Avoid Summer Congestion

Cars crowd a parking lot.
Parking lots at Sunrise (pictured) and Paradise can fill up quickly on busy summer days.

NPS Photo

The park is experiencing extremely high visitation that is creating long wait times at the Nisqually and White River entrances, and heavy road and parking lot congestion.

On weekends, the Paradise and Sunrise parking lots are filled by late morning. At Paradise, overflow parking is available at the Paradise Picnic Area (within walking distance to the visitor center, on the right as you approach Paradise) and along the Paradise Valley Road. The Paradise Valley Road may require a long uphill walk to access the visitor center, restrooms, and area trails. When the Sunrise parking area is filled to capacity, vehicles are held at the White River Entrance and then slowly metered in as other vehicles depart.

A full parking lot beneath forested slopes and rocky peaks.
Paradise parking area filled to capacity by 1:00 pm, July 11, 2017.

NPS Photo

Use these tips to have an enjoyable visit and avoid the worst of the congestion:

  • Visiting on weekdays, and arriving in early morning or late afternoon, can help avoid crowds, long entrance station lines and delays, and difficulty finding a place to park.
  • Have an alternate plan and destination in mind if long lines and waits are encountered entering the park. Experience the sights and activities of gateway communities during peak hours and weekends. U.S. Forest Service lands and the Crystal Mountain Resort provide nearby destination alternatives. Download the NPS App and download Mount Rainier National Park's section so that you can use the app offline to find alternate locations within the park.
  • Using an annual park or interagency pass can minimize time spent at the entrance station and keep the line moving. Another option is purchasing the seven day or annual Mount Rainier National Park pass online through Recreation.gov and printing the pass before you visit. You may purchase an interagency pass online and have it mailed to you. NOTE: Beginning May 26, 2023, Mount Rainier National Park will move to cashless fee collection and accept only electronic card payments for entrance fees and campgrounds. Electronic payment reduces transaction times, saves money, and improves accountability
  • Check road status for closures or other delays that may affect your travel plans.
  • Check Twitter (account not required to view) for congestion updates. The park will be tweeting more frequent wait time information on weekends and holidays to assist with trip planning.
  • At the Nisqually Entrance, please be mindful not to block driveways of neighboring residences and businesses along SR706 in Ashford. Visitors who typically enter via the park’s southwestern entrance near Ashford may also consider the southeastern entrance near Packwood as a shorter-wait alternative on busy weekends during July and August.
  • As wait times increase to enter the park each summer weekend, break up your trip by visiting the public restroom in Elbe on SR706 at the WSDOT-managed Safety Rest Area. In addition, visitors with children may enjoy letting them stretch their legs at the Ashford County Park located at 29801 SR706 in Ashford. The 80-acre park has walking trails, a playground with a large play structure, balancing elements, infant swings, and regular swings. There is plenty of parking, and public restrooms are located next to the playground.

Summer Congestion at Sunrise

A parking lot full of cars and people with a sunny sky and Mount Rainier in the back. A parking lot full of cars and people with a sunny sky and Mount Rainier in the back.

Left image
Sunrise parking lot after being opened to the public.
Credit: NPS/Ivie Metzen

Right image
Sunrise parking lot before being opened to the public.
Credit: NPS/Ivie Metzen

Slide the arrows either direction to see the Sunrise parking area before and after spring opening.

Last updated: May 23, 2023

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55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304


360 569-2211

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