Get Up Early, Stay Up Late
Mt. Rainier is not too far from where I live, so it has become a frequent destination for me along with lots of other people from the surrounding area. Something that has always puzzled me about many of Rainier's visitors though is that they totally miss out on the beautiful light that sunrise and sunset bring to the mountain. The typical day trip seems to go something like this: get up and drive down to Mt. Rainer after breakfast, do some sightseeing, stopping at Paradise or Sunrise for a picnic lunch. Then head home by mid-afternoon and call it a day. People assume that because they've seen the mountain at mid-day that they've seen the mountain. But that's the worst time of day to take photographs, especially ones of a glaringly bright snow-covered mountain. This same reflective surface at sunrise or sunset however turns the most amazing shades of orange, pink and magenta. Sunrise in particular also has a lack of the haze that sometimes develops as the day progresses, even in a National Park. Reflections on water are only visible when there is no wind, and there's a certain stillness associated with sunrise and sunset that is often not present during the day. Wildlife as well seem to prefer the cooler temperatures of these "golden hours."
My typical routine consists of getting up while it's still dark so I can be to where I'm going before dawn, then working until mid-morning or so when the pace slows down quite a bit until close to sunset. If I'm tired from getting up early, I may even take a nap during the afternoon, avoiding most of the crowds at the same time. I may also spend some time scouting locations to return to that evening or the following morning.
It may be rough getting up at 3 AM in the summer, but it can be rewarding. Try it and see for yourself. You'll be glad you did when you get your pictures back.