Tire Chain FAQ

Mount Rainier National Park Tire Chain Requirement:

All vehicles are required to carry tire chains when traveling in the park during the winter season (November 1 - May 1). This requirement applies to all vehicles (including four-wheel-drive), regardless of tire type or weather conditions.


Tire Chain Requirement Frequently Asked Questions

Where and when do I need to carry tire chains?

Between November 1 and May 1, all vehicles in Mount Rainier National Park are required to carry tire chains. This requirement applies to all vehicle types in all weather and road conditions.

What about sunny days?

The chain requirement applies to all vehicles and all days between November 1 and May 1, regardless of weather and road conditions. Weather in the park is notoriously quick to change, and sudden storms can appear with little or no warning.

Why do I need to carry tire chains?

A set of chains in every vehicle means that every vehicle is prepared and equipped for changing winter weather conditions. Drifting snow and whiteout conditions can occur at any time. Having chains available in the event of a storm will give each driver an extra margin of safety, allowing the road to remain open longer even when conditions are changing.

What if my owner's manual tells me not to install tire chains?

The requirement to carry tire chains applies to all vehicles, regardless of make or model. Vehicle manufacturers that caution against traditional metal tire chains (e.g. Subaru) do market cable chains that are specifically made for their vehicles. Cable chains can be a good option for vehicles with limited tire clearance.

What if I have a rental car?

Tire chains are required on all vehicles traveling in the park, including rental cars. However, some stores may accept returns of unused chains.

I have a 4-wheel or all-drive car- do I still need to have chains?

Yes. Four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles must carry chains. While vehicles with all-wheel drive capability and approved traction tires do have enhanced traction, during the most extreme conditions this is not sufficient for safe vehicle operations. Chains provide optimal traction in the most challenging road conditions.

Mount Rainier National Park requirements are similar to Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 204-24-050, which states that, for vehicles under 10,000 gross vehicle weight:

"When "chains required" signs are posted, all wheel drive vehicles shall be exempt from the chain requirement when all wheels are in gear and are equipped with approved traction devices as specified in WAC 204-24-020 provided that tire chains for at least one set of drive tires are carried in the vehicle."

Vehicles over 10,000 pounds must carry a second set of chains and chain up whenever traction tires or chains are required.

Washington State Law does not require motorists to carry tire chains over the major mountain passes- why is it different here?

During extreme weather conditions, Washington state does require chains, even on all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles, as noted above. In addition, Mount Rainier's roads are unlike most of Washington's in a variety of ways. At 5,400 feet above sea level Paradise is significantly higher in elevation than most of Washington's highway passes and roads. Furthermore, Mount Rainier's roads are scenic park access roads and are not intended to be as wide or have as many safety pullouts as a state highway.

Is there anything I can use instead of chains?

Cable chains are typically thinner and lighter than traditional tire chains and may be more easily installed. We recommend checking with your local mechanic or tire store. Autosocks are also allowed for passenger vehicles under 10,000 pounds (see next question). Washington State Patrol provides additional examples of state-approved alternative traction devices.

Can I use autosocks instead of chains?

Autosocks are allowed for passenger vehicles under 10,000 pounds as an alternative traction device for use when "Chains Required" signs are posted, in accordance with Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 204-24-035.

Is there anywhere I can rent/buy chains?

Tire and auto parts stores normally carry tire chains. Purchase chains from a business in your local community and practice installing them before you come to the park.

Tire chains are available for rent at:

Whittaker Mountaineering
30027 State Route 706 E
Ashford, WA 98304
(360) 569-2142

Several Ashford stores carry chains in limited sizes:

Ashford Valley Grocery
29716 State Route 706 E
Ashford, WA 98304
(360) 569-2560

Suver's General Store
(SUV and Truck sizes)
30402 State Route 706 E
Ashford, WA 98304
(360) 569-2377

Chains are also available in Eatonville and Morton:

Eatonville Auto Parts- Napa
105 Center Street East
Eatonville, WA 98328
(360) 832-6272

Ed's Morton Auto Parts- Napa
184 W Main Street
Morton, WA 98356
(360) 496-5141

Practice & Safety Suggestions

Before coming to the park try out the chains on your vehicle to ensure they fit.

Practice chaining up at home, where it's dry, which will save time in cold and wet conditions.

Ensure your vehicle is in park and the parking brake is set before working around the wheels.

Check park's Road Status webpage and Alerts for chain requirements.

Last updated: September 19, 2023

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55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304


360 569-2211

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