Mount Rainier Winter Access Schedule 2014-2015

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Date: December 18, 2014
Contact: Tracy Swartout, Acting Superintendent, 360-569-6502

Acting Superintendent Tracy Swartout advises that Mount Rainier has transitioned to winter hours of operation and service. Warmer than average temperatures, several flood events, and high winds marked an interesting end to November and start to December. Winter recreation demand will be increasing as temperatures cool and the holidays approach. The entire Mount Rainier Team, including its concessionaires, partners, and scores of volunteers, is preparing for winter operations and visitors. 

PLEASE NOTE: The Paradise snowplay area is not open due to insufficient snow depth on the ground. A minimum of 5 feet of snowpack is needed to avoid resource damage to the fragile meadows as well as for visitor safety. Until there is significant snowfall and winter snowplay staffing is on board, there is no snowplay available in the park.

The entire park is open for visitor use throughout the winter, including overnight winter camping with a valid permit. However access may be dependent on road conditions. Campers should plan their travels with an understanding of nightly gate closures. Overnight camping in vehicles is not permitted in the park. Backcountry travelers are encouraged to get updates on current and projected snow, avalanche and weather conditions before coming to the park, heed warnings, and come prepared to survive winter conditions. For winter camping reservations call 360-569-6575 between 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

As in past years, the main gate at the southwest entrance to the park (Nisqually) will remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week unless hazardous conditions require a temporary closure. The higher elevation gate, located on the road between Longmire and Paradise is closed nightly to ensure visitor and staff safety. Rangers and Roads staff evaluates road, weather, avalanche and staffing conditions daily when making a decision on whether it is safe to open the road above Longmire. The target open hours for the road above Longmire will continue to be 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., with the uphill gate between Longmire and Paradise closing at 4:00 p.m. to allow time for visitors and staff to exit safely. When the Paradise gate is closed, access to Longmire is still open through the Nisqually Entrance.

State Routes 410 and 123, Stevens Canyon and the Mowich Lake Roads are closed for the winter. 

On December 12, park staff began sending out projected upper gate opening time via Twitter at approximately 7:30 a.m. Due to changing conditions or new information, it may be necessary to revise this time. In general, and unless updated, the target opening time for the road above Longmire during the winter will be 9:00 a.m. and the closing time will be 5:00 p.m., with the uphill gate between Longmire and Paradise closing at 4:00 p.m. to allow time for visitors and staff to exit safely.

Two snowplow operator vacancies have recently been filled and winter seasonal employees will be coming on board soon. The goal is to provide seven day a week access to Paradise. However, access is subject to change based on weather and road conditions, unexpected staffing levels or extenuating circumstances such as search and rescue incidents, vehicle accidents, flooding, tree falls, etc.

Visitors are reminded that all vehicles (including 4WD) are required to carry tire chains when traveling in the park.  Tire chains are available at the Summit House in Ashford and at the National Park Inn in Longmire. Road conditions can deteriorate quickly at any time and mandatory chain use may be required even for 4WD vehicles.

The Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center is open weekends and holidays only. Operating hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. From December 20 through January 1, the JVC will be open daily. During this "winter break/holiday period", the Longmire Information Center will be closed with staff reassigned to Paradise.

Ranger guided snowshoe walks are scheduled to begin December 24 at Paradise. Walks begin at the Jackson Visitor Center at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.  Sign-ups begin one hour in advance of each walk at the JVC information desk. Participants should dress warmly (layers), have warm hats and gloves and wear adequate footwear for snowshoes. Sunglasses and sunscreen are also advised. Beginning January 3, reserved group snowshoe walks will begin. These walks are from 2:00 p.m. –to 4:00 p.m. on weekends and holiday periods when the visitor center is open. Group reservations can be made by calling 360-569-6575 between 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. If the gate opening between Longmire and Paradise is delayed, snowshoe walk times may be adjusted or led from the Longmire Information Center.

The Longmire area will remain open seven days a week, barring major storm events. At the historic National Park Inn, lodging, food, gifts, snowshoe and ski rentals are available. For reservations call 360-569-2275 or visit www.mtrainierguestservices.com.

General park information, including winter activity guidance, backcountry permits, and books and maps from Discover Your Northwest are available at the Longmire Information Center (historic Longmire Administration Building) when it is open.

Businesses in the gateway communities are also open throughout the winter and offer great get-away opportunities during the holiday period. Check these websites for contact information:  www.visitrainier.com, www.mtrainier.com, www.mtrainierguestservices.com, www.minerallake.com,www.staycrystal.com, or www.destinationpackwood.com.

There is plenty to do in and around Mount Rainier, any day of the week! Visitors are encouraged to obtain up-to-the-minute updates on road conditions and restrictions by calling the park at 360-569-2211 for recorded information. Information is also available through the park's official website www.nps.gov/mora and social media pages. Mount Rainier webcams can also be viewed at this website.

Join the Mount Rainier community on Facebook - find out breaking news and road status updates through Mount Rainier's Twitter feed - explore the park and behind-the-scenes operations with our videos on Youtube and share your own photos of Mount Rainier with other visitors in the Mount Rainier Flickr group.

-NPS-

 



Last updated: February 28, 2015

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55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304

Phone:

(360) 569-2211

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