Mount Rainier National Park announces winter operations, in preparation for weather conditions and recreation opportunities the winter season provides for visitors. Though many park roads are closed to vehicle access for the winter, areas throughout the park remain open for recreation. Superintendent Randy King advises: “Visitors can come have a great park experience during a time that offers incredible seasonal opportunities, if they plan ahead, prepare for changing conditions, and know their limitations.”
The Longmire area will remain open seven days a week, unless major storm events require closure. Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Longmire Museum provides general park information, winter activity guidance, backcountry permits, and Discover Your Northwest books and maps for sale. The historic National Park Inn provides lodging, food, gifts, and snowshoe/ski rentals. For reservations, call 360-569-2275 or visit mtrainierguestservices.com.
At Paradise, the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center is open weekends only, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., with additional days of operation for the holidays on November 26-27, and December 23-January 3. PLEASE NOTE: the Paradise snowplay area is not yet open. A sufficient snowpack depth is needed before snowplay can be opened, for both visitor safety and to avoid resource damage to the fragile meadows below. Further updates will be announced, depending on conditions.
Ranger guided snowshoe walks at Paradise are scheduled to begin December 23, 2015 through March 27, 2016. The walks will be offered on weekends and holiday periods when the visitor center is open, begin at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and last two hours each. Sign-ups are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and begin one hour in advance of each walk at the Jackson Visitor Center information desk. Participants should dress warmly (layers), have warm hats and gloves and wear appropriate footwear suitable for snowshoes. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and water are also advised. On January 2, reserved snowshoe walks will begin for groups of 15 to 25 visitors, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Group reservations can be made by calling 360-569-6575 between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. If the gate opening between Longmire and Paradise is delayed, snowshoe walk times may be adjusted or led from the Longmire Museum.
As in past years, the main gate at the southwest entrance to the park (Nisqually) will remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week unless hazardous conditions require a temporary closure. The higher elevation gate, located on the road between Longmire and Paradise is closed nightly to ensure visitor and staff safety, with uphill access closing at 4:00 p.m. to allow time for visitors and staff to exit safely. Each morning, Rangers and Road Crew staff will evaluate road, weather, and avalanche conditions to determine when it is safe to open the road above Longmire. The standard open hours of this road are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with daily road opening/closing updates posted to Twitter. Follow the feed at twitter.com/MountRainierNPS.