‘Absolutely ridiculous’: Stargazers trample Mt. Rainier National Park, says photographer

A late-night trip to Mt. Rainier National Park to stargaze Saturday night took a chaotic turn.

Witnesses reported hundreds showed up at the Sunrise Visitor’s Center to catch a glimpse of a meteor shower. Photographer, Austin Jackson shared photos of the unruly group on Instagram calling the scene “absolutely ridiculous.”

“Anyone who has visited knows how important and fragile the wildflower meadows are to Mt. Rainier. Hundreds of people had no problem setting up all along the meadows to witness the meteor shower,” wrote Jackson. “At the same time, those people had absolutely zero regard for the National Park, or the other visitors.

Pictures shared by Jackson show cars parked haphazardly in the middle of the road, many blocking in others trying to get out.

“We talked to one woman who had been trapped for three hours as she had been triple parked,” said Jackson. “Then, we talked to the ranger who mentioned that he had ran out of warning stickers to put on cars, and that it takes too long to write a ticket so he wasn’t. Shame on the people visiting for their absolute disregard for the National Park itself and the other visitors, and shame on the park service and law enforcement for not being able to protect the park and shut the gates to stop the bleeding.”

Other witnesses told us they believe some people lit bonfires in the alpine meadows.

Officials at Mt. Rainer National Park responded to the incident with this statement:

“Mount Rainier National Park’s night sky viewing is enjoyed responsibly by thousands of visitors every year and the majority of visitors follow posted guidance to stay on trails to avoid damaging the beautiful yet fragile alpine meadows. The recent Perseid meteor shower peak attracted many visitors at both Sunrise and Paradise.

Impacts to the alpine meadows are currently being assessed, and the park is reviewing reports of damage to the Sunrise wildflower meadows during the evening activities. Alpine wildflowers have just a few weeks to grow and produce seeds, while also serving as food to pollinators and other animals. The plants’ roots, leaves and flowers can be destroyed by off-trail travel, and trampled plants may never return. Scars on the landscape can take decades to regrow due to the short growing season and harsh alpine climate.”

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