Mount Rainier Meadow RoversOur sub alpine meadows above Paradise and Sunrise are some of our most treasured natural resources here at Mount Rainier and though very beautiful, they are also very fragile. Trampling of the flowers can cause the plants to die or go dormant, which means they won't flower and reproduce, for several subsequent seasons. In order to preserve this ecosytem we are joined by many wonderful volunteers who roam the trails in these areas educating visitors about the importance of staying on the trails and taking nothing but pictures. Our Meadow Rover Volunteers are essential in the park's efforts to protect these beautiful landscapes.
Meadow Rover HandbookHere your will find specific information that relates specifically to volunteering as a Meadow Rover here at Mount Rainier National Park. Included is an overview of duties, procedures, and important information related to the Meadow Rover Program. For general volunteering information please consult our Volunteer Handbook.
Mount Rainier Meadow Rovers play an integral role in the park’s efforts to protect and preserve the health of our subalpine meadows. Meadow Rover duties include:
Every year ALL Meadow Rovers must complete a training/orientation prior to starting their Meadow Rover season. There are 2 best options for completion:
Basic Meadow Rover Training: This is required for all new rovers. We will cover the ins and outs of the Meadow Rover program, give you hands on experience using a park radio, and make sure you are well prepared for your first rove. Returning rovers may also attend to fulfill their seasonal training requirement.
Advanced Meadow Rover Training: These sessions are available to all returning rovers and any new rovers who have attended the Intro to Meadow Roving Orientation. We will cover updated procedures and contacts for the year as well has provide in depth mini trainings for improving your Meadow Rover skills like plant identification, communicating with various visitor demographics, and way finding. If there are specific things you would like included in these trainings, let the volunteer programs know.
Please see our calendar of events for specific training dates, times, and locations. If you are unable to make it to any of the times available, you must schedule a personal orientation with your Meadow Rover Coordinator.
In order to make our Meadow Rovers easily identifiable to the public our standard uniform includes a Khaki volunteer work shirt (long or short sleeve) with a volunteer and Meadow Rover patch on the sleeve. As well as a volunteer baseball cap or sun hat. These items are provided by the Volunteer Programs. Meadow Rovers are responsible for supplying their own pants (suitable for hiking) and hiking boots. Meadow Rovers should not be in open toed shoes or sandals of any kind. Sunglasses are permitted (and encouraged) but should be removed when talking with visitors.
Plan to get here early. Lots of visitors mean lots of traffic so either leave extra time in your schedule for travel or plan to arrive in the morning.
Have a route in mind for the day, but also have alternatives. We ask that our rovers try to cover the trails equally which helps avoid the trails being over saturated with people in uniform. We also ask that rovers try to rove in small groups when possible due to limited numbers of radios, since only one radio is required per group.Meadow Rovers have the option of scheduling their rove and reserving a radio ahead of time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line put “Roving Schedule, Reserve Radio” and make sure you include your name, roving dates, and that you are requesting to reserve a radio in the email. But of course we welcome spontaneous roves as well, so by no means do you have to make a reservation, your options just may be more limited.
Before you start your rove, when you get to either the Sunrise or Paradise Visitor Center you will
You are not officially roving unless you have signed in (exception being time spent roving within 1/2 mile of the parking lot in the mornings befor the visitor centers open).
Radios are required for roves that go any farther than a half-mile from the visitor center. Only one radio is required per party. Radios can be checked out from the Meadow Rover offices in the visitor centers. Meadow Rover Coordinators will be available to check out radios starting at 8:45am (Paradise) and 8:30am (Sunrise). If you wish to arrive and start roving before those times, you must stay within one half of a mile from the visitor centers, which is conviently where the majority of visitors are at that time of day anyway.
The Meadow Rover Training will include a hands on tutorial for using a park radio and you can reference Radio Protocol for outlined instruction.
Please have your radio on and at an audible volume at all times (you can turn it down when talking with visitors). The Meadow Rover Coordinators may try to reach you through radio so please be listening.
When you have completed your rove for the day you MUST check out at the visitor center, return your radio and counter, record how many people you made contact with, and sign the check out sheet (same as sign in sheet, different column). Failure to check out will result in initiation of search and rescue if contact is not made. If the Meadow Rover Coordinator has left before you return, you may check out at the visitor center front desk. You must check out 15 minutes before the visitor center closes which is 6:00pm for Sunrise and 7:00 pm (during peak season, 5:00 during shoulder season) for Paradise. The only exception being involvment with a search and rescue (SAR) which prevents you from reaching visitor center by by closing in which case you will check out with the SAR leader who will collect your radio.
