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Current Conditions at Paradise

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WHERE: The snowplay area is located north of the upper parking lot at Paradise
WHEN: The snowplay area opens mid-December and closes late March, depending on seasonal conditions.
WHAT: “Soft” sliding devices such as flexible sleds, inner tubes, and saucers are allowed. No hard toboggans or runner sleds.
RENT: Inside the park, plastic sleds are for sale at the Longmire General Store (open daily) and at the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise (open weekends and holidays during the winter season).
Outside the park, sleds and inner tube rentals are available at Whittaker’s Mountaineering in Ashford.
MAP: Map, Rules & More Info Here
DATES: 2015-2016 dates TBA

Families looking for fun winter activities in Mt Rainier National Park, such as sledding and snowshoeing, can bundle up and head to the Snowplay Area at Paradise. Open during weekends and school breaks in winter, the Snowplay Area is the one established place in the park where sledding is permitted.

From the upper parking lot, you’ll need to walk up a short hill to the Snowplay Area above the historic Paradise Inn and the newly remodeled Jackson Visitor Center. There you’ll see folks of all ages zooming down the runs in plastic sleds, saucers and inner tubes. For safety, no hard toboggans or runner sleds are allowed.

With our bright yellow sled in hand, my husband, son, and I lined up at the top of the two runs. Our son Finn, two years old, enjoyed his first time sledding. He laughed with delight as we sped down the run, several hundred feet in length. On the run beside us a group of teenagers cheered each another on.

Tired of sledding? Then you can sign up at the Jackson Visitors Center for a two-hour, ranger-guided snowshoe hike. Moderately strenuous, this hike is great for beginners and families. While only adults and kids eight years and older can sign up, the rangers will allow you to bring younger children in front or back carriers. Dress them very warmly, rangers say, for little ones will get very cold because they aren’t moving. Folks can borrow snowshoes from the visitor center for a $4 per-pair donation.

Apres Sledding/Snowshoeing… After your sled runs or snowshoeing, you and your family can stow your gear and head over to the visitor center cafeteria for a hearty lunch and warm beverages. Note: Paradise Inn, built in 1916, is closed from October to May.

Some fine print… There is a National Park Service entrance fee for visitors to drive up to Longmire and Paradise. Go here for current information on park fees and passes.  All vehicles are required to carry tire chains when traveling inside the national park during the winter season (Nov 1 – May 1). This requirement applies to all vehicles (including four-wheel drive), regardless of tire type or weather conditions. Review the Tire Chain Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

About The Author

Carrie Uffindell

Carrie is a freelance travel writer and historian, born and raised at the base of another mountain, Mt Diablo in northern California. She spent most of her teen years riding her Arabian horse Desteyn on the trails of California, including Mt Diablo State Park, the Pacific Crest Trail, and Yosemite National Park. Carrie's love of mountains and forests drew her to the Pacific Northwest, where she has lived the past 16 years. Now Carrie explores the Pacific Northwest on foot with her husband Erik and young son Finn, both of whom share her love of travel and the outdoors. In addition to writing for Visit Rainier, Carrie also writes for about traveling in Wales with her family. She has a BA in European History and in her spare time works on a mystery novel set in medieval Wales.