The holy grail of photographs, for many photographers, is to capture the milky way, streaming across the dark night sky. This is easier to do at Mount Rainier National Park (and many other national parks) than most other places, because we truly do still have dark skies, undiminished by street lights, porch lights, neon marquees, vehicle headlights, and stadium spotlights leaking up into the night. Even with the naked eye, on a moonless night such as the ones coming up, you’ll see more stars from the parking lot at Paradise or Sunrise than you might ever have seen elsewhere in your life. At Paradise we even have volunteer rangers with telescopes to help you get a closer view.
Taking a photo of it is still a challenge. It requires a good camera with manual settings, an even better tripod to keep the camera still, and a lot of trial and error. There are many good resources online to tell you how, if you’d like to try it. But even if you aren’t so inclined, an evening laying on the hood of your car, staring up into the vast infinite of the galaxy, is an experience worth having in your national park.
Photo: The Milky Way over Sunrise by Chris Weber, September 8, 2013, flickr.com/groups/MountRainierNPS, used with attribution under a Creative Commons license.