We definitely fit the stereotypical image of Mom, Dad and two kids traveling the highways and backroads on a summer road trip. And visiting National Parks, crossing the country (southeast one year, midwest to New York another), definitely were educational experiences.

Highway 101 Cape Sebastian Oregon Coast

Highway 101 at Cape Sebastian on the Oregon Coast.

I suppose it’s no surprise that a road trip is one of the things I enjoy most. Heading out with a pack full of camera gear, a full tank of gas and a vente latte in the cupholder puts a smile on my face.

Sometimes the trip is about exploring new places. I love to study maps and pick out roads I haven’t been on before, wondering what I might find. Sometimes it’s about re-visiting a favorite place from a previous trip. Sometimes, it’s just about getting somewhere I need to be, but wanting to enjoy the journey as well.

Leslie Gulch, Southeast Oregon.

Good advice on the road to Leslie Gulch in southeast Oregon.

And sometimes I just need to hit the road. When I’ve been office-bound too long, when my hands and eyes hurt from too many hours on the computer, when the inanity and insanity of the world get to be too much, I just have to get out, and a road trip, whether for a few hours or as many days as I can manage, is what I need to restore some balance in my life.

Often times on long drives, my mind wanders, comes up with an idea, and then wonders. The road trip gives me time to figure out if the idea might work. Sometimes ideas and inspiration come from listening to podcasts and audiobooks, something that I never seem to find time for when I’m home. 

Rainbow over Volkswagon Westfalia camper van

Hours behind the wheel, moving miles down the road, gives me the opportunity to think, to contemplate, and to reflect. A road trip gives me time to cogitate on where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where, both literally and figuratively, I want to go.

Where will your next road trip take you?

Mar 142014
 
Trillium flower at Mount Pisgah Arboretum

Trillium (aka Wakerobin) blooming at Mount Pisgah Arboretum.

With just a few days of warmth and sunshine following weeks of cold and rain, the wildflowers have started blooming at Mount Pisgah Arboretum here in Oregon’s southern Willamette Valley.

Hiking yesterday on a loop of Zig Zag, Upper Plateau, Jette, South Boundary and Incense Cedar Trails, I saw Trillium, Houndstongue, Oregon Fawn Lily, Spring Beauty, Oregon Grape and even a few early blooms of Common Camas.

I always enjoy seeing trillium blooming, as these beautiful and delicate flowers, plus the sight of ornamental plum trees in the neighborhood bursting into a mass of pink blossoms, signal that spring has arrived and the dreary days of winter will soon be gone.

Photo notes: This photograph was made with the native Camera app in my iPhone (4s). I am continually amazed at the quality of images this “camera” produces, and even more so now that it has a built-in HDR feature (which was On for this shot). I imported the photo into Instagram, chose the Hefe filter+frame and adjusted the Lux to add a little contrast and saturation. When I found this trillium the light was strongly mottled with bright sun coming through the forest, so I positioned my body and my backpack to shade the area I wanted to frame and put the flower in nice, soft light. Now that the wildflowers are blooming, I’ll start packing my collapsible diffusion/reflector disc for these contrasty lighting situations.

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Mar 102014
 
Lava from the Pu'u O'o eruption flowing into the ocean.

Lava from the Pu’u O’o eruption flowing into the ocean.

For a number of years I had the good fortune to live on the Big Island of Hawaii. The largest in size (but not population) of all the Hawaiian Islands, it also has the most diversity of climate and terrain. Within a few hours you can travel from palm-fringed tropical beaches to lush rainforest to arid desert to a live volcano and to the top of 13,796-foot Mauna Kea.

The Big Island is rich in opportunities for any kind of photography, but it is especially great for nature and landscape photographers. If you are planning or thinking of visiting the island of Hawaii, here are my recommendations for the top ten locations for nature and scenic landscape photography.

1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – A live volcano!  The Kilauea volcano system has been active and erupting almost continuously for over 30 years. Viewing the fountaining lava from Pu’u O’o in the early stages of the eruption was one of the most amazing and spectacular things I have ever witnessed, as was viewing molten lava creating new land as it flows to the ocean. If by any chance there is an active flow while you are on the island, drop everything to go see it. In recent years, it is often possible to see the glow of molten lava in Halemaumau Crater. Best time to see and photograph Madame Pele’s magic is at dusk and dawn when the glow of the lava balances nicely with the ambient light. You can check on current volcanic activity on the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park website. For more detailed information, check the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website.

2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Thurston Lava Tube and Kilauea Iki Trails. Thurston Lava Tube is one of the most popular destinations within the Park, and with good reason. Not only can you walk through a lava tube, but the trail passes through an outstanding forest of native Hawaiian rainforest species. Tall tree ferns will probably grab your attention first, but look also for the bright red blossoms of the ʻōhiʻa lehua tree, and for the bright red apapane and i’iwi, two somewhat rare birds endemic to the Hawaiian rainforest. Kilauea Iki Trail is probably the best day hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. From the trailhead at the Thurston Lava Tube parking area, the path wanders through fern-ohia forest to the rim of Kilauea Iki, and then drops down to the crater floor. Look for steam rising from cracks in the barren lava as you cross the crater, and then climb back to the forested rim. I recommend visiting Thurston Lava Tube either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the bus loads of other visitors that arrive every day.

pahoehoe lava flow

Pahoehoe lava, Chain of Craters Road.

3. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Chain of Craters Road.  After visiting the Thurston Lava Tube area, head makai (towards the ocean) on Chain of Craters Road. The landscape soon changes from dense forest to barren, and relatively recent, lava flows. Stop at one of the several pullouts and viewpoints along the way and wander at bit looking for the wonderful textures and designs in the pahoehoe lava. Photos of the stark lava can be even more striking if you include the ferns and other plants that are the first to colonize lava flows. When the road drops down Holei Pali, look for the trail to Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs. An easy 1.4-mile round-trip walk leads past ancient inscriptions in an older lava flow. Just before where the road is closed by recent lava flows, look for Holei Sea Arch viewpoint. The light immediately after sunrise is beautiful in this part of the park.

