Frequently Asked Questions | FAQs

Driving in the Park

How far up the mountain can I drive?

Sunrise is the highest driveable point (elevation 6,400 ft), but it is not open year-round. The highest drivable point from the year-round Nisqually Entrance is Paradise, elevation 5400 ft.

General Park Info

I am on a limited budget, where can I go without having to pay a park entrance fee?

Chinook Pass, Cayuse Pass, Crystal Mountain, Shriner Peak, East Side Trail, Silver Falls, High Rock Lookout, Mt. Tahoma Trail system and Crystal Lakes. The surrounding areas in the National Forest do not require an entrance fee, however US Forest Passes may be required.

Is the Park open all year?

Yes, but some areas of the park, including Sunrise, White River, Ohanapecosh, Chinook Pass (SR 410), Cayuse Pass (SR 123), and the Stevens Canyon Road close for the season in mid-October or early-November and do not reopen until late spring to early summer. Click here for current road conditions. You may also call Mt. Rainier National Part at 360-569-2211 for a recorded message on road conditions.  The Longmire are is open all year. The road from Longmire to Paradise is generally open during the winter, although closed and gated at Longmire every evening and anytime snow, ice, or potential avalanches make travel to Paradise unsafe.

The Longmire Museum is open year-round. The Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise is open weekends and holidays in the winter and daily from early May through early October. The National Park Inn at Longmire is open year-round. The Paradise Inn is open from mid-May to October only.

What are the addresses of Mt. Rainier so I can use a mapping program for driving directions?

Sunrise: 70002 SR Hwy 410 E Enumclaw, WA 98022;

Longmire or Paradise Use: Ashford, WA 98304

What are the park entrance fees?

The entrance fee is $20 for a private, noncommercial vehicle or $10 for each visitor 16 and older entering by motorcycle, bicycle, horseback, on foot, or for individuals traveling together as a non-commercial, organized group. These fees provide the visitor with a 7-day entrance permit for Mount Rainier National Park. The $30 annual park pass covers entrance fees for the pass holder and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle at Mount Rainier National Park.

In regards to groups entering the park, if the vehicle has seats for 15 or fewer people, the park charges a flat fee of $15. If the vehicle seats 16 or more, the park charges per person for only those 16 or older with a minimum fee of $15. If anyone has a park pass, the pass covers the cardholder and three other adults.

Get more information on all National Parks and Federal lands passes including the $10 “Interagency Senior Pass,” honored nationwide at all federal sites charging entrance fees. Find information on fees for national parks, national forests and Washington state public lands.

What time does the park close?

In winter, the gates at Longmire to Paradise close every evening (dusk) and reopen after snow removal in the morning, although heavy snowfall can delay the opening. In summer, the road is always open.

Where can I get good cell phone coverage?
Coverage varies around the mountain, depending on your carrier.
Good coverage is available in the gateway communities of Ashford, Eatonville, Enumclaw and Crystal Mountain.
More information on the coverage offered by various cell phone companies.

 

 

 

Hiking Questions

Are guided hikes offered at Mt. Rainier?

Yes. In the Crystal Mountain area, Ridge Explorations offers guided hikes during the summer season. US Forest Rangers also lead short, interpretive hikes from the summit of Crystal Mountain during the summer. Inside the park, ranger-led hikes are offered during the summer months at Paradise and Sunrise.

How do I acquire a wilderness camping and climbing permit?

A permit is required for all overnight climbing and camping in the backcountry of Mount Rainier. Click here for information on obtaining permits in the park.

How long can I park my vehicle at trailheads within the park?

There is long term parking for up to 14 days at trailheads. When you acquire your wilderness camping permit, which is required for backcountry camping, you will be given a permit for your vehicle. Parking is at your own risk and be advised not to leave valuables in your vehicle.

What are the 10 Essentials?

Map, compass, extra food, extra clothing, first aid kit, sunglasses, headlamp/flashlight, knife, fire starter, waterproof matches. More on the Hiking 10 Essentials here.

Lodging

Are cabins available for overnight rental within the National Park?

No, but there are a variety of cabins near the park boundaries.

Where can I stay in the Park?

The National Park Inn at Longmire and Paradise Inn are the only lodging within the park boundaries.

There are many places to stay within only a few miles of the park boundaries.

Where is the National Park Inn?

It is within the park at Longmire, located just inside the Nisqually Entrance.

Other Questions

Are there Handicap Accessible areas in the National Park?

Although many of the developed areas at Mount Rainier National Park predate laws requiring fully accessible facilities, we are working to ensure all visitors can experience and enjoy the park. If you have special needs or situations not explained in the information below, call (360) 569-2211 x3314, any day between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to speak to a park ranger. Visit Accessible Areas for more info.

Is gas available in the park?

Gas is NOT available in the park, but there are gas stations in nearby communities. Make sure you have plenty of gas before you begin your exploration of the park!

Where can I take memorable photos of Mt. Rainier without having to hike or walk long distances?

As you approach the mountain on Hwy 706, the first opportunity to photograph Mt. Rainier is just past the Nisqually entrance at the Kautz Creek Rest Stop (N 46° 44′ 12.00″, W 121° 49′ 45.90″; 2,588 ft).

