"Mount Rainier" by NPS/Emily Brouwer Photo , public domain
Mount Rainier Guide
Winter Visitor Guide for Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Mount Rainier National Park Mount Rainier National Park Winter 2021 Visitor Guide JD Hascup photo Are You Prepared for Winter on the Mountain? Winter at Mount Rainier is stunningly beautiful and ofers many recreational opportunities for the prepared visitor. However, Paradise-winter operations will look diferent this year. There is no food service at Paradise, and the Jackson Visitor Center is closed due to COVID-19. Food and retail are available at Longmire. We ask that you do your part to protect your health and the health of others during your visit. Winter on the mountain requires special caution for backcountry skiers, snowshoers, and campers. As you head up the mountain for a short snowshoe walk or a multi-day climb be aware of conditions and have a plan to selfrescue, if necessary. The park does not mark hazards, stabilize avalanche slopes, or designate safe routes. Proper planning and preparation can help you survive an unexpected night on the mountain. Consider the following questions before starting on a hike or climb: • • • • • Have you checked the weather forecast? Are you equipped to survive overnight if whiteout conditions prevent travel? Are you tuned in to avalanche hazards and snow traps that can develop over streams? Can you depend on your winter skills, and those of the people traveling with you? Do you have a hiking partner? Your Car is Your New Warming Hut There is no indoor space available to get out of the weather and warm up. Consider your vehicle part of your winter emergency gear for shelter and warming. Longmire-Paradise Road Closes Nightly The road to Paradise closes nightly at Longmire and reopens at 9:00 am, conditions permitting. Check @MountRainierNPS on Twitter for daily road updates. Plan to leave Paradise by 4:30 pm to clear the Longmire gate by its 5:00 pm closure. The uphill gate at Longmire closes at 4:00 pm. The Nisqually Road to Longmire is open 24/7, unless impacted by severe weather. Stop at Longmire for Food and Necessities Grab and Go meals and necessities are available at the National Park Inn. The Longmire Museum is closed. Restrooms at Longmire are open. Practice Winter Wellness Be respectful of others. Cover your nose and mouth when you can’t maintain at least six feet from other groups or when in indoor spaces. If you feel sick, always stay home. Build an Inclusive Outdoors Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities. Mount Rainier is the traditional land of the Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island, and Yakama tribes. Indigenous traditional practices are intrinsic with the land and continue to this day. Cellular Service Cellular service is not available in most of the park. Cell service is available near the main parking area at Paradise. No Pets on Trails or Snow Leashed pets are permitted only in parking lots and along roads open to public vehicles. Walking on roads is not recommended due to hazards from snowplows. WINTER - S PR I NG 202 1 A L E RT S ! Plan Ahead for Limited Services Sledding and Paradise Snowplay Area Ranger-led Snowshoe Walks Canceled Tire Chains Required November 1st - May 1st The Jackson Visitor Center and the Longmire Museum are closed due to COVID-19. There is no food service at Paradise. Restrooms are available. For current information on services check locally or on the park website https://www.nps.gov/ mora/planyourvisit/covid-19-visitorguide.htm The Paradise snowplay area will not open until public health guidelines related to the COVID-19 are met and there is suffcient snow coverage. Sledding inside the park is not permitted in locations other than the Paradise snowplay area. More information on page 2. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ranger-led snowshoe walks are canceled for the 2020-21 winter season. All vehicles are required to carry tire chains when driving in the park November 1st until May 1st. Use may be required at any time. See page 4 for more information. Winter Recreation Snowplay Area Snow Camping The snowplay area will not open until public health guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic are met and there is sufcient snow coverage to prevent resource damage. At Mount Rainier National Park, sliding and sledding are permitted only in the designated snowplay area, located immediately north of the upper parking lot at Paradise. The snowplay area may remain open until late March, depending on snow. Snow camping requires a permit and sufcient snow depth to prevent resource damage. Free permits are available at the Longmire Museum (Monday-Thursday), Longmire Wilderness Information Station (Friday-Sunday), Paradise Ranger Station as stafng allows, and at the winter closure of SR410. See Facility Hours on page 4. Camp in designated areas well away from buildings, marked trails, and parking lots. When you fnish camping, collapse igloos and snow caves to keep others from falling in. Fires are not permitted. Because of the high potential for personal injury and frequency of accidents, no other area of the park is open to sliding (except skiing and snowboarding). Serious injuries and fatalities have occurred elsewhere when people have mistakenly slid over waterfalls, into trees, down steep slopes, or broken through thin snow into stream gorges. • Access the snowplay area from the main trailhead behind the visitor center. • 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. • Be sure the run is clear