Winter at Mount Rainier is stunningly beautiful and offers many recreational opportunities for the prepared visitor.
A little bit of pre-planning can help visitors have a fun and safe visit this winter. In this article, we share answers to frequently asked questions and travel tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable visit this winter.
Q: What should I do before I decide to visit Mount Rainier National Park?
Q: Which entrance should I use? Where can I enter Mount Rainier National Park during the winter?
A: The Southwest Entrance, the Nisqually Entrance is open year-round. Looking for an address to put into your GPS? Use this one 39000 State Route 706 E. Ashford, WA 98304.
Q: How early or late can I enter the park?
A: During COVID Mount Rainier National Park isn’t publishing daily operating schedules for the various park entrances as staffing levels can change from day to day. If you’re planning to arrive early or late in the day purchase a pass in advance this way if you arrive at the entrance gate and find it isn’t staffed you can enter the park anyway and display your pass in your vehicle. Click here to purchase a pass online.
Q: Can I buy a pass on arrival?
A: Yes, you can as long as you arrive when the entrance is staffed. See above. You’ll want to have a credit or debit card as during COVID the park is requesting to not accept cash.
Q: What’s open this winter?
At Longmire, the National Park Inn is open for lodging and to-go dining. The General Store is open and will rent snowshoes while supplies last. All facilities need to enforce capacity guidance. Please keep in mind that only a limited number of people will be permitted in the Longmire retail area at one time. There may be a line of people waiting to shop at the gift shop at Longmire during peak weekends.
At Paradise, the visitor center will remain closed. On weekends there will be an outdoor information station by the visitor center with a staff person to answer intermittent questions throughout the day. The restrooms at Paradise will be open but they are not heated. You’ll want to be dressed and prepared for the weather and conditions. There is no place to warm-up or seek shelter at Paradise other than your vehicle. There is no food service at Paradise this winter. Visitors should bring their own refreshments or purchase them at Longmire before the drive up to Paradise. Visitors should be prepared with clothing, equipment, food, and water that will sustain them throughout their visit.
Q: What should I bring on my hike or snowshoe trek?
A: The 10 Essentials are more important than ever! We encourage visitors to plan ahead and refer to the winter safety information available on the park’s website for information before they come.
Q: Will the snowplay area at Paradise open for sledding this winter?
A: The Paradise snowplay/sledding area will not open until public health guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic are met and there is sufficient snow coverage.
Q: Do I really need chains? Even if I have an SUV or a 4WD Subaru?
Q: When does the gate at Longmire open?
Q: When should I plan to leave Paradise for the day?
A: Visitors should plan to start driving downhill from Paradise no later than 4:30 PM (the gate is locked no later than 5 PM daily). During inclement weather; the gate could close earlier. Visitors should actively monitor weather conditions during their visit and be prepared to return to their vehicles if conditions deteriorate. Ask a park ranger if you have questions about the day’s proposed schedule.
Q: Where can I stay overnight?
Q: Which restaurants near the park are open in the winter?
Q: What’s the schedule for the ranger-led snowshoe walks at Paradise?
Q: What’s a good resource for checking the weather and conditions at Paradise?
- Mount Rainier webcams
- The Mt. Rainier Recreational Forecast produced by the National Weather Service has helpful insights on weather and conditions.
- Mount Rainier National Park Alerts & Conditions
Q: How much snow is at Paradise?