DATE: 5/19/08

For Immediate Release
Contact: Lee Taylor 360-569-2211, ext. 6041

Warm weather has finally arrived in the Puget Sound region, but on Mount Rainier the landscape is still covered in snow. Due to record low elevation snowfall over the past several months many areas of the park that would normally open in May and June will be delayed by several weeks. Visitors should keep these conditions in mind when planning visits to the park this spring.

Paradise, at 5400 feet, received 898 inches of snow so far this winter, and there is still more than 15 feet of snow on the ground. At Longmire 27 inches of snow still lingers. The heavy snow load, unusual low-elevation snow, and need to continue daily snow removal operations throughout April all impacted the park’s ability to begin the process of spring road opening. The Stevens Canyon Road connecting the east and west sides of the park may not be open for Memorial weekend and will most likely open in mid-June. The target public opening for the Sunrise Road is July 3.

Opening of State Route 410 and State Route 123 from the north park boundary south to U.S. 12 is tentatively scheduled for early next week. No opening date has been announced by the Washington State Department of Transportation for State Route 410 east over Chinook Pass.

We haven’t had snow this late this low in decades said Superintendent Dave Uberuaga. We recommend that you check the park’s website (www.nps.gov /mora) or call the park (360-569-2211, ext. 2334) for current information on road and facility status before heading for Mount Rainier.

Some campgrounds that would normally be snow-free by Memorial Day are still under snow. Although Ohanapecosh Campground will open as scheduled on May 23, Cougar Rock Campground will not open until June 6. The Ohanapecosh Visitor Center will open June 13.

Hikers should anticipate one hundred percent snow cover on all trails above 3,000 feet. The trail melt out will be late this year, and backpackers planning trips on the Wonderland Trail should anticipate a lot of travel on snow throughout July.

Paradise Inn reopened to the public on Friday, May 16 after a two-year closure for rehabilitation. The historic Inn offers lodging, dining, and a gift shop. In addition, the National Park Inn located at Longmire is also open for lodging, dining, a gift shop and small store. For reservations at Paradise Inn or the National Park Inn call 360-569-2275.

Businesses in the gateway communities surrounding the park are open and anxious for the summer season to begin. Websites for gateway community information are: www.mt-rainier.com, visitrainier.com, and www.destinationpackwood.com