  • Continuing up the road toward Paradise, stop at the Longmire Inn, the Nisqually River Bridge Parking Area (N 46° 46′ 57.4″, W 121° 45′ 51.3″; 3,877 ft), the Ricksecker viewpoint (turn off the main road at N 46° 46′ 17.50″, W 121° 46′ 43.00″; 3,998 ft) and at the several pullouts along the road (two such pullouts are at N 46° 46′ 39.50″, W 121° 45′ 41.50″; 4466 ft and N 46° 47′ 0.80″, W 121° 44′ 59.60″; 5,137 ft).
  • Once arriving at Paradise (N 46° 47′ 8.70″, W 121° 44′ 8.90″; 5,400 ft), the mountain will be in your camera viewfinder wherever you look.

On the White Pass Scenic Byway, the best view of Mt. Rainier is at the Goat Rocks Viewpoint on the west side of White Pass (N 46° 37′ 54.00″, W 121° 26′ 51.60″).

At Chinook Pass, the most frequently photographed area is Tipsoo Lake at the pass summit. Several angles of the mountain are captured on a variety of short walks and hikes. Sunrise is another often photographed area especially in the early morning. A brisk walk on the slopes at Crystal Mountain or a gondola ride will provide the premier view of Mt. Rainier from Crystal Mountain. The road from Enumclaw to Sunrise offers two excellent viewpoints of Mt. Rainier, one within the park and the other a short distance from the White River entrance.

Pets in the Park

Where can I walk my dog?

Basically, while inside the park boundaries, your pet can only go where your car can go: on roads, in parking lots and campgrounds. Your pet must be on a leash (not more than 6 feet long) and under your control at all times and may not be staked. Within the park, pets are not allowed on trails, snow, in any buildings or amphitheaters, or in the Wilderness. The only exceptions are service animals such as seeing-eye and hearing-ear dogs. The one exception – dogs on a leash are allowed on the Pacific Crest Trail near the park’s eastern boundary.

There are many areas outside of the park nearby, where pets are allowed:

  • Goat Lake Trail and Glacier View from FS Road 59 at Mt. Tahoma Trails;
  • High Rock Lookout near FR 52;
  • Forest Service Road trails in the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest such as Sheep Lake just east of Chinook Pass;
  • Noble Knob, FR 7174;
  • Sun Top on FR 7160 near Greenwater.

All walking trails within the Crystal Mountain trail system are open to your pets and dogs are allowed in the Mt. Rainier Gondolas during the summer months. Sunrise has a pet walking area. Another area outside of the National Park boundary is the Foothills Trail system on the northwest side of the park.

Plants & Animals Questions

How many animal species live in the park?

Mount Rainier National Park is home to approximately 54 species of mammals, 126 species of birds, and 17 species of amphibians and reptiles.

Plants & Animals Questions

When can I see wildflowers?

July and August are the best months. Find more detailed information on the Wildflowers and Wildlife page.

When does the fall color begin and where can you see good fall color?

Fall colors begin at the highest elevations first. Normally, this occurs in September when the days get shorter and the nights become colder. Fall color displays from the vine maple and huckleberries are dramatic until the snow begins to cover them. On the White Pass Scenic Byway, US Hwy 12, dramatic golden yellow colors are visible later in the season. The Tamarack (or also known as larch) are vivid on the eastern slopes of the White Pass summit in November.

For more information, visit the Fall Activities page.

Does the snow at Paradise ever melt?

Although Paradise is the snowiest place on Earth where snowfall is measured regularly, it does enjoy a brief but glorious snow-free season. In most years, the area is snow-free from about mid-July through late September. October snowfall usually melts in between storms. The ground is usually completely snow covered for the winter by Thanksgiving.

How much snow will there be?

It depends on when you come. The road crews work hard to keep the road clear. It is required to carry chains for road travel inside the park from November 1 – May 1. August and September are typically snow free.

What clothes should I wear?
Wear layers and warm clothing. Sturdy hiking shoes are recommended. Flip flops and sandals are not appropriate. A rain jacket is suggested. If you are hiking away from your car, alway carry your 10 Essentials. (See the “Hiking” FAQ below)

 

 

 

What will the weather be like?
Visitors should be aware that mountain weather is very changeable. Be prepared for unseasonable weather at all times of the year.
Average Monthly Temperatures at Mount Rainier:
Paradise
(5400 ft/1647 m)
Longmire(2762 ft/825 m) Ohanapecosh
(1950 ft/560 m)
High Low High Low High Low
°F/°C °F/°C °F/°C °F/°C °F/°C °F/°C
January 33 / 0.5 21 / -6 36 / 2 24 / -4 39 / 4 30 / -1
February 35 / 2 22 / -6 40 / 4 26 / -3 41 / 5 30 / 1
March 37 / 3 22 / -6 44 / 7 28 / -2 42 /6 32 / 0
April 44 / 7 27 / -3 53 / 12 32 / 0 58 / 14 35 / 2
May 50 / 10 32 / 0 62 / 17 37 / 3 70 / 21 41 / 5
June 56 / 14 44 / 7 66 / 19 43 / 6 77 / 25 45 / 7
July 64 / 18 44 / 7 75 / 24 47 / 8 78 / 23 49 / 9
August 63 / 17 43 / 6 74 / 23 47 / 8 81 / 27 48 / 9
September 57 / 14 39 / 4 68 / 20 43 / 6 72 / 22 43 / 6
October 48 / 9 33 / 0.5 57 / 14 38 / 3 57 / 14 36 / 2
November 41 / 5 37 / 3 45 / 7 31 / -0.5 39 / 4 27 / -3
December 34 / 1 22 / -6 39 / 4 28 / -2 34 / 1 23 / -5

 

 

Will I be able to see the mountain?

It depends on the weather and it changes rapidly on the mountain. The mountain creates its own weather system.