As a park volunteer it is a real possibility that you may be the first on the scene of an accident, especially if you are working in the backcountry, and we want you to feel prepared and supported should a situation arise.Please try your best to stay calm and rational and keep those involved as well as any bystanders calm too.
Reporting an emergency is almost always the first action to be taken. 9-1-1 can be dialed from any park phone and they will initiate a response in your area or you can call dispatch at extension 6600. However, in areas where a phone is not conveniently located, emergencies should be reported to dispatch through park radio. The standard call for an emergency is "Dispatch, (your name or radio number), (your location), Emergency Traffic." Dispatch will then ask you for incident details and give you further instructions. Radios are carried by most staff and some volunteers. See the Radio tab for more information on standard radio practice.
Aside from reporting, volunteers are not required to give any assistance that would put them in danger or that requires a level of training they do not possess. If you have the training and skills to safely and effectively help the situation, send someone else to get help and then get involved. After thoroughly assessing the situation, if you are doubtful of your ability to help, wait for help to arrive. In all circumstances reporting the accident and getting help is top priority.
Detailed information on what to do in an emergency situation can be found on our volunteer emergency response page.
The physical properties of Mount Rainier as an active volcano with an active glacial system, extreme weather patterns, and high volumes of precipitation make the park inherently vulnerable to natural disaster. Our biggest threat in most areas of the park are Geohazards which are events resulting from geological activity in the park taking the form of mudslides, debri flows, and rapid flooding. It is the volunteer's responsibility to know the probability of these events in the area they are working in, the warning signs, and how to get to safety. Detailed information can be found on our Geohazards Page. Ask your supervisor about evacuation routes for your specific location as well as the lahar packs that are located in all office and visitor stations.
The park's safety goal of 0 incidents can only be realized if all park staff, volunteers, and visitors proactively work towards that goal. As a volunteer we ask that you are aware of your surroundings when in the park and speak up when you see something that is unsafe whether it relates to your job, the job of another employee or volunteer, or the experience of a visitor.
If the situation puts a person in immediate danger, gently approach that person and explain what you see and the possible consequences of the situation, then report to your supervisor. If the situation is not urgent, contact your supervisor, explain the situation and ask what you can do to help mitigate the risk.If you are in a situation where you feel you safety concerns are not being adequately addressed you can contact the volunteer program directly.
Radios are required for hikes farther than half a mile from the visitor center. We also encourage rovers to hike in pairs or groups so if an incident does occur you are not alone.
Be prepared. Always carry the 10 essentials and be prepared for quick weather changes. Dress accordingly in moisture wicking layers. If going to higher elevation make sure you are prepared with crampons and an ice axe or trekking poles.
Stop to look back from where you came from, take note of any turn offs, and have navigation tools in case you get turned around or fog rolls in.
Be wary of stream crossings and be cautious of walking on any snow that could potentially have water running underneath it.
If at any time conditions change or you feel unsure about going forward, turn around and head back to the visitor center. If storms roll in and there is chances of lightning, head back to the visitor center.
More on hiking safety.
Mount Rainier is home to many types of animals including large predators. No wildlife should ever be fed or approached. Our top predators here in the park are black bears and mountain lions. If you encounter one of these animals, back away slowly and distance yourself. If the animal is approaching you, do not run. Retreat slowly while making loud noise and attempt to appear as large as possible.
More on encountering wildlife.
ContactsFor scheduling roving days (three days in advance), reserving campsites (two weeks in advance), and general questions, please email MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov and please be specific in your subject line. Below are other points of contact and resources for rovers.
MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov is the primary point of contact for all Meadow Rovers. If you need to speak to a coordinator immediately, you can call the Paradise Meadow Rover Coordinator at 360-569-6574, or the Sunrise Meadow Rover Coordinator at 360-663-2201. Both numbers are only active during the summer season.
For general volunteer questions or concerns please contact the Volunteer Program.
Jackson Visitor Center: (360) 569-6571
Ohanapecosh Visitor Center: (360) 569-6581
Sunrise Visitor Center: (360) 663-2425
Longmire Museum: (360) 569-6575
Dispatch Phone Number: (360) 569-6600
ResourcesWhile there will undoubtedly be questions you can't answer, the more you understand about the park and the place you are in, the better you will be able to visitors and supply them with information they are looking for. Below are just some of the resources that can help expand your meadow rover knowledge.
