Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks garnered some attention early last week when they were included in Fodor’s list of 10 national parks to visit for fall colors.
Here is what writer Jayme Moye had to say about Mount Rainier: “Fall foliage at Mount Rainier National Park is very different than in the more eastern parts of the country, but just as spectacular. Starting in late September, every huckleberry bush, aspen, cottonwood, vine maple, elderberry, willow, and tamarack (western larch), bursts into hues of gold, amber and crimson.”
Moye went on to recommend looking for fall colors between Sunrise and Chinook Pass, in the Bench and Snow lakes area, Paradise, Reflection Lakes and Grove of the Patriarchs.
For Olympic, Moye took a different approach, writing, “Fall colors are scarce at Olympic National Park, with only occasional splashes from maple trees among the evergreen trees. But there’s an even bigger draw in autumn – salmon spawning season, when you can watch Coho salmon leap up the Quillayute and Sol Duc rivers.”
The writer recommends salmon viewers head to the Salmon Cascades in the Sol Duc River in October or taking the Hoh Visitor Center nature trail leading to a small tributary of the Hoh River in November.
Rounding out the list were Acadia National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Redwood National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Yosemite National Park.
You can find out what Fodor’s had to say about each park at fodors.com.
INSTITUTE FOUNDER HONORED
Saul Weisberg, co-founder and executive director of North Cascades Institute, has received two awards for his efforts. He recently received the Association of Nature Center Administrators’ 2013 Nature Center Leadership Award and Resources’ 2013 Environmental Heroes Award.
The Institute, founded in 1986, has been providing outdoor programs for students, individuals, groups and families focused on the natural and cultural history of the North Cascades and Salish Sea region. In 2005, the institute opened the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park. The $12 million educational center operates in partnership with Seattle City Light and the National Park Service.
Weisberg was honored for creating sustainable, mutually beneficial partnerships with the Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Western Washington University and numerous local and regional organizations and businesses.
RAINIER BUTTERFLY COUNT
Volunteers at Mount Rainier counted 1,671 butterflies this summer, as part of the Cascade Butterfly Project. Participants identified 35 different butterfly species.
The project is a long-term citizen science effort to monitor butterfly populations in North Cascades and Mount Rainier national parks. Scientists studying climate change want to track butterfly numbers because they serve as an indicator species.
This season, volunteers walked through four sites at Mount Rainier, with a net ready to collect butterflies that crossed their path as the butterflies flit through wildflowers at peak bloom. Each captured butterfly was identified, recorded and released.
Among the species identified this year were Arctic blue, Mariposa copper, Sara’s orangetip and Milbert’s tortoiseshell.
August 2013: 287,340
August 2012: 275,147
Difference: 4.4 percent
Year-to-date 2013: 878,557
Year-to-date 2012: 769,479
Difference: 14.2 percent
A boost in the number of visitors coming to the park via Cayuse Pass on state Route 410 and more good weather helped raise August’s visitation count compared to last year. The count at Cayuse Pass was 23.5 percent higher than the year before. August’s count was the highest for that month since 2002 when it was 296,000.
August 2013: 855,663
August 2012: 639,436
Difference: 33.8 percent
Year-to-date 2013: 2,382,443
Year-to-date 2012: 2,072,068
Difference: 15 percent
A flood of visitors to the Hurricane District drove the large increase last month when compared to August 2012. It was the highest count since August 2004, when there were 940,156 recreational visits. August is typically the busiest month at the park. In July, the visitation count was down -12.6 percent compared to the same month in 2012. The figures were not available when we ran the July count story.
National Park Service
August 2013: 34,467,477
August 2012: 35,858,731
Difference: -3.88 percent
Year-to-date 2013: 194,843,192
Year-to-date 2012: 205,428,641
Difference: -5.15 percent