Winter Camping

Several tents set up against a few fir trees in whiteout snow conditions.
Visitors winter camping during a snowstorm, January 1990.

NPS Photo

Winter Camping Status

Update 1/26/21: Winter Camping in the Paradise area is now open for the season. Camping on snow is allowed almost anywhere in the park with a permit once snow depth is sufficient. The Paradise area requires at least five feet of snow before camping is allowed. Mazama Ridge, Reflection Lakes, and other areas require at least two feet of snow.

  • The Winter Camping brochure provides information for those wishing to camp at Paradise. The brochure includes a map of the Paradise area marking out avalanche hazards zones and the Paradise Water Supply No Camping Zone.
  • Maximum party size is 10 people, consistent with state and local health guidelines, or up to 12 people if all members are of the same household. There is no winter group camping for parties of 13 or larger this year.
  • A snow depth of eight feet is recommended before constructing snow caves at Paradise.
  • In selecting your campsite, choose a location that is a minimum of 300 feet from plowed roads and parking areas (to avoid being buried by snowplows), marked routes, trails, and buildings and at least 100 feet from water.
  • Permits are required for all overnight camping. Register for a wilderness permit.
  • The road to Paradise closes nightly at Longmire during the winter. Check @MountRainierNPS on Twitter (account not required to view) or Radio 1610-AM Paradise for road updates and closures. More about winter travel in the park.
  • Route finding and hazard assessment skills are needed in the Paradise area when snow-covered. Most trails are unmarked and many cross through areas of avalanche risk. Learn more about winter safety.
 

Camping in the Backcountry

Backcountry wilderness permits are required year-round. If you plan to winter camp in the backcountry, permits are available the day of arrival at:

  • Longmire Museum - Monday through Thursday, 9:00 am to 3:30 pm
  • Longmire Wilderness Information Center - Friday through Sunday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

In selecting your campsite, choose a location that is a minimum of 300 feet from plowed roads and parking areas, marked routes, trails and buildings, and at least 100 feet from water.

 

Blue Bags

Blue bags, for human waste, can be obtained from the ranger station or visitor center. Using blue bags keeps water clean, protects fragile vegetation from digging, and allows more people to use the area without leaving impacts. A blue bag barrel is available in the tunnel to the restrooms in the Paradise upper parking lot for disposal of used blue bags. Please dispose of bags properly.

 

Regulations

  • Pets are not allowed on trails or snow. Service dogs allowed. Pets are permitted in parking lots only.
  • Remember to pack out all trash. Trash left behind melts out in early summer.

To protect the park’s resources and visitor facilities, the following are prohibited:

  • Cutting vegetation (tree boughs, etc.).
  • Collecting or gathering of wood, rocks, plants or other park resources.
  • Campfires of any type. Stoves are permitted.
  • Drying clothing and gear in restrooms or the visitor center.
  • Camping or cooking in any building or in the restroom tunnel.

Learn more about laws and policies.

 

Food Storage

Habituated Cascade foxes and other wildlife have been obtaining winter campers' food throughout the Paradise/Reflection Lakes/Tatoosh area. This has resulted in damage to camping equipment and increasingly persistent and aggressive wildlife behavior.


Proper food storage is required at all times when camping. All campers must hang food, garbage and scented items to keep them out of reach of wildlife, or secure them in an approved hard-sided container (5-gallon plastic buckets with tight-fitting lids, or manufactured wildlife resistant food containers). Hung food should also be stored inside a container to prevent habituated jays and ravens from obtaining food out of stuff sacks.

Hard-sided containers are REQUIRED in all Paradise area winter camping zones (Paradise, Mazama Ridge, Reflection Lakes, Tatoosh). Wildlife - resistant food containers are available for loan; ask a ranger when obtaining your camping permit.

Campers in the immediate Paradise area are requested to place food items inside their vehicles at night and when unattended during the day. Hard-sided, lockable containers may also be utilized on site.

Please do not feed wildlife. Report any habituated wildlife encounters to a ranger.

 
Simplified map of the Paradise overnight parking area in the lower lot and the locations of the restrooms, payphone, and climbing self-registration kiosk in the upper parking lot. An inset map shows the Narada parking area.
Paradise and Narada Falls parking map. Note the locations for overnight parking.

NPS Image

Parking for Winter Camping

Vehicles must be parked in the overnight parking areas at Paradise, Narada Falls, or Longmire. If designated areas are full, contact a park ranger. Parking outside these areas impedes snow removal operations. If possible, avoid setting your parking brake––it may freeze and become unable to release. The road between Longmire and Paradise closes nightly in winter and reopens once the road has been plowed. The road may close early or remain closed during the entire day due to poor road conditions or severe weather. It is unsafe to drive on roads and parking lots until morning snowplow operations are complete. Plows routinely operate on the wrong side of the road when it is closed. Radio 1610-AM will indicate when the road is open and safe for travel. Call 360-569-2211 or check @MountRainierNPS on Twitter (account not required to view) for information on road and weather conditions. Learn more about winter travel in the park.

 

Last updated: January 29, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304

Phone:

(360) 569-2211

Contact Us