"Mount Rainier" by NPS/Emily Brouwer Photo , public domain
Mount Rainier Guide
Visitor Guide for Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Mount Rainier National Park | OfficialPark Newspaper Mount Rainier National The Tahoma News Spring 2019 | May -June Keep in Touch! Mount Rainier National Park www.nps.gov/mora North Coast and Cascades Science & Learning Network http://nwparkscience.org/ @MountRainierNPS Road status updates on Twitter Photo ©Cavenphoto/Korsmo Signs of Spring Spring comes slowly to the mountain. The sound of falling water marks the warmer days, although snow flurries in May and June may have you questioning the season. Yet in time, spring does arrive. You will see signs of spring while traveling through the park. Make time to let Mother Nature entertain you and you will be richly rewarded. For example, this is perhaps the best time of year to view waterfalls as they brim water fed by melting winter snow. Green leaves burst from their buds, mushrooms carpet the forest floor, and birds arrive back at the mountain. Welcome to Mount Rainier National Park, a crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest and of the National Park System. We are proud to reopen the Paradise Inn Annex on May 17th after rehabilitation of this National Historic Landmark. We celebrate the efforts of all involved in the specialized work required to rehabilitate this important part of our heritage. The renovation of the Paradise Inn represents the kind of major investments the National Park Service is doing across the country to preserve our heritage while simultaneously reducing deferred maintenance. This work is funded through a combination of concession franchise fees, park entrance fees, and congressional appropriations. As a result of these wise investments the Paradise Inn, which so many hold dear in their hearts, will be a part of memories of generations of visitors to come. Lowland flowers, clockwise from upper left: coltsfoot, skunk cabbage, trillium, calypso orchid (fairy slipper) Don’t overlook the forest wildflowers that bloom much earlier than their subalpine counterparts. You’ll find white coltsfoot and three-petaled trillium blossoms in lowland forests, and yellow skunk cabbage blooming in marshy areas. Look carefully for the elusive fairy slipper or calypso orchid (Calypso bulbosa), a great springtime discovery; they grace us with their presence for only a few short weeks. We invite you to stop by the Paradise Inn for a night, a meal, or to find a memento in the gift shop. If nothing else, wander through the lobby, or sit for a while and soak in the ambiance and rich history of this rustic landmark. Spring is a time of new birth. You may find wildlife with their young offspring in tow around the Trail of the Shadows at Longmire. Geese and goslings glide quietly on beaver ponds and black-tailed deer browse the meadow with their spotted fawns, while the chorus of frogs and songbirds fill the air. What springtime treasures does the mountain have waiting for you to discover? Photos ©Cavenphoto/Korsmo Chip Jenkins Superintendent JD Hascup photo Visiting Your Park Mount Rainier National Park was established in 1899 to preserve natural and cultural resources and to provide for public benefit and enjoyment. The following information will help you protect yourself and your park. Have You Seen a Fisher? The park is tracking recently reintroduced Pacific fishers by aircraft through signals emitted from implanted transmitters. You can help by reporting fisher sightings to a ranger. Remember that fisher, marten, and mink are very similar looking species. Even the experts can get them confused and photos (even fuzzy ones) are very helpful. One thing to look for is a long, bushy tail (a third of the total length) that is bushy all the way to the base. Marten and mink tails are tapered at the base. Fisher’s ears are also much smaller in profile compared to marten and mink. Camping Camp in designated campsites only. Sleeping in vehicles outside of campgrounds is not permitted. Fires in the Park Make fires only in established fire grills. Collecting firewood is prohibited. Marijuana is Illegal While limited recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Washington State, possession of any amount of marijuana or other illegal drugs remains illegal in Mount Rainier National Park, surrounding national forests, and all federal lands. Wilderness Camping Mount Rainier National Park offers outstanding wilderness hiking and camping opportunities. Wilderness camping permits are required for all overnight stays in the park’s backcountry yearround. Permits and backcountry information are available at all wilderness information centers and most visitor centers. Although permits are free, there is an optional, fee-based reservation system for campers and climbers in effect May through September. Backcountry reservations are $20 per party (1-12 people) for 1 to 14 consecutive nights. Seventy percent of all backcountry sites