Winter Recreation Activities Begin at Mount Rainier National Park DATE: 12/17/10 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-_Contact: Lee Snook, 360-569-2211, x6043-_-_Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga announces that the Paradise snowplay area will open for the season, Saturday, December 18. Snowshoe walks led by Park Rangers will also begin on that date. Snowplay – Sledding and Sliding < /strong>-_The snowplay area is immediately north of the upper parking lot at Paradise. Sliding and sledding in the park is permitted ONLY in this designated area. Snowplay runs are supervised daily by Park Rangers from December 18 through January 2, then on weekends and holidays from January 8 through March 27. Visitors may use the sled runs when the area is not staffed, but the runs are not groomed during the week. For current snowplay status, contact the Longmire Museum at 360-569-2211 ext. 3314 (9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily). Because of the high potential for personal injury and frequency of accidents, no other park areas are open to sliding activities. Serious injuries have occurred when people mistakenly slid over waterfalls, into trees, down slopes that were too steep, broke through thin snow into stream gorges, or slammed into other people. Skiing and snowboarding are permitted in other areas, outside of the snowplay area. For your enjoyment and safety, these few guidelines apply: Use only inner tubes, plastic sleds, saucers, or other soft sliding devices. No wooden toboggans, runner sleds with metal edges, or other hard devices are permitted. Compressed air is available at the rock restroom tunnel across the plaza from the new Jackson Visitor Center when snowplay rangers are present. Be sure the run is clear before starting your slide. Collisions may cause serious injury. Dress warmly and in layers with a wicking fabric such as wool or polypropylene next to the skin and a waterproof outer layer. Wear hats, gloves, and snow-sealed boots. Do not wear lightweight blue jeans and t-shirts. They get wet easily and will not keep you warm. Rest, re-warm, and snack frequently to help keep you comfortable and alert. Take a warm-up break at the Jackson Visitor Center before feet, hands, noses, or ears feel numb. Food service is available from 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. when the visitor center is open. The snowplay area is usually closed by 4:30 p.m. nightly. Check 1610 on your car radio while in the park, for updates on current road conditions. Snowshoe Walks < /strong>-_Join a Park Ranger to learn the art of snowshoeing in the winter wonderland of Paradise and learn about the ecology of the area. During the holiday break, the guided walks will be offered daily December 18 through January 2. From January 8 through March 27 the walks will be conducted on weekends and holidays only. The walks are offered at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign up at the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center information desk at Paradise beginning one hour before the start time. Organized groups of 13-25 people may reserve a snowshoe walk in advance. Group snowshoe walks begin at 10:30 a.m. For more information or to make a group reservation, call (360) 569-2211, ext. 3314. Snowshoe walks cover approximately 1.5 miles and last up to 2 hours. Snowshoes are provided, or visitors may use their own. A donation of $4 per person is asked to help defray the cost of snowshoe maintenance. Snowshoeing is a moderately strenuous activity, and participants must be at least 8 years old. Remember to wear sturdy boots and dress in layers. Educational Snowshoe Walks for School Groups < /strong>-_Curriculum-based snowshoe education walks are available at no charge to school groups on weekdays through the park’s Education Program. These programs are tailored to meet the teacher’s identified learning objectives. Contact Fawn Bauer at (360) 569-6037 for more information or to scheduleyour field trip. Please check the Mount Rainier National Park website at http: / /www.nps.gov /mora /forteachers /index.htm for more information about field trips and teacher workshops. Facility Hours< /strong>-_The Longmire Museum (360-569-2211, extension 3314) is open daily from 9:00 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. The Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center (360-569-2211, extension 6036) is open from 10:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. during holiday break (December 18 through January 2) and on weekends and holidays throughMarch 27. Visitors are reminded that roads in the park may be closed at any time due to hazardous conditions. When driving on park roads, please use caution as the roads are icy, narrow, and steep. Carry chains at all times and pay attention to changing conditions. General park information is available atwww.nps.gov /mora or by calling 360-569-2211.