See the Milky Way over Mt. Rainier

Washington Sourdough Ridge Trail, Mount Rainier NP

Added by Michael Matti

  • See and photograph the Milky Way over Mount Rainier
  • The best spot to get these photos is a short hike from the parking area
  • Be sure to check weather reports before heading out
  • Duration: A few hours

The Milky Way and Mount Rainier is a beautiful combination. In order to get a photo of the Milky Way over Mount Rainier you need to be in the right spot at the right time of year. The spot seen in the photographs is a great spot in that it isn't too far of a hike and provides an unobstructed view of the mountain and the milky way. To reach the spot, park at the Sunrise Visitor Center in Mt. Rainier NP and hike up the Sourdough Ridge Trail towards Frozen Lake. You only need to hike about a mile on the trail and then scamper up the small ridge on the left of the trail to get the view needed for the shot.

Be sure to check weather conditions as there needs to be a clear sky in order to see the stars. As far as time of year, the Milky Way is best seen in the summer months, but late spring or early fall will work as well.

Location of Trailhead: 46.915788, -121.643709

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Remote Trigger
  • Water
  • Warmer Clothes
  • Flashlights
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn



Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly

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How to Get There

about 2 months ago

Watch out for Clouds!

We went around the first of August, got to sunrise late and had to scramble up the hillside to find our friends who got there earlier. There was a large blanket of clouds covering the mountain around 10:30pm, but we decided to wait till 12:30am and boy was it worth it! We got some great cloud action around the base of the mountain and the foreground and by about 2-3am the mountain was clearly out and the milky was was directly (vertical) above it. Such and incredible night. It was also rad seeing the climbers making their ascent up the mountain around 12:30-1am. Definitely a 5 start experience. P.S. bring warm clothes, it gets a lil nippy.

about 2 months ago

7 months ago

Time of day?

Michael, I love your post on this. I've been on a hunt for some excellent Milky Way shots and Mt. Rainer is my goal this year. What time of night were these there shots taken in? Respectfully, Jon

7 months ago

about 1 year ago

Went a couple nights ago to watch the Perseid meteor shower. We camped nearby and hiked out to the ridge for a few hours. The Milky Way is very vivid at the elevation and there's virtually no light pollution.

about 1 year ago

Added by Michael Matti

Seattle based photographer and hiker.

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