and zones are available for reservation. The remaining 30 percent are issued on a first-come, first-served basis the day of or one day before the trip begins. Wilderness permits must be obtained in person at the Longmire Wilderness Information Center, White River Wilderness Information Center, or the Carbon River Ranger Station. See page 4 for hours. Mount Rainier: An Active Volcano Active steam vents, periodic earth tremors, and historic eruptions provide evidence that Mount Rainier is sleeping, not dead. Seismic monitoring stations around the mountain should provide days or weeks of advance warning of impending eruptions. Other geologic hazards, however, can occur with little warning. These include debris flows and rockfalls. Mercury in Park Lakes Research studies have shown mercury is present in some trout in a few park lakes. Check the Washington Department of Health website http://www.doh.wa.gov/ for information on fish consumption. Tree Hazards Keep a lookout for dead, diseased, or leaning trees that could fall or drop branches. Avoid stopping or picnicking near these hazardous trees. On windy days be especially careful, strong winds and gusts can do great damage even to healthy trees—as well as anything in range of falling debris. No Drone Zone! Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft (drone) within the boundaries of Mount Rainier National Park is prohibited. Become A Mount Rainier Steward Turn your passion for Mount Rainier into action that will benefit visitors today and tomorrow! Consider joining our team as a park volunteer. Your contribution of time and energy will protect the magnificent natural and cultural areas entrusted to us, and you’ll go home with a sense of pride at having participated in something worthwhile. Volunteer in the park for a day, a summer, or on weekends as your schedule permits. Learn more at http://www.nps.gov/mora/getinvolved/volunteer. htm. Washington’s National Park Fund serves as the park’s official philanthropic partner. The Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, accepts charitable gifts that are then given back to the park for projects focusing on these four main areas: • • • • Improving Visitors’ Experiences by maintaining trails, supporting the park’s Search and Rescue program, and improving campgrounds. Bringing more Youth and Families––many of whom might otherwise never visit––into the park. Funding necessary Science and Research on glaciers, rivers, flora, and fauna. Strengthening Mount Rainier’s Volunteerism and Stewardship activities. The Fund provides support for nearly 2,000 volunteers whose efforts are valued at $1.8 million! Whether you adopt a trail mile, include Mount Rainier in your will, or purchase a Washington National Parks license plate for your vehicle, they all add up and have a major impact on this beloved place. Please consider giving back to Mount Rainier National Park through Washington’s National Park Fund. For more information please go to the Fund’s website wnpf.org or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are near a river and notice a rapid rise in water level, feel a prolonged shaking of the ground, and/or hear a roaring sound coming from upvalley–– often described as the sound made by a fast–moving freight train––move quickly to higher ground––200 feet above river level should be safe. Detailed information is available at park visitor centers or from scientists at the U.S.G.S. Cascades Volcano Observatory, 1300 SE Cardinal Court, Building 10, Suite 100, Vancouver, WA 98661, vulcan.wr.usgs.gov. Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins Park Headquarters (360) 569-2211 Lost and Found (360) 569-6608 Park Partners Washington’s National Park Fund wnpf.org Mount Rainier National Park Volunteers www.nps.gov/ mora/getinvolved/ volunteer.htm Washington Trails Association www.wta.org Discover Your Northwest www.discovernw.org 2 | Mount Rainier National Park | Tahoma News | May-June 2019 Visit Rainier visitrainier.com Mount Rainier National Park Associates www.mrnpa.org Mount Rainier Institute www.packforest.org/ mtrainierinstitute/ Know Before You Go Hazards of the Season Many early season hikers are not prepared for challenges encountered by changing conditions and a snowpack that lingers late on the mountain. Route-Finding Challenges Trails may be snow-free at lower elevations but anticipate and prepare for snow at higher elevations. Conditions change rapidly during the day and footprints in the snow quickly disappear. This has left many day hikers disoriented upon their return trip, expecting to simply follow their own tracks back to the snow-free trail. This results in many lost individuals, injuries, and fatalities. When route-finding, note important landmarks. If the trail becomes difficult to follow, stop and find where you are on the map before continuing. Be Prepared If at any point you feel uncomfortable or unprepared, turn around. If you plan on retracing your route back to the trailhead consider using