Hike Mount Rainier in the spring at lower elevations to enjoy the blooms of the delicate and elusive calypso orchid in the moist woodlands. Summer is an explosion of life. The growing season is short and fast after the snowmelt, and seasonal animal visitors move up to the alpine zone. By late July, when most of the snow is gone, a rainbow of wildflowers carpets the subalpine meadow and snowbed buttercups bloom at the tree line. From July through September, hikers are allowed above 5,000 feet. The Wonderland Trail is a strenuous, yet comprehensive way to explore the park. The 93-mile trail circles the mountain, passing through valley forests, glacial streams, alpine meadows, and mountain passes. This is a 10- to 14-day trek on foot. Visit the ice caves. By early fall, the snows and stormy winds lock life away until spring. While many animals sleep through winter, the hunting fox and snowshoe hare stay active. The roads from Nisqually to Paradise and from the southern park boundary to Ohanapecosh are open during the winter. Call the Park Headquarters (located near Ashford) for road and weather information, 360-569-2211 or visit www.mt-rainier.com.