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The calendar may say it's almost the first day of Spring, but at Mount Rainier National Park Spring is still a long way off.Despite the fact that Paradise currently has 203" of snow on the ground (121% above normal) staff at Mount Rainier is once again beginning the annual spring opening.This process begins in March at the lower elevations of the park, such as Longmire and Ohanapecosh and moves up the mountain to the higher elevations of White River and Sunrise in May or June as the snow melts or is plowed away.Effectively, this is like bringing small communities back to life every year.Roads that have been completely snowed in since last fall are cleared with bull dozers and large snow blowers; boulders, rocks and fallen trees need to be cleared from roads, ditches cleaned of debris and repairs made; snow shoveled from park buildings; water, sewer and heating systems that have been shut down since fall are reactivated; damage from winter's harsh conditions repaired and many other maintenance activities associated with getting the park's public facilities ready for another season of visitation.
SNOWPLAY AND SNOWSHOE WALKS ENDING MARCH 27
The public snow play area at Paradise will be staffed and groomed through Sunday, March 27.After that date the snow play runs will not be maintained and sledding will not be permitted in the park due to safety concerns associated with the mountainous terrain.
The ranger-led snow shoe walks will also end that same date - March 27.
The Paradise Inn is scheduled to open for the 2011 season on Friday, May 20.Reservations can be made by phone – 360-569-2275, or online at www.mtrainierguestservices.com
While snow play activities will be ending, great opportunities still exist for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the Paradise area.Before heading out, visitors are advised to check with park staff for current road, weather and avalanche conditions.Spring can be a wonderful time to experience the park, but dangerous conditions can exist.
For current road and weather information, visit the park's web page at www.nps.gov/mora, or call 360-569-2211 for recorded updates.For local business information web sites visit: visitrainier.com, mt-rainier.com, staycrystal.com, minerallake.com, www.destinationpackwood.com or www.mtrainierguestservices.com