wands on snow-covered trails. Always carry a good map and compass, and actively use them on snowcovered trails. Also consider supplementing your map and compass with an external antenna GPS for best coverage beneath a forest canopy. Consider the steep snow slopes, melt holes, thinning snow bridges, and other early season hazards that you may encounter, and be honest with yourself in assessing your skills and experience. Watch for streams flowing underneath snow. Snow Avalanches are Common in Spring The greatest danger is an avalanche that you trigger by skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or climbing. Be prepared for travel in avalanche terrain. Carry a transceiver, probe, and shovel and know how to use them. Determine if the location you are traveling is avalanche prone. If in doubt, ask questions or don’t go. Unstable snow may slide at any time . . . not just in winter! Even small avalanches can be deadly. Mountain Weather Changes Rapidly A pleasant outing can quickly transform into a survival ordeal. Proper gear (adequate boots, ice axe, the ten essentials, etc.) is a must. Navigation in spring storms can be extremely difficult. If you’re ascending and clouds or fog start rolling in, turn around and head back to the trailhead. If that’s not possible, stop, dig in, and wait for better weather. Cross Streams Safely Many hikers underestimate the power of moving water and some consider their former successful stream crossings as a ticket to the other side. This may not be true. Use these pointers in making wise decisions when crossing streams. • Early morning when river levels are generally at their lowest is the best time to cross. • Look for an area with a smooth bottom and slow moving water below knee height. • Before crossing, scout downstream for log jams, waterfalls and other hazards that could trap you. Locate a point where you can exit if you fall in. • Use a sturdy stick to maintain two points of contact with the ground at all times. • Unfasten the belt of your pack so you can easily discard it if necessary. • Staring down at moving water can make you dizzy. Look forward as much as possible. Plan Ahead • • • • • • Protect yourself by wearing appropriate outdoor clothing including footwear. Be prepared for rapidly changing weather. Carry the ten essentials even on a short sightseeing hike. Always tell someone of your travel plans so they can notify the park if you fail to return. Do not travel alone. If visibility is poor, do not travel at all. Most importantly, plan your route ahead of time and have a backup plan. Climbing Each year, approximately 10,000 people attempt to climb Mount Rainier. Nearly half reach the 14,410-foot summit. Climbing permits are required for travel above 10,000 feet and/or on glaciers. Climbing information–including fees, routes, and conditions–is available on the park website and at Wilderness Information Centers at Longmire, White River, and Paradise. See page 4 for hours. Pay your annual climbing fee through pay.gov; keep your receipt and print or save it on your phone to serve as proof of payment; and bring a picture ID. Guided climbs and seminars are available through: Alpine Ascents International (206) 378-1927 International Mountain Guides (360) 569-2609 Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (888) 892-5462 Classic Backcountry Practices Leave No Trace • • • • • • • Plan ahead & prepare Travel & camp on durable surfaces Dispose of waste properly Leave what you find Minimize campfire impacts* Respect wildlife Be considerate of others *Fires are for emergency use only; they are not allowed in Mount Rainier’s Wilderness Carry the 10 Essentials and know how to use them! 1. Map and compass 2. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and hat 3. Extra clothing (warm!) and rain gear 4. Flashlight or head lamp (extra batteries) 5. First aid supplies 6. Waterproof matches or lighter 7. Repair kit and tools (for gear) 8. Extra food 9. Extra water 10. Emergency shelter You Can Help Protect Mount Rainier Keep Wildlife Wild Human food puts animals at risk and some die as a result. Birds like jays or ravens are effective nest predators–– eating the eggs or young of other birds. By feeding birds, visitors concentrate these nest predators near roads and trails and inadvertently contribute to the death of songbirds in the same area. Before you step off the trail... ... consider this: each step into a meadow crushes an average of 20 plants! When exploring Mount Rainier’s fragile meadows hike only on maintained trails or thick patches of snow. • • • • Please do not feed the wildlife. Store your food in an animalproof container, or inside your car. Do not leave food, beverages, pet food, or toiletries unattended for any length of time. Clean up picnic areas after you eat. Please drive carefully and watch for wildlife. Mount Rainier National Park | Tahoma News | May-June 2019 | 3 Information, Facilities, and Services In An Emergency Dial 9-1-1 from any phone located