Wildflowers of Mount Rainier
National Park Service Interpretive Training Classes - Many courses are free discount code is 07EPLY019
National Association for Interpretation
The Ten Essentials
First Aid Training
Reading Topographical Maps
Land Navigation Without Compasses and Maps
ADA Service Animal Guidelines
How far do we have to hike to reach the nearest snow?
It varies from year to year and month to month. North facing slopes will have snow longer than south facing slopes. Often there are pockets of snow at Glacier Vista (Paradise area) or Frozen Lakes (Sunrise area). Often these pockets are off trail and therefore out of reach. Remind visitors to stay on the trails and come back in winter/early spring to experience the snow.
How much snow did Mount Rainier receive last Winter?
The average snowfall at Paradise is about 680 inches. Paradise received 703 inches during the 2017-18 winter. 2015 was a record low year with only 287 inches, but Paradise has been known to receive 1122 inches. Mount Rainier held the record for the most recorded snowfall from 1972 to 1999 when Mount Baker got 1140 inches. However, we had so much snow that our rangers couldn't get out to read the gauges. There are no measurements for Sunrise because it is inaccessible in the winter.
Is the park open in the winter?
The road from the Nisqually entrance to Longmire and Paradise is open year round. The road is gated at Longmire and opens every morning around 9:00 am and closes at 5:00. This schedule is completely weather dependent and subject to change. The other roads in the park open in the spring in summer usually in counter clockwise order. All visitors are required to carry chains in the park from November 1 to April 1.
When will the Mountain come out?
Check the weather forecast (available in the visitor centers). Weather and views can change very quickly, so its all just a guess.
What mountains am I seeing in the distance?
At Paradise Mt. St. Helens is to the southwest, Mt. Adams to the southeast, and Mt. Hood is the pointy peak due south. At Sunrise Mt. Adams is south 45 miles, Mt. Hood is south 100 miles, and Mount Baker is south 130 miles.
Why aren't pets allowed on trails?
Pets can damage the resource. They can be harmful to wildlife by causing stress and spreading disease. The pet's odor can drive wild animals out of the area and ruin food sources by defecating on vegetation. Pets can also be seen as prey for larger animals. There are many good trails in the neighboring National Forests and State Parks. Ask the visitor centers for handouts.
Where is the trail to the ice caves? Are they open?
The Paradise ice caves in the Paradise Glacier were legendary for their beauty. Unfortunately, the glacier has dwindled significantly in recent decades and the caves became hazardous to enter resulting in their closure in the 1980s. Now they are completely gone. The glacier itself is now a stagnant ice mass that is no longer moving. Visitors can still hike the Paradise Glacier trail which is a five mile round trip from the parking lot.
Why aren't mountain bikes allowed on the trails?
Mountain bikes damage the resource and create a conflict with other trail users. Bikes are only allowed where cars can go.
What happened to the old Jackson Visitor Center?
Because the old JVC was so energy inefficient, it was torn down and replaced in 2008 by the newer, larger, highly energy efficient visitor center you see today. Many volunteers helped replant 56,000 plants to restore the area after construction.
When was Mount Rainier first climbed?
In 1857 August Kautz and for companions made the first documented climb attempting to reach the summit. Kautz made it to about 14,000 ft after he had to turn back (his party had turned back much lower) because of exhaustion and changing weather. Philemon Van Trump and Hazard Stevens were the first documented to successfully summit guided by James Longmire to Bear Prairie and to Paradise by a native guide named Sluiskin. However, there are oral records of natives reaching the summit long before.
How many people climb Mount Rainier every year?
About ten to twelve thousand people attempt to summit each year and only about half of them are successful usually due to weather and altitude sickness. The peak climbing window is Memorial Day through Labor Day.
What is the most popular route to summit?
Paradise > Camp Muir > Disappointment Cleaver or Ingraham Direct > Summit OR White River Campground > Glacier Basin > Camp Schurman > Emmons Glacier > Summit
Where is Camp Muir and Camp Schurman?
Camp Muir is located at the eastern base of Gibaltar Rock. There is a ranger cabin, guide cabin (dorm), guide hut (kitchen), public shelter, and outhouse. Several rangers rotate living at Muir in the summer. Camp Schurman is located on the ice behind Steamboat Prow. There is a ranger rescue hut and a solar toilet. Several rangers take turns carrying supplies and staying for several days during the summer.
Why do climbers leave Camp Muir/Schurman in the dark?
Climbers start their final ascent around midnight while it is cool and the ice is frozen. This gives them extra traction and there is less chance of rock and ice fall in the early morning.
