Planning a trip to Mount Rainier National Park this spring, be prepared for a winter wonderland.
Spring at Mount Rainier is a refreshing time to visit. As the snow melts waterfalls roar. While the cities at the base of the mountain may be showing signs of spring, the SNOTEL report indicates that there is currently over 12 feet of snow on the ground at Paradise as of March 30, 2023. Elevation matters and it can significantly impact your experience as a visitor. To ensure a safe and enjoyable trip, it’s essential to plan ahead.
The following tips from Mount Rainier National Park will help you prepare:
- Check Conditions: Before you head to the park, make sure you’re aware of the weather and avalanche forecasts for the area you intend to hike. Pay attention to any cautions or warnings. Check the park webcams for current conditions and visit @MountRainierNPS on Twitter for possible delays or closures.
- Choose Appropriate Locations and Routes: Consider your skill level when choosing locations and routes. If you plan to explore Mount Rainier’s higher-elevation trails or upper slopes, plan for 100% snow cover. You may need reliable map and compass skills to traverse snow-covered trails, which can be challenging to follow, particularly in backcountry areas. If you prefer not to hike or snowshoe, take in the scenic architecture of the historic Longmire district. Drive the road to Paradise to enjoy the snowy views. And try your hand at photography.
- Be Aware of the Hazards of the Season: Many trails and routes are still snow-covered and will be well into the summer. Choose to turn around instead of crossing steep, snow-covered slopes, as a fall could be disastrous. Falling through thin snow bridges is a hazard anywhere streams remain snow-covered. Listen for the muffled sound of running water under the snow. Avoid stepping onto snow cornices, as they may collapse under your weight. Assume that snow on the edge of precipices is unstable. Falling into snow moats around trees (aka tree wells), and adjacent to logs and rocks, can cause injury.
- Be Prepared: Make sure you have the proper winter safety gear and know how to use it, such as extra layers, a shovel, a waterproof layer, and an avalanche beacon, depending on the nature of your trip. Consider your vehicle as part of your winter emergency gear for shelter and warming. All vehicles must carry tire chains when entering Mount Rainier National Park from November 1 through May 1. Need to rent chains? Click here.
By following these tips and being prepared, you can safely and enjoyably explore the winter wonderland of Mount Rainier National Park. For more information on winter recreation and safety, visit https://go.usa.gov/x7drQ and https://go.usa.gov/x7daB.
Make sure you are aware of weather and avalanche forecasts for the area you intend to hike or snowshoe. Heed any cautions or warnings. Before driving to the park check the park webcams for current conditions and visit @MountRainierNPS on Twitter (no account necessary) for possible Paradise Road opening delays or closures.
– Mount Rainier Weather: https://go.usa.gov/x7dax
– Northwest Avalanche Center: https://bit.ly/36PsaGl
– Webcams: https://go.usa.gov/x7daY
– @MountRainierNPS on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MountRainierNPS
Have you booked a place to stay? There are close to 100 cozy cabins, posh vacation rentals, and historic lodges near the Nisqually Entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Click here for the list of options.
📸Photo of Mount Rainier at Paradise taken in early May. Image credit Ann Peavey.