The gate to Paradise at Longmire closes nightly.
Mon-Fri: Closes at 5:00 pm, depart Paradise no later than 4:30 pm to safely drive down the hill before the gate closes. Sat-Sun: Closes at 7:00 pm, depart Paradise no later than 6:30 pm. More »
The Snow Play area in Paradise is open on weekends and holidays.
The Paradise snow play area for sledding and sliding is open Sat-Sun, and on holidays. More »
Watch out for hazardous winter conditions!
As the amount of snow in the park increases, be aware of increased risk of Avalanches and Snow Immersion Suffocation. More »
Mammals and Life Zones
Imagine taking a very long walk from the edge of the park up to the summit of the mountain. What kinds of life zones would you see? What kinds of mammals would you find in each one? Looking at life zones can help us better understand and appreciate mammal adaptations and the struggle to survive- a trait all living things share.
NPS, Steve Redman
Lowland Forest Zone (LFZ) - You're in the lowland forest when you enter the park and find yourself sheltered by giant trees, dense shrubs and brush. The old-growth forests of this zone have trees towering 250 feet (76 m) or more, reaching diameters of 100 inches (2.54 m). Found between 2,000 and 3,000 feet in elevation (610-914 m), this zone is crowded with Douglas fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar.
Pacific Silver Fir Zone (PSFZ) - A subtle change in the types of trees and thickness of forest undergrowth might clue you in when you arrive at the edge of the Pacific silver fir zone. It stretches between 3,000 and 4,500 feet (914-1372 m) in elevation. The climate here is slightly cooler and wetter than in the lowland forest. You'll recognize Pacific silver fir, noble fir, western white pine, western hemlock, and Douglas fir trees all around you.
Subalpine Zone (SZ) - You know you've entered this zone when you see mountain hemlock trees. They have short, stubby needles like their cousins in the lowland forest, but these needles form beautiful star-shaped bundles on the branch. You'll still see a few Pacific silver fir, mixed in with whitebark pine. Stands of subalpine fir, Alaska yellow cedar, and Engelmann spruce will begin to appear as you climb higher. The subalpine zone is generally found between 4,500 and 6,500 feet (1372-1981 m). As you climb into this colder, snowier zone, the continuous forest gives way to patches of trees surrounded by meadows of colorful wildflowers, where deer and elk come to graze and browse in the sunshine.
Alpine Zone (AZ) - Here's one zone you can't miss- no trees grow here. Some parts of the alpine zone are covered with flowers and grasses in the summer; others are blanketed by snowfields that never melt and glaciers of blue ice. This zone starts between 6,000 and 7,500 feet (1828-2286 m) and goes all the way to the 14,410-foot (4392 m) summit of Mount Rainier!
Did You Know?
In 2012, 1,804 volunteers contributed 74,615 hours of service to Mount Rainier National Park. Find out how you can volunteer at Mount Rainier. More...