Reflection Lake is one of the most photographed views in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. The lakes offer the opportunity to get not only amazing photos of the mountain but wildflowers and wildlife.
Reflection Lake - Mount Rainier National Park
Location in the park - Near Paradise on Stevens Canyon Road
GPS Waypoint- 46.769167, -121.723889
It is worth mentioning that there are multiple lakes making it Reflection Lakes!
This area can be packed with people but don't worry you can still get an amazing photo! There is a nice parking lot along Stevens Canyon Road.
Grab a parking spot and you can wander around the area to get your best photo and enjoy your visit.
Where is Reflection Lake?
The lakes are just down from the Inspiration Point and the Paradise area of Mount Rainier along Stevens Canyon Road.
Can you drive to Reflection Lake?
Yes, You can drive from Paradise along Stevens Canyon Road and park in front of the lake. You will want to be prepared to wait for a parking space.
You may have to drive down the road a bit and come back to see if a spot has opened.
What do I need to visit Reflection Lake?
We pre-spray our clothes with permethrin spray before we head to any national parks. This way we know that we always have some form of bug spray on us.
Tripod - A tripod will help get a great shot of the lake and reflection of Mount Rainier.
Phone Tripod - If you are shooting with your phone you can use a phone tripod to help steady the camera. This is a great way to get a group photo in front of the lake or take slow shutter photos.
When to visit
There is no real bad time to visit this part of Mount Rainier. It is worth noting that Stevens Canyon Road does close in winter due to the high levels of snow the area receives.
To reach this area in winter you can snowshoe from the Narada Falls trailhead.
During summer the lakes are surrounded by gorgeous wildflowers adding to the beautiful view of the area.
In the fall the area is surrounded by fall leaves and cooler temperatures.
The best time to visit is early in the morning or late in the evening when the winds have calmed down and the lake is flat without waves.
Even if you visit on a windy day the views are still gorgeous you just may not see the full reflection of the lake.
We try to keep an eye on the clouds around the mountain especially when we are already in the Longmire or Paradise area. You can easily hop over to the lake when you see the clouds have parted or it looks like the skies may clear up.
To get the best reflection photo you will want to plan to visit the area early in the morning or late in the evening when the lake water is calm.
Make sure you walk up and down the lake to check out the different views. We found the reflection to be a lot stronger at the far end of the lake compared to in the middle.
You can also get great astrophotography here on a clear night. Just make sure to dress for the cold weather.
Make sure to move around the area to try different shots.
It is worth planning time to be able to visit the lakes multiple times. You may arrive and find Mount Rainier completely covered in clouds.
Can you fish in Reflection Lake?
No, the lake is not open to fishing. You may see Trout jumping while visiting which makes a great
Trails near Reflection Lake
There is also a Reflection Lake Trail near Palmer, Alaska, and in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. Make sure when you get trail info you are getting the right trail. Both trails come up when you do a search.
Pets and bicycles are not permitted on any park trails.
Pinnacle Peak Trail
Lower Lakes Trail
Bench and Snow Lake Trail - Down the road on Stevens Canyon Road.
Check out the best Mt Rainier Hikes for additional trails to explore while in the park.
Lodging near Reflection Lake
National Park Inn - This historic lodge is located in the Longmire District of the park near the Nisqually entrance. You will have to drive up the mountain to reach the lake but it isn't that far considering you are already within the park.
Camping near Reflection Lake
The nearest campground is located seven miles west at Cougar Rock Campground.
Check out our Mt. Rainier Camping Guide to see all of the camping options within the park.
Additional Mount Rainier Resources
Top things to do Mount Rainier National Park - All the things you don't want to miss while in the park.
National Parks in Washington - Check out all of the parks you can visit in Washington
Most Visited National Park Sites - Find out if Mount Rainier made it on the most visited national parks list.
National Park Bucket List - How many bucket list national park adventures have you taken?