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The winter holiday season at Mount Rainier is upon us. The park is open daily and throughout the winter the road to Paradise is open Thursday through Monday, weather conditions permitting. From December 21 through January 1 the road to Paradise and the Jackson Visitor Center will be open daily. The National Park Inn at Longmire is open daily year round offering overnight accommodations, dining, a gift shop and winter equipment rentals.
With the heavy snowfall in the mountains this week and still continuing, Mount Rainier's road crew personnel have been focused on keeping the snow removed from park roads from the Nisqually Entrance, Longmire and Paradise areas. With all crews committed to snow removal, grooming of the Paradise snowplay area has been delayed and may not open on the 21st, but crews are hopeful for the weekend.
Weather and snow conditions permitting, snowshoe walks will begin tomorrow, December 21, and run through March 31, 2013. The walks are offered on weekends, holidays, and daily from December 21 through January 1. Walks start at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and meet inside the Jackson Visitor Center (near the information desk) in Paradise.
Distance & Time: Snowshoe walks cover approximately 1.5 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: Snowshoe walks are available to organized groups of up to 25 people by reservation only. Group snowshoe walks begin at 10:30 a.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 or visit the Longmire Information Center or Jackson Visitor Center.
Equipment: For an enjoyable snowshoe walk, you will need:
Snowshoes are provided by the park only for those attending the ranger-guided snowshoe walks, and only for the duration of the walk. A $4.00 donation from each snowshoe walk participant helps the park provide snowshoe walks and repair and replace snowshoes. Additionally, the park concessioner rents snowshoes to anyone wishing to snowshoe in the park; check at the Longmire General Store for availability and rental rates. Or you may use your own snowshoes.
4. suitable boots (you will sink into the snow even wearing snowshoes)
Visitors planning to come to the park should check for current weather and road conditions. Recorded information is available by calling 360-569-2211 or via the park's social media pages. 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.
The gateway communities surrounding the park are also open for business throughout the winter offering great opportunities for winter getaways. For more information visit their websites at: www.visitrainier.com, www.mt- rainier.com, www.staycrystal. com,
www.destinationpackwood.com, w ww.minerallake.com, or www. mtrainierguestservices.com
If you're planning on going into the backcountry wilderness or climbing, be aware that winter camping and climbing are much more demanding and hazardous than in summer. Don't venture out when storms are expected and get updates on avalanche conditions at the Northwest Avalanche Center web site - www.nwac.us before going out.
Carry the Winter 10 Essentials and know how to use them:
1. Shovel (dig a snow cave)
2. Full Length Insulated Sleeping Pad
3. Stove and Fuel (melt water)
4. Heat Packs
5. Goggles and Wool/Pile Hat
6. Gloves (base/mid/shell layers)
7. Avalanche Transceiver
8. Avalanche Probe
9. Reliable Weather & Avalanche Forecasts
10. GPS (with extra batteries)
Park visitors are reminded that all vehicles are required to carry tire chains when traveling in the park during the winter season (Nov 1 - May 1). This requirement applies to all vehicles (including four-wheel drive), regardless of tire type or weather conditions.
The staff at Mount Rainier National Park wishes you Happy Holidays!