Where to go when Mount Rainier National Park’s “Snowplay” area isn’t available for sledding or tubing?
Each winter families eagerly wait for the snow to fall on Mount Rainier. Excited for adventure after a few snowy days, they’ll grab their gear, bundle up the kids, and head for Mount Rainier National Park. Yay! But what happens when Snowplay, the only area at the park where visitors can sled or tube, doesn’t open due to road closures or minimal snow coverage? Boo! Not to worry! In this article, we outline alternative activities and places to go play when Snowplay is closed…
Rent snowshoes at the Longmire General Store and go explore. There are miles of snowshoe trails to discover at the park. The park rangers are local experts and can help you find the right trail for current conditions and skill levels.
If the road to Paradise is open during your visit head up and play in the snow. Just remember there is no food and beverage service at Paradise this time of year. Pack your own snacks. The restrooms are open but not heated. The visitor center at Paradise should be open on weekends when the road to Paradise is open. Your vehicle is your primary place to seek shelter. Please recreate responsibly and practice “leave no trace” principles.
Outside of the national park in the town of Ashford is the Ashford County Park. At certain times of the year, the park can get just enough snow to become an unofficial sledding hill.
White Pass Resort has a tubing hill. The tubing hill is located approximately 84 miles from the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier National Park in Ashford. It’s a little over a 90-minute drive from Ashford to the resort. No reservations or advance purchase is required to go tubing. Tubing operates on weekends for sessions beginning at 9:30 am, 11:45 am, and 2 pm. The final day of operations is scheduled for Sunday, March 27. Tube rentals are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. To check the pricing or learn more please click here.
Consider a change in plans. Stop by EZ Times Outfitter in Elbe to see if their guided trail rides are available during your visit. Exploring the wintry forests on horseback is an experience you won’t soon forget. Or if it’s a weekend consider reconnecting with nature at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. The 700+ acre wildlife park is filled with wildlife viewing opportunities. To check pricing and hours at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park click here.
If you’re comfortable driving and playing in the snow in a remote wilderness setting you may consider the Mount Tahoma Trails. This option requires a Sno-Park permit.
For more information on snowplay or to contact Mount Rainier National Park call the information line at 360-569-6575 or visit nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/. The NPS webcams at the park are helpful resources to check current conditions and snow level. Remember, all vehicles are required to carry chains when entering the national park Nov. 1-May 1. Need to rent chains? Check out this blog article with a helpful list on where to rent chains.