Mount Rainier Conditions Update

National Park Service News Release

March 5, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MOUNT RAINIER CONDITIONS UPDATE

Paradise Snowplay Area

With the continuation of mild weather, low snowfall at the Paradise elevation of the mountain, and little snowfall projected for the foreseeable future, park Superintendent Randy King advises that the Paradise snowplay area will not open this season. In more “normal” snow years, the snowplay area would have been open from the Christmas holiday period through the end of March. This season, there has not been adequate snow to groom tubing runs for snowplay. While some areas at Paradise, such as the park’s weather station, have recorded five feet or more of snow, other areas, including the snowplay area have not. A minimum of five feet is needed to prevent resource damage from the grooming equipment. Bare ground patches currently exist in areas which normally don’t occur until June or July. Parts of the snowplay area only have a snowpack of 18-24 inches. The snowpack is currently adequate for park visitors to enjoy snowshoeing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and backcountry use which create minimum impact on the meadows and resources. Park staff expects these activities will continue into early spring.

Wilderness/Winter Camping

Some winter snow camping areas are not available due to low snowpack. A 2 foot snow depth is required for camping outside of the Paradise area. Permits are required for all overnight stays. Permits are available from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily at the Longmire Information Center (360-569-6575).

Road Hours Extended

As additional staff comes on board, the park will continue to seek ways to improve visitor access throughout the season. Therefore, effective this weekend, the park will begin providing extended operational hours for the road between Longmire and Paradise. Superintendent King advises that the following target schedule will begin March 7, 2015 and continue until the evening gate closures end (typically in mid-April):

Saturdays and Sundays
Longmire gate will open at 8:00 a.m. (weather and conditions permitting)
Gate will close to all traffic at 9:00 p.m.

Mondays-Fridays
Longmire gate will open at 9:00 a.m. (weather and conditions permitting)
Gate will close to all traffic at 6:00 p.m.

With the start of daylight saving time, this expansion of road operations between the Longmire Historic District and Paradise will allow visitors additional time for vehicle access to locations above Longmire. As always, visitors are encouraged to check Twitter for up-to-date road conditions and restrictions.

Guided Snowshoe Walks

The Ranger-led snowshoe walks at Paradise will continue on Saturdays and Sundays through March 29. Public walks are offered at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. beginning at the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center. Visitors can sign up for the walks one hour prior to the beginning time. Snowshoes are provided; participants are asked for a $5 donation to help provide the walks and for repair costs. The park also offers walks to school groups by reservation only. Call 360-569-6592 for school group walk information and reservations.

Jackson Visitor Center Hours

Operating hours at the Jackson Visitor Center will be 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on weekends. The Paradise Camp Deli and Gift Shop will be open from 11:00 a.m. until 4:45 p.m.