Mount Rainier National Park is a popular place to enjoy winter activities. The mountain receives abundant snowfall and the scenery is spectacular. In winter, recreational opportunities are numerous. A winter visit to Mount Rainier can include ranger-guided snowshoe walks, Paradise snowplay, camping, snowboarding and skiing.
More information on winter recreation is available in the winter issue of the park's Tahoma newspaper. The Winter Recreation publication includes a winter recreation map of Paradise with marked trails and other useful winter recreation information. The Winter Camping brochure provides information for those wishing to camp at Paradise. For larger groups wishing to snow camp at Paradise, please read the Winter Group Camping brochure. Learn about winter hiking opportunities at Longmire in the Longmire Winter Trails brochure.
With the arrival of snow in late October, Mount Rainier's beauty changes and so do its challenges. Visitors planning to travel to the park in winter should familiarize themselves with winter travel tips, road status, weather forecast, and be prepared for potential winter hazards. Follow Mount Rainier's twitter feed for park road status and Longmire gate opening/closing status and other announcements. For any questions on winter activities and snow conditions, contact the Longmire Information Center at 360-569-6575.
Winter Camping Food Storage
For general information on winter camping download the Winter Camping publication.
Snowplay - Sledding and Sliding
The snowplay area at Paradise is generally open late December through mid-March, depending on snow. Sufficient snowpack is required to protect the meadow vegetation before the snowplay area can be opened. Sledding and sliding are permitted only in the designated snow play area at Paradise. Trees, tree wells, and cliffs make other areas dangerous. For everyone's safety, use "soft" sliding devices-flexible sleds, inner tubes, and saucers. No hard toboggans or runner sleds. Note: Check the status of road and avalanche conditions before leaving home. Remember all vehicles are required to carry tire chains when traveling in the park in winter.
Update 1/12/16: The snowplay/sledding area in Paradise is OPEN daily, staffed weekends and holidays, weather and snow conditions permitting. Check MountRainierNPS on Twitter for changes in snowplay/sledding status (a Twitter account is not required to view).
Ranger-Guided Snowshoe Walks
Join a park ranger to learn the art of snowshoeing and discover how plants, animals, and people adapt to the challenging winter conditions at Mount Rainier.
When: Update 1/4/16. First-come, first-served guided snowshoe walks are available December 23, 2015 through March 27, 2016. Snow conditions permitting, the walks are generally offered on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and daily during winter break from December 23 to January 3. After early January, walks are only offered on Saturdays and Sundays, and holidays. Walks start at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and meet inside the Jackson Visitor Center (near the information desk) in Paradise. Sign-ups begin 1 hour in advance of scheduled time.
Distance & Time: Snowshoe walks cover approximately 1.8 miles in 2 hours.
Group size: Snowshoe walks are limited to 25 people, eight years old or older, on a first-come, first-served basis. A sign-up sheet is available at the Jackson Visitor Center information desk one hour before each walk. All snowshoe walk participants must be present at sign-up.Organized Groups: Update 1/4/16. Reservable snowshoe walks for groups will begin January 2. Snowshoe walks are available to organized groups of 10 to 25 people by reservation only. Group snowshoe walks begin at 2:00 p.m. on the days that snowshoe walks are offered to the general public (see above). For more information, or to make reservations for a group snowshoe walk, call (360) 569-6575 between 9:30 am-4:00pm, or visit the Longmire Information Center or Jackson Visitor Center.
Equipment: For an enjoyable snowshoe walk, you will need:
Skiing and Snowboarding
To avoid damaging exposed vegetation, a minimum of 5 feet of snow is strongly advised for skiing and snowboarding. Obtain further information at the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise (weekends and holidays) and the Longmire Information Center (daily).
In the southwest corner of the park, snowmobiles are permitted for 6.5 miles along the Westside Road from its junction with the main park road as far as Round Pass. Beyond Round Pass, the Westside Road is closed to snowmobile use. Snowmobiles are also permitted on all the road loops of Cougar Rock Campground. The campground is closed to overnight use during winter and the roadway is left unplowed. Contact a park ranger at the Longmire Information Center for maps and additional snowmobile information.
On the north side of the park, no ranger station is open in the winter. The US Forest Service District Office in Enumclaw provides information and maps for White River, Carbon River, and Mowich Lake areas. For more information, call the USFS District Office in Enumclaw at (360) 825-6585. Highway 410 is closed near its junction with Crystal Mountain Ski Area road, at the north park boundary.
Snowmobiles are permitted on the 12-mile section of unplowed road from the north park boundary on Highway 410 to the White River Campground. Snowmobiles may not continue on Hwy 410 south of the White River Road turnoff. They are also prohibited from proceeding beyond the closure at the White River Campground road junction towards Sunrise. Snowmobiles must stay on the road corridor; they are not allowed to proceed beyond the campground towards Glacier Basin. Be aware of avalanche danger and the weather forecast.
Wilderness permits, required for all backcountry camping, and climbing registration cards are available at the north boundary arch on Highway 410 or by self registration at the Ohanapecosh Ranger Station.