How far is the summit as the raven flies?
Five miles form Jackson Visitor Center or seven miles from the Sunrise Visitor Center (five miles from Burroughs).
How long does it take to climb the mountain?
Under ideal circumstances it usually takes two days and one night from Paradise which is a 9 mile one way route with 9,000 feet elevation gain. It usually takes two to three days from White River. The route is slightly shorter but steeper.
How tall is Mount Rainier?
Mount Rainier is 14,410 ft or 4,392 meters in altitude. It is the fifth tallest peak in the lower 48 states behind Mt. Whitney in California (14,505 ft) and three peaks in Colorado (14,427 - 14,440 ft).
Where can I hike to touch a glacier?
You can't. Crevasses, rockfall, and unpredictable flooding make glaciers very dangerous. Special training, equipment, and permits are required for all glacial travel.
Where can I see a glacier?
At Paradise you can take the Nisqually Vista, Glacier Vista, and Morraine trails to get a closer look. At White River the Emmons Morraine trail gives an excellent view of the Emmons Glacier as do the Emmons Vista, Glacier Overlook, and Burroughs Mountain trails from Sunrise.
What is the difference between a glacier and a snowfield?
A glacier is a solid mass of ice that moves. A snowfield is just an accumulation of snow that persists throughout the year.
Why are glaciers blue?
Glaciers are blue for the same reason lakes and the skies are blue. Glacial ice is so dense that no cracks or bubbles are present to reflect light so the glacier absorbs all light except blue which is reflected back to us.
How tall is the snout of the Nisqually Glacier?
About 150 ft high.
That is the largest glacier?
There are 25 named glaciers on Mount Rainier and the Emmons glacier has the largest area of 4.3 sq miles. The Carbon glacier has the largest volume of 0.2 cubic miles. There is a full cubic mile of ice and snow on top of Mount Rainier.
How thick are the glaciers?
The Carbon Glacier is the thickest at 700 ft (100 ft taller than the Space Needle!). The Nisqually Glacier is about 400 ft deep.
What is the brown/black/grey stuff on the glaciers?
Fallen rock, debris, and pollution all make the glaciers look "dirty."
Are the glaciers receding?
All of Mount Rainier's glaciers are currently receding, but that can change year to year and the rate is different for every glacier. The Nisqually is receding at 1 meter every 10 days while the Emmons glacier is receding at 1 meter every 30 days.
When did Mount Rainier last erupt?
The last steam eruption is said to have occurred in 1894 with the last lava eruption occurring about 1,100 years ago and the eruption that caused the mountain to lose its peak occurring about 2,000 years ago. The mountain is still considered active (although currently in a dormant phase) and is expected to erupt again.
What is the furry animal I saw running across the meadow?
Probably a hoary marmot. They hibernate eight to nine months of the year and feed on flowers in the summer months.
What can I feed the animals?
Nothing. Feeding wildlife is illegal and can cause sickness, human dependence, and aggressive behavior.
What's that low throbbing sound I hear?
That is the mating call of the male Sooty Grouse who dances along with his call to attract a mate. You can see one in the JVC.
Where can I see goats?
Almost anywhere in the park with steep rocky slopes between 4,000 and 8,000 ft elevation.
Where can I see bears?
There are between 150 and 350 black bears in the park. They can often be seen off the Lakes Trail, Bench and Snow Lakes, and Klapatche Park areas at Paradise, and the Golden Lakes, Glacier Basin, and Summerland areas at Sunrise. These bears are omnivorous and eat almost anything but they love huckleberry. If you see a bear, stay calm, make lots of noise and stay away from the bear's path of travel. Bears will often flea and rarely encounter, the only exception being if you are between a mother and her cubs.
Where can I see cougars/mountain lions?
Although present, mountain lions are rarely seen in the park. They have been sighted on the west side of the park and near Stevens Canyon road. DO NOT RUN if you encounter a cougar. Pick up small children and make yourself as big and scary as possible then back away slowly.
What's the stuff that looks like moss or hair hanging from the trees?
That is a lichen called Goat's Beard (green) or Horse Hair (brown). It is partly photosynthetic and gets its moisture from the air. It does not harm the trees.
Where is the best place to see wildflowers?
Everywhere depending on the season and the year. Check at the visitor center for up to date reports.
When will the flowers be in peak bloom?
Depending on the year it can be from mid July through early August. Some years many species bloom at once while other years they are more spaced apart.
Last updated: June 11, 2021