DATE: 2/11/08


For immediate release
Lee Taylor 360-569-2211 x.3303

Avalanches buried the road to Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park late last week, and crews are still clearing the debris.

We’ve had so much snow in the past few weeks that we’ve seen snow slide in areas where it hasn’t released in years, said park information officer Lee Taylor. Warm weather and rain on Friday and Saturday caused more than 10 natural avalanches to hit the road. In addition, the National Park Service used explosives to set off an avalanche on one particularly threatening slope. The road is buried up to 15 feet deep in some places.

This is not a normal plowing operation, said Michael Ray, who supervises snow removal operations at the park. The avalanche debris is as heavy as concrete and can only be removed by bulldozer or blower. It’s going to take us a number of days to clear the road.

The road has been closed since February 5 due to heavy snow and extreme avalanche danger. Although visitors may not be able to get to Paradise for sledding this weekend, there will be public snowshoe walks at Longmire, and there is good trail access for snowshoeing and cross country skiing from there. An array of businesses is open in gateway communities to serve travelers.

The status of the road will be reassessed later in the week.

To check road and weather information at Mount Rainier National Park call 360-569-2211 and then select 1 or check the park’s web page at www.nps.gov /mora.

-NPS-