Mount Rainier National Park announces that the park will reopen its Nisqually Entrance near Ashford on Sunday, January 13.
The road between the entrance and Longmire will be open to public vehicles, weather dependent, as typical during the winter. In addition, some basic visitor services will now be available, including restrooms at Longmire and Kautz Creek, and staff at the park entrance gate to provide safety information. These additional services are being made possible during the shutdown through the recently granted authority to use retained recreation fees in support of park operations.
Park Service officials have determined that by using Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement funds to bring back park staff to provide information, plow roads, and remove trash, the park will be able to restore some access for visitors while ensuring health and safety. While most outdoor areas of the park will remain accessible by foot, most buildings and facilities will remain closed. Entrance stations will be open to provide safety and information messages to arriving visitors, but fees will not be collected. The park is also pleased to announce that as a result of restored access, Rainier Guest Services will be able to reopen the National Park Inn, restaurant and gift shop in Longmire when the park gates open.
During the winter, parking is limited in Longmire, and on nice-weather days, can fill up quickly. As a result, visitors may experience long wait times at the park entrance, heavy traffic on roads, and congested parking lots – particularly on the weekends. Visitors are encouraged to make use of public restrooms in Elbe and Ashford on their way into the park. The road to Paradise will remain closed to the public. Travel on foot, snowshoes, or skis on the road behind the closed gate at Longmire is prohibited and unsafe. Plows may be working the road to provide access to service park facilities and utilities during the shutdown.
Visitors should note that snow play is only allowed in the designated area at Paradise, which is closed. In Longmire, any off-trail activity could cause significant damage to the park’s vegetation. All other areas in the park are off-limits to sledding to protect visitor safety and park resources. Visitors seeking snow play are encouraged to find locations outside of the park for this activity.
While basic visitor support services have been restored, other services will be limited or unavailable during the lapse in appropriations, including all visitor centers. If road conditions become unsafe at any time, roads and/or areas in the park may be closed. The park website and social media sites are not being maintained regularly. All administrative offices are closed until the government reopens.
Park visitors are asked to use extreme caution if choosing to enter the park, as personnel will not be available to provide normal levels of assistance and emergency response. Cell phone coverage is not consistent within the park and in many places is unavailable. Entry during the federal shutdown is at visitors’ sole risk.
While visitors are in the area here is a helpful list of additional activities and places to explore.
7 Things to do Outside of Mount Rainier National Park
- Play in the snow at Crystal Mountain Resort. Ski, snowboard, snowshoe, ride the gondola and enjoy a gourmet lunch at the Summit House, Washington State’s highest elevation dining experience. On a clear day, guests will have an incredible view of Mount Rainier and the surrounding mountains. https://visitrainier.com/crystal-mountain/
- Go Hut to Hut Nordic Skiing or snowshoe the MTTA wilderness trails. The Mount Tahoma Trails Association operates and manages the largest no fee Hut-to-Hut Trail System in North America for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. (Try starting with Copper Creek Hut Snowshoe) https://visitrainier.com/mt-tahoma-trails/ Rental equipment available at Rainier Mountain Sportz in Elbe, and at Whittaker’s in Ashford.
- Hike lower elevation trails. https://bit.ly/2EAnhEJ
- Explore Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. See the new grizzly bear cubs, Huckleberry and Hawthorne. Watch the adorable playful mountain goat kids. Visitors can easily spend hours enjoying the guided tram tour through the open roam area and exploring all of the various areas at Trek. Open weekends 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM. https://visitrainier.com/northwest-trek-wildlife-park/
- Nordic Ski at White Pass https://visitrainier.com/nordic-ski-at-white-pass/
- Watch Elk and Big Horn Sheep Feeding https://visitrainier.com/oak-creek-elk-feeding-area/
- Take a guided trail ride. Echo River Ranch in Enumclaw https://visitrainier.com/echo-river-ranch/ And EZ Times Outfitters in Elbe https://visitrainier.com/ez-times-outfitters/
Trails outside of Mount Rainier National Park to Hike
- Little Mashel Falls, Pack Forest (access via the Bud Blancher Trail at Smallwood Park) https://visitrainier.com/little-mashel-falls-pack-forest-2/
- Millpond and Smallwood Parks in Eatonville https://visitrainier.com/millpond-and-smallwood-parks/
- Federation Forest https://visitrainier.com/federation-forest-state-park-2/
- Flaming Geyser State Park https://visitrainier.com/flaming-geyser-state-park-2/
- Mud Mt. Dam Recreational Area https://visitrainier.com/mud-mt-dam-recreational-area-2/
- Pinnacle Peak in Enumclaw (dog-friendly, no pass required, snow-free) https://visitrainier.com/hike-pinnacle-peak/
- Look for the Fairfax Ghost Town in Wilkeson / Carbonado (dog-friendly, no pass required) https://visitrainier.com/fairfax-ghost-town-2/
- Manley Moore Road / The Foothills Trail https://visitrainier.com/manley-moore-rd-the-foothills-trail-2/
For an additional resource visit the Washington Trails Association website for a helpful list of trip reports.