Lobster Claw Heloconia

Lobster Claw Heliconia, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

4. Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.  If you’re a plant lover and like to photograph exotic flowers, you’ll probably want to spend several hours at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. Located a few miles north of Hilo on the Hamakua Coast, the garden includes over 2000 species of plants in its beautiful 40-acre setting. The garden is very photographer friendly, and a lovely waterfall on Onomea Stream at the edge of the property is a nice bonus. Other gardens to visit on the Big Island include Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo, World Botanical Gardens further up the Hamakua Coast, and the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden south of Kailua-Kona town. 

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls.

5. Akaka Falls State Park.  Of all the waterfalls in Hawaii, two on the Big Island are the most well-known, Rainbow Falls in Hilo and Akaka Falls on the Hamakua Coast. A short loop trail in Akaka Falls State Park leads to 442′ tall Akaka Falls, where the flow drops straight down over a lava cliff. The surrounding lush, green vegetation makes the view even more attractive. The trail to the falls also passes through a bamboo forest and gives a glimpse of 100′ tall Kahuna Falls. Due to the terrain, good viewing points for photographs of the falls are very limited, and like Thurston Lava Tube this place gets busloads of visitors every day, so try to be there either fairly early or late in the day. It’s more likely to be cloudy or overcast in the afternoon, the best kind of light for waterfall and forest photography. 

Mana Road view of Parker Ranch land

Pu’u on Parker Ranch, Mana Road.

6. Waimea – Mana Road.  The area surrounding the little town of Waimea is largely ranch country, including historic Parker Ranch, at one time the largest privately-owned cattle ranch in the United States. Follow Mana Road south of town for landscapes of rolling green pastures, perhaps paniolos (cowboys) on a round-up, and views from the lower slopes of Mauna Kea up to its summit. The road is good, solid gravel and dirt for the first few miles, beyond which it becomes a 4WD adventure as the road climbs the slopes of Mauna Kea and circles the eastern side of the mountain. 

7. Saddle Road.  It has never failed to amazed me that the winding and dangerously narrow Hana Highway is touted as one of the highlights of a visit to Maui, while visitors, and until recently, residents, were always warned to stay off Saddle Road on the Big Island. Granted, much of the road is narrow, there are some nasty curves and portions are frequently fog-shrouded, but with a modicum of care it’s not a bad drive and offers some very unique and beautiful scenery. Officially known as State Highway 200, Saddle Road crosses the lava landscape  between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Those interested in native Hawaiian habitat and ecology will enjoy the rainforest on the Hilo side of the drive and Pu’u Huluhulu, a kipuka or island of forest surrounded by barren lava. Saddle Road is also the route to the observatories at the summit of Mauna Kea.

palm trees at sunset, Anaehoomalu Bay

‘Anaeho’omalu Bay Sunset

8. ‘Anaeho’omalu Bay.  The beach at Waikoloa Resort is the place to go for great sunset+palm trees photos. Tall cocopalms line the sandy beach at ‘Anaeho’omalu, the traditional Hawaiian name for this location. The most popular viewpoint is from the trail around the ancient Hawaiian fishpond that is just behind the beach. The fishpond can be part of your composition, and it makes an interesting subject in itself. Some of the best petroglyphs in Hawaii can be found along a trail near the Kings Shops at Waikoloa Resort.

9. Kona Coast Beach Parks. The Big Island may have fewer long stretches of sandy beach than the other main islands in Hawaii, but it does have some really beautiful little coves scattered around the perimeter of the island. Between Kailua-Kona town and the Kohala Coast resorts, most of the shoreline is barren lava, which at first glance may not be too attractive, but can be great for photos of blowholes and long exposure images of the tidal surge swirling around the jagged lava rocks. There are a couple of roads providing access to the coast at Kekaha Kai State Park, where you can walk the ancient Ala Kahakai Trail to visit several little bays. The area immediately south of Kahalu’u Beach Park at Keauhou is another excellent location for shooting the rugged lava coast at sunset.

Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park

Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park

10. Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park. In ancient Hawaii a person who broke sacred law could escape punishment if they could get to a pu’uhonua, a place of refuge. Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau is the largest and best preserved of these refuges in the islands, and the dedicated staff and volunteers at this National Park have done an incredible job of restoring and replicating Hale O Keawe heiau (temple) and the associated structures of this wonderful cultural site. For a number of years I lived not far from Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau and visited often. It has always been one of my most favorite places in all of Hawaii, both for its beauty and its cultural importance. Spend some quiet time here, wandering the pathways or contemplating the carved wooden ki’i figures and you will surely sense the mana, the spirit, of ancient Hawaii. The light is usually best on the ki’i and the heiau very early in the morning, but this is also an excellent location for sunset light.

Do you agree with my list of the best places on the Big Island for nature photographers?  What would you add?

As always, if you enjoy this post and find it informative, please share.

Mar 082014
 
Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier National Park, in winter.

Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier National Park.

If your photography plans include a trip to Mount Rainier National Park anytime in the next several months, you may encounter delays due to construction on Washington State Highway 706. Reconstruction and improvements to the section of the highway from the Nisqually Entrance, through Longmire, and up to the Paradise Meadows area began this month and work will continue through summer and into early autumn. Traveling on this section of the road Monday through Friday, you’ll need to allow an extra hour for your trip. There should be no delays on weekends and holidays. For more information about the project and an update on current conditions, check the Mount Rainier National Park website.

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