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Mount Rainier: Open for Winter Play

Posted by Susan Elderkin at Dec 27, 2012 09:20 AM |

Want to play in some powder? Look no further than Mount Rainier National Park, where you can ski, snowshoe, sled and camp in the deep and fluffy snow.

Want to play in some powder? Look no further than Mount Rainier National Park, where you can ski, snowshoe, sled and camp in the deep and fluffy snow.

Weather permitting, the road to Paradise is open daily through January 1, and then Thursday through Monday after the first of the year. Visitors planning to come to the park should check for current weather and road conditions. The road may be closed for snow removal or avalanche control and waits are common. A recorded message about conditions is available by calling 360-569-2211 and on the park's social media pages (Facebook, Twitter). All cars must carry chains, even those with 4WD.

Winter Activities at Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park provides a mix of activities for snow novices and snow experts.


A designated snowplay area near the Paradise parking lot is open through March. For everyone's safety, use "soft" sliding devices - flexible sleds, inner tubes, and saucers. No hard toboggans or runner sleds, and the park asks that these are used only in the designated area.

>>Guided Snowshoe Walks

Guided snowshoe walks of up to 2 miles will also run through March. The walks are offered daily through January 1, and then on weekends and holidays. Walks start at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and meet inside the Jackson Visitor Center (near the information desk) in Paradise. Each walk is limited to 25 people, eight years old or older, on a first-come, first-served basis. A sign-up sheet is available at the Jackson Visitor Center information desk one hour before each walk.

Snowshoes are provided by the park for a $4 donation for those attending the ranger-guided snowshoe walks.

Rainier Snowshoe_BrendaBeck
There's more to look at than Mount Rainier. Photo by Brenda Beck.

>>Snowshoeing and Skiing

Those with snowshoes or cross country skis can strike off in several directions from the Paradise or Narada Falls parking areas. Many people just like to tromp around, but if you're looking for destinations, check with a ranger or try out one of WTA's recommended hikes to Reflection Lakes or Mazama Ridge. Before you go, make sure that you are equipped for the conditions with the proper equipment and clothing. Please review our Winter Safety Tips for details if you haven't been out yet this winter.

The National Park Inn at Longmire is open daily year round and offers snowshoe and other equipment rentals, as well as overnight accommodations, dining and a gift shop.

>>Snow Camping and Climbing

Need a little extra adventure? There are many folks who put on their snowshoes, strap their skis or snowboard to their packs and climb up, up, up - some to Camp Muir 4,400 feet above the parking area. Lots of fun, but you need to know how to cope in changing weather conditions and read avalanche conditions.

Mount Rainier is also a great place to try snow camping for the first time. Campers can venture off-the-beaten track or camp just 300 feet from the road, parking lots and marked routes and buildings, as well as 150 feet from streams. Backcountry permits are required, but easy to obtain, and hard-sided food containers are required. Do note that if you wish to retreat in the middle of the night, your car will be your only option. Gates to the Paradise Road lock at 6pm, and are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Read the details about snow camping at Mount Rainier.

Now what are you waiting for? The weather appears to be improving for the weekend and New Year's, and there is nothing like seeing a snow-white Rainier bathed in sunlight and blue sky. It's a perfect time to try on Mount Rainier National Park in the winter.