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Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga advises that April 18 – 22 is designated as National Park Week across the nation. In celebration of this week, the Secretary of the Interior has announced that admission to all National Parks will be free during the period of April 16 through April 24, 2011.
While many of the areas and roads at Mount Rainier remain closed because of snow, the southwest area of the park (State Route 706), including Longmire and Paradise is open. The Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise will be open daily during this period, offering visitor information, food service and gift shop. The National Park Inn at Longmire is open year round offering overnight accommodations, dining and a gift shop. The Carbon River area is currently snow free and provides a great opportunity for hikers and bicyclists.
Local businesses in the gateway communities surrounding the park are also open and ready for the beginning of the 2011 visitor season. For more information visit these websites: www.visitrainier.com, www.mt-rainier.com, staycrystal.com, www.destinationpackwood.com, www.minerallake.com, or www.mtrainierguestservices.com
The road from Longmire to Paradise is closed nightly at Longmire and reopens each day after the roads have been plowed and maintained. If unusually heavy snowfall occurs or other conditions are present making the road unsafe, it may be closed to the public at any time. Through April 30 park visitors must carry tire chains in their vehicles when traveling on park roads as Spring weather in the mountains is very unpredictable and sudden snow storms may necessitate chains for safe travel.
At Paradise there is still over 19 feet of snow on the ground! Longmire currently has approximately 16 inches on the ground. The snow play (sledding) area at Paradise has closed for the season and the ranger-led snow shoe walks have concluded. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are still very popular activities during the Spring season. Check with Rangers for current weather and avalanche conditions before heading out on your trip.
For recorded park information on roads and conditions call 360-569-2211 and follow the menu. Road and weather conditions are updated as conditions change. Information is also available on the Mount Rainier web page – www.nps.gov/mora. Web cams showing current conditions at Paradise can be accessed from the web page – scroll down to Paradise web cameras.