On Monday, January 18, national parks throughout the country will commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. All national parks, including Mount Rainier National Park, will provide free admission for all visitors. At Paradise, the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center will be open on the holiday from 10:00 am to 4:15 pm. The Longmire Museum is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and provides park and winter activity information.
The park’s popular snow play area is currently open in the designated area located directly north of the upper parking lots at Paradise. Sledding, tubing, and other sliding activities are permitted only in this location. The snow play area allows visitors to enjoy groomed snow runs, using “soft” sliding devices such as flexible plastic sleds, inner tubes, and plastic saucers. Hard toboggans and sleds with runners are not permitted because of the increased potential for injuries.
Ranger-guided snowshoe walks at Paradise are offered on weekends and holidays through March 27. Each walk lasts two hours, departing at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Sign-ups are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and begin one hour in advance of each walk at the Jackson Visitor Center information desk. Participants should dress in warm layers with hats and gloves, and wear footwear suitable for snowshoes. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and water are also advised.
Mount Rainier’s current entrance fee is $20 per vehicle for a seven day access pass. The entrance waiver on fee-free days does not cover the costs of camping site fees, Special Use Permits, or Climbing Passes. Other available passes also cover entrance fees at national parks and other federal recreational lands throughout the country. Find more information about the range of options at nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm, or get a pass of your own at the park’s entrance booths.
Visitors are reminded that all vehicles (including 4WD) are required to carry tire chains or other approved traction devices (i.e. tire socks) when traveling in the park from November 1 – May 1. Road conditions can deteriorate quickly at any time and mandatory chain use may be required even for 4WD vehicles. Tire chains are available for rent outside the park in Ashford and in the park at the National Park Inn in Longmire.
The main gate at the southwest entrance to the park remains open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, unless hazardous conditions require temporary closure. The gate located on the road from Longmire to Paradise is closed nightly to ensure visitor and staff safety. Conditions permitting, this gate is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with uphill entry closing at 4:00 p.m. to allow visitors and staff to exit safely. Rangers and road crew staff evaluate road, weather, and avalanche conditions to determine when it is safe to open the road above Longmire each morning. Daily road opening/closing updates are posted on Twitter: twitter.com/MountRainierNPS.
The additional entrance fee-free days for 2016 will be April 16 through 24, August 25 through 28, September 24, and November 11. Visiting national parks provides opportunity to discover the sites and stories of our shared heritage.