News Release

Winter Recreation Opportunities at Mount Rainier National Park

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Date: December 17, 2020
Contact: Mount Rainier Media Line, 360-569-6562

Recent snowfall has set the stage for a shift to winter recreation at Mount Rainier National Park. Due to the ongoing pandemic, as well as normal changes related to winter operations, visitors should review the following information to ensure their visit is safe and enjoyable.

Weather at Mount Rainier

Visitors should understand that weather and road conditions at Mount Rainier are likely to be very different compared to where they may be traveling from. While traveling up to Paradise, drivers will encounter unpredictable winter alpine weather and icy roads. All visitors should start their planning with a review of the Mount Rainier Recreational Forecast. This localized forecast provides the most timely and accurate information for weather at various elevations and locations in the park. Please visit the park’s website for general information on safe winter recreation.

Roads, Gates, and Public Access

Many park roads and developed areas are typically closed in winter. Staff plow from the Nisqually entrance to Paradise starting at 5:00 am daily, with priority given to roads, critical facilities, and housing between in Longmire. Crews then clear the road between Longmire and Paradise, with a goal of opening the gate between Longmire and Paradise by 9:00 am. The actual opening time will vary. Each morning, a risk assessment matrix is used that considers current and projected weather, road and avalanche conditions, equipment status and available staffing. Unlike other roads and highways in the state, the road to Paradise is maintained without salt, with minimal sanding, and without blasting for avalanche control. In addition, the park’s small crew does not support a 24-hour operation. For safety, the gate to Paradise closes nightly, with uphill access ending at 4:00 pm to allow visitors to exit by 5:00 pm, when the gate is locked for the night. While staff understand that visitors are disappointed when the gate opens later than projected, public and staff safety is the highest priority. Please note that a clear parking lot at Paradise on the webcam doesn’t mean the road to Paradise are safe. All vehicles (including 4WD) must carry tire chains or other state-approved traction devices inside the park.

Sledding/Snowplay area

The popular groomed sledding area at Paradise (referred to as the “Snowplay” area) is not yet open for the season. The sledding area remains closed until snow depths are adequate to protect fragile vegetation from recreation and grooming equipment. Once snow reaches an adequate depth, and if public health guidelines can be met for operating the area safely, the park will announce a date for the Snowplay area opening. Once open, only plastic and soft-sided sled devices may be used (no wooden or metal sleds are allowed).

Paradise and Longmire Winter 2020 Operations Guide
 

Area

Open/Available

Closed/Unavailable

Paradise area
(5,400' elevation)

  • Buildings/warming stations. Visitors must be prepared to use their vehicles as a warming area.

  • Groomed Snowplay (sledding) area closed until adequate snow and COVID safety standards can be met.

  • Ranger-guided snowshoe walks

  • Food/beverages/gifts

  • Pets permitted in parking lots only and never on trails or snow. Service dogs allowed. 

  • Drones not allowed

  • Water filling stations

Longmire area
(2,760' elevation)

  • Sledding not allowed in Longmire

  • Pets permitted in parking lots only, and never on trails or snow.  Service dogs allowed. 

  • Drones not allowed

  • Camping prohibited in Longmire


Winter Camping

Camping is allowed in many areas throughout the park in winter with a valid permit. Access to camping is dependent on road conditions and snow depth.

Paradise Day Use Zone Winter Camping (Paradise area, outside of Wilderness)

  • Camping allowed with a permit when snow depth exceeds 5’ depth at the site. This snow depth was confirmed at Paradise on 12/17/20.

  • Sites must be >300’ from buildings, roads, established winter trails and the designated Snowplay area.

  • The maximum party size is 6 people (up to 12 people if from same household)

Winter Camping, parkwide (outside of Paradise)

  • Camping is allowed with a permit when snow depth exceeds 2’ depth at the site

  • Sites must be >200’ from roads and at > 300’ from lakes, streams and wetlands.

  • The maximum party size is 6 people (up to 12 people if from same household)

Backcountry travelers are encouraged to get updates on weather conditions, current and projected snow, and avalanche conditions before coming to the park. Additionally, backcountry travelers must heed warnings, and come prepared to survive winter conditions.Vehicle access to other areas of the park is closed for the winter, but the following areas remain open for non-vehicle based primitive recreation, with no services available. Please note that temporary closures may become necessary due to changing conditions:

  • Carbon River Road

  • Mowich Lake Road

  • Paradise Valley Road

  • Ricksecker Point Road

  • SR123 (Cayuse Pass)

  • SR410 (Chinook Pass)

  • Stevens Canyon Road

  • Sunrise Road

  • Westside Road

  • White River Road 

Getting Current information

All changes are announced on the park’s Twitter feed. Always check @MountRainierNPS before you travel for the latest status. Updates are posted after 7:00 am daily. A Twitter account is not required to view announcements. We also remind our visitors to please follow the “Three Ws” and Wear a mask, Watch your distance, and Wash hands frequently.Communities in the area provide great getaway experiences throughout the year. More information on the range of services available in and around the Mount Rainier area can be found on their websites. mtrainierguestservices.com,  visitrainier.com, mt-rainier.com,  destinationpackwood.com, discoverlewiscounty.com, stayrainier.com and whitepassbyway.com

www.nps.gov


About the National Park Service- More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.



Last updated: December 18, 2020

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Mailing Address:

55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304

Phone:

(360) 569-2211

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