in the park. Spring Programs Longmire Museum (360) 569-6575 Ranger programs, exhibits, information, books May 1 - May 27 9:00 am - 4:30 pm daily May 28 - June 11 Closed June 12 - June 30 9:00 am - 4:30 pm daily Longmire Wilderness Information Center (360) 569-6650 Wilderness camping & climbing permits, general information May 24 - June 30 7:30 am - 5:00 pm daily National Park Inn at Longmire Open year-round Lodging, dining room Front Desk: 7:00 am - 10:00 pm daily Longmire General Store Open year-round Lodging, dining room May 1 - June 7 10:00 am - 5:00 pm daily June 8 - September 1 9:00 am - 8:00 pm daily Carbon River Ranger Station (360) 829-9639 Located on the Carbon River Road 5.5 miles east of the Mowich Lake (SR165) junction. Wilderness camping & northside climbing permits, general information Call for hous in May June 1 - September 30 7:30 am - 5:00 pm daily Paradise Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center (360) 569-6571 Ranger programs, exhibits, information, theater, books, food, gifts May 1 - May 3 Closed May 4 - June 14 10:00 am - 5:00 pm daily June 15 - June 30 10:00 am - 7:00 pm daily Paradise Jackson Visitor Center Snack Bar & Gift Shop Food, gifts, books May 1 - May 3 Closed May 4 - June 14 10:00 am - 4:45 pm daily June 15 - September 1 10:00 am - 6:45 pm daily Ranger-led Programs Food & Lodging Join a park ranger or volunteer for a talk, guided walk, or evening program. These free programs explore the park’s natural and cultural history. For in-park lodging reservations, contact Rainier Guest Services (360) 569-2275 mtrainierguestservices.com Evening Programs Cougar Rock Campground, June 21-22 and June 28-29 at 8:30 pm Ohanapecosh Campground, June 21-22 and June 28-29 at 8:30 pm Ohanapecosh Visitor Center (360) 569-6581 Ranger programs, exhibits, information, books May 24 - June 30 9:00 am - 5:00 pm daily Junior Ranger Programs Paradise, starting June 21, drop in stations, 12:30-3:30 pm daily Cougar Rock Campground, starting June 21, 45-minute programs, 5:00 pm daily Ohanapecosh, June 21-23 and June 28-30, 10:00 am White River Wilderness Information Center (360) 569-6670 Wilderness camping and eastside climbing permits, general information May 24 - June 30 7:30 am - 5:00 pm daily Paradise Wilderness Information Center (Guide House) (360) 569-6641 Wilderness camping and climbing permits, exhibits, general information May 3 - 19 7:00 am - 4:00 pm weekends Self-registration only Mon-Thurs May 24 - June 30 7:00 am - 4:00 pm daily Paradise Inn Lodging, dining room, cafe, gift shop Open May 17 - September 30 Front Desk open 24 hours daily Citizen Ranger Quests Has your inner Junior Ranger never really gone away? Try out a Quest! They are designed for older children (12 and up) and adults. Information on Quests is available at visitor centers. Sunrise Visitor Center (360) 663-2425 Exhibits, information, books Proposed opening June 28 10:00 am - 6:00 pm daily Junior Ranger Books Hey Kids! Ask for a Junior Ranger Activity Book. It’s FREE at all park visitor centers. Complete it to learn lots of cool stuff about your park and earn a badge and certificate. Sunrise Day Lodge Snack Bar & Gift Shop Food and gifts. Day use only, no overnight lodging June 29 - September 8 10:00 am - 7:00 pm daily Services Outside Mount Rainier National Park Gasoline, lodging, dining, recreation equipment rentals, and religious and other services are available in local communities. GAS IS NOT AVAILABLE IN THE PARK. Road Opening Schedule Estimated Dates (subject to change) Nisqually to Paradise Open Westside Road to Dry Creek Open Paradise Valley Road June 28 Stevens Canyon Road May 24 State Route 410/Chinook Pass Memorial Day Weekend Cayuse Pass via SRs 410 & 123 White River Road to White River Campground Parking Lot May 17 Sunrise Road June 28 Mowich Lake Road June 28 Please use caution while driving. Drive-in Campgrounds Campground Open Dates Elev. Sites Group Sites Toilets Dump Station Maximum RV/Trailer Length Cougar Rock* May 24 - Oct. 14 3,180’ 173 5 Flush Yes RV 35’/Trailer 27’ Ohanapecosh* May 24 - Oct. 14 1,914’ 188 2 Flush No RV 32’/Trailer 27’ White River June 21 - Sept. 30 4,232’ 112 0 Flush No RV 27’/Trailer 18’ Mowich Lake Primitive walk-in campground, tents only. 10 sites. No fee (must self-register at campground kiosk). Vault toilets, no potable water. No fires allowed. Elevation 4,929’; generally open July through early October, depending on road and weather conditions. Call 360-829-9639 for information. *Advance reservations are recommended for individual sites at Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh Campgrounds from June 22 through the night of September 1. These can be made up to six months in advance. Reservations for group sites are recommended and are available throughout the season. These can be made up to one year in advance. To make a reservation online, go to www.recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777. 4 | Mount Rainier National Park | Tahoma News | May-June 2019