It's hard to believe you just get to be there. You should have to backpack for miles to get to such a place, carrying weight and striving mightily to get into the remotest back country; but no, you just drive out a dirt road eight miles from the pavement, and arrive in heaven. Heaven with flowers. Along the road on the inboard side was what my friend P. calls Botticelli meadows: slopes and sweeps and swathes of mixed flowers, patches of avalanche lilies and magenta paintbrush and sitka valerian and lupines and veronica and polemonium and dephinium, and lupines and lupines and lupines. Off the other shoulder of the road, views on an astonishing scale. Here is the best place to get a good look at Mount Olympus, no longer hidden by the Bailey Range but Out There. Extremely out there.
The road opened for the season July 4th weekend; it will be closed by the first snows, long about October. (map; pink for unpaved road, purple for trail)
We hiked about an hour along the trail, in dazzling sunshine, frequently flopping down in the middle of the trail, or stepping cautiously off-trail on patches of talus, with books and notebook for identifying wildflowers. We heard a marmot calling, looked out and first saw only a deer walking across a rise in the usual marmot hollow. Then we saw him, far away, then he vanished down a burrow.
It's pretty dry up there on the ridgetop, conditions always demanding for the plants and this past winter only 70% normal snowpack and a long dry spring. For lavish, the roadside slopes were much better, but here anyway many determined alpine flowers were doing their job of blooming and setting seed in the vastest of landscapes.
When we got back to the parking lot, we had our own private marmot. He was popping in and out of his burrow, and looking around, and watching us. Right. Next. To. The. Car.