before starting your slide. Collisions may cause serious injury. • Take broken sleds home for disposal. Dress warmly and in layers with a wicking fabric such as wool or polypropylene next to the skin and a waterproof outer layer, not in jeans or T-shirts. Wear a hat, gloves, and waterproof boots. Take a warm-up breaks in your car. Climbing & Backpacking Over 10,000 people attempt to climb Mount Rainier each year. Around 70 well-skilled climbers attempt it in winter. Camping and climbing in winter are much more demanding and hazardous than in summer. The climbing fee is $51 dollars/person 25 years and older, and $35 dollars/person 24 years and younger, per calendar year and can be paid in advance at www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/ climbing.htm. Permits are required for all overnight stays in the wilderness and for travel above 10,000 feet and/or on glaciers. Permits are available in person at the Longmire Museum (Monday-Thursday), Longmire Wilderness Information Station (Friday-Sunday), and by self-registration on the front porch of the Paradise Ranger Station and the White River Wilderness Information Center (closed for winter). See Facility Hours on page 4. Overnight parking at Paradise is in designated areas only. See the overnight parking map on page 4. Guided climbs and climbing seminars available by: • Alpine Ascents International (206) 378-1927 • International Mountain Guides (360) 569-2609 • Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (888) 892-5462 NOTICE: Marijuana is Illegal in Mount Rainier National Park While limited recreational use of marijuana is 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. Camping Sleeping in vehicles outside of campgrounds is not permitted. The gate at Longmire to Paradise closes nightly. Snowplows routinely operate on the wrong side of the road when it is closed. Avoid parking lots and roads until morning plowing activities are complete. Before driving downhill, check with a ranger or listen to Radio 1610-AM Paradise, to be sure the road is open and that your vehicle meets the traction requirement. Group snow camping of 13 or more is not permitted this year. Access to 24-hour restrooms and an emergency phone are available in the upper parking lot near the Guide House. Others should use “blue bags” to remove human waste from the park and/or deposit blue bags in the special barrel provided. The blue bag barrel is located in the tunnel to the Paradise upper parking lot restroom. Do NOT throw blue bags in trash cans! Proper food storage is required. Hang your food, garbage, and scented items or secure in approved hard-sided containers. Hard-sided containers are required for camping at Paradise, Refection Lakes, Tatoosh, and Mazama Ridge. Wildlife-resistant food containers are available for loan––ask a ranger when you get your permit. Approved containers for winter camping at Paradise are fve-gallon plastic buckets with tight-ftting lids, or manufactured wildlife resistant food containers. Snowplows Working! Never ski, slide, or camp on plowed roadways or parking lots! Whether the road is open or closed, snowplows may be working nearby. Winter Wildlife The snows of winter concentrate wildlife where life is easier––where shallow snow provides easier travel and access to food. Parking areas and roadways are effcient travel corridors for deer and foxes, and deer may fnd the most available forage along roadways. Many visitors mistakenly think that feeding the animals helps them through the winter months. But this brings wildlife closer to roads and people, where they can be injured or killed by vehicles. Please pick up food particles and do not leave your lunch on your bumper––a fox or a jay will fnd it. Feeding wildlife is illegal and you may be fned. Overnight parking is allowed in designated areas only. Do not set your parking brake; it may freeze. Skiing, Snowshoeing, & Snowboarding Before starting out for the day, check the weather forecast and determine the avalanche hazard. Avalanche information, a weather forecast, and winter maps that show marked trails and popular unmarked routes are available from the Longmire Museum (daily) and Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise (weekends and holidays). In early winter or in years of low snowfall, trees and other plants are damaged by skiers and snowboarders when snow depth is not sufcient to protect vegetation. Ski and snowboard only in those areas where the snow is deep enough to cover and protect vegetation. Accessibility Most comfort stations, visitor centers, picnic areas, and designated campsites are accessible or accessible with help by wheelchair. Accessible lodging is available inside the park and in local communities. An audio description and the Braille fle of the park brochure available at https://www.nps.gov/ mora/planyourvisit/park-brochure. htm. Braille copies of the park brochure are available at entrance stations and visitor centers. No Drone Zone! Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft (drone) within the boundaries of Mount Rainier National Park is prohibited. Stay on designated trails or hike on thick patches of snow to protect vegetation. Wildlife Do not feed, approach, or disturb wildlife. 2 | Mount Rainier National Park | Visitor Guide | January 1 - April 30, 2021 #RainierWinter Share your winter experience @MountRainierNPS online! #RainierWinter #FindYourPark #EncuentraTuParque #MRNP #NPS Mount Rainier National Park Acting Superintendent Tracy Swartout E-mail MORAInfo@nps.gov Park Headquarters (360) 569-2211 Lost and Found MORA_Lost@nps.