For hikers on the Wonderland Trail there is the option to cache food at several locations along the 93 mile (150km) route. Food can either be mailed in advance of the hike, or you may drop it off at the cache location once you arrive in the park. In either case, food must be packaged in a plastic container to keep rodents out of your food supply and the container needs to be clearly labeled. The park does not courier food caches from one location to the other. The only locations in the park where you can purchase basic supplies are at the General Store at Longmire and the Day Lodge at Sunrise, if they are open.
Requirements for all food caches:
Food cache must be packaged in a plastic container to keep out rodents. Many choose to use a five gallon plastic bucket or a Rubbermaid-like container.
Printed label must be on the container including:
- Nameof permit holder - Location the cache will be picked up - Date the cache will be picked up
- Permit number
Fuel cannot be stored in food cache. Fuel must be stored separately. It is a fire and safety hazard. If you arrive at the park with fuel and you need to have it stored for the duration of the hike, fuel may be cached at the Longmire Wilderness Information Center at Longmire inside a special fuel locker, the food cache container located at the White River Campground near the ranger station, the food cache container at Sunrise or the food cache container at the Mowich Lake Patrol Cabin. As fuel cannot be mailed it must only be delivered in person. As the season progresses we often have a surplus of white gas (and some canister fuel). We are happy to give you the fuel for free if we have it.
You mustmail or hand-deliver your caches to the locations where you intend to pick them up. Park staff do not transport food caches around the park.
Cache at your own risk. Cache theft is extremely rare. Slightly less rare is mislabeling or mishandling of caches due to visitor – or ranger – error. The park makes no guarantees.
When your cache arrives at the Ranger Station it is logged into a Food Cache Logbook. We will have you sign for it when you come in to pick it up. If your food cache remains unclaimed by the time the Ranger Station closes for the season, it will be donated to local food banks.
Locations for caching food:
Longmire Wilderness Information Center (WIC) at Longmire - food storage bin located on the porch of the building.
White River Campground at White River - food storage bin located behind the Ranger Station at the White River Campground.
Sunrise Old Gas Station at Sunrise - food storage bin located at old gas station by the overnight parking area, east of the ranger station.
Carbon River Ranger Station by Mowich Lake - To prevent overflow of the food locker at the Mowich Lake patrol cabin, please do not hand-deliver food caches to Mowich Lake. Food caches for Mowich Lake should be mailed or hand-delivered to Carbon River Ranger Station; rangers will deliver your cache to the Mowich Lake cabin prior to your requested pickup date at Mowich.
Notes to consider when choosing food cache locations:
Food cache locations at Sunrise and Mowich Lake open late because of snow. Consider the White River Campground in lieu of Sunrise as an alternate location for caching your food if you are hiking before early July.
Facilities at Sunrise close for the season shortly after Labor Day (beginning of September). Consider White River Campground as an alternate location.
Ipsut Creek Campground is no longer a food cache location. Carbon River Road closed to vehicles after the severe flooding of November 2006 and so there is no vehicular access to Ipsut Creek Campground.
Food caches for Carbon River/Mowich Lake are best delivered no later than mid-September as the road is subject to closing for the season depending on weather conditions.
Hand-Delivering Your Food Cache
If it is less than 2 weeks before the start of your trip, it is recommended that you hand deliver your caches. Otherwise, the cache might not get there in time.
If you have an option for car-camping or lodging at or near the park, you can come in one day before your desired start date (recommended) and use that day to place your caches.
If you plan to arrive the same day that your trip starts, it is suggested to make the first night out a short one. In that case, you will have time to place your caches and then return to the start point for a short hike into your first camp. It stays light out late during the summer months.
Caching food is entirely up to the visitor. The park has no shuttle service to do that for them.
Caches for Mowich Lake should be delivered to Carbon River Ranger Station. Rangers will deliver the cache to Mowich Lake prior to your pickup date.
Mailing Your Food Cache It is suggested you mail your cache so that it arrives at least two weeks in advance of when you expect to pick up your cache in the park.
When your mailed cache arrives at a Ranger Station, it is logged into a Food Cache Logbook. Rangers will place it in the outdoor pick-up box prior to your pick up date. Unused caches will not be mailed back. If your food cache remains unclaimed more than two weeks after your trip ends, it will be donated to local food banks.
To send a food cache to Longmire Wilderness Information Center:
NOTE: UPS and FED EX are the only two options for mailing your food cache to Longmire. The U.S. Postal Service has stopped delivering mail to Longmire.
Mount Rainier National Park
1 NPS Warehouse
Longmire, WA 98397
ATTN: Longmire WIC
To send a food cache to White River Campground or Sunrise Visitor Center:
Sunrise and White River Campground food caches must be mailed to the White River Wilderness Information Center (WIC) at the address below. Rangers will deliver your food cache to either Sunrise or White River Campground before your planned pick-up date. Be sure to indicate on your container if you plan to pick up the cache at the White River Campground or Sunrise Visitor Center. There is no food cache pick-up at the White River WIC as it is miles from the nearest Wonderland Trail access point.
(Sending via USPS, UPS or FedEx) Mount Rainier National Park
White River WIC 70002 SR 410 East
Enumclaw, WA 98022
To send a food cache to Mowich Lake:
Food caches for pick up at Mowich Lake are sent to one of the two addresses below for Carbon River. Rangers will deliver your food cache to the food locker next to the Mowich Lake Patrol Cabin before the pick-up date you have written on your cache. If you do not write a pickup date on your cache, or the cache arrives close to the pickup date, it might not get to the Patrol Cabin in time.
(Sending via UPS or FedEx - PREFERRED) Mount Rainier National Park
Carbon River Ranger Station 35415 Fairfax Forest Reserve Road East
Carbonado, WA 98323
(Sending to Mowich Lake via U.S. Mail) Mount Rainier National Park
Carbon River Ranger Station P.O. Box 423
Wilkeson, WA 98396
Remember to include this informationon the food cache container: the name of the permit holder and the location the cache will be picked up. If you have your permit number and pick-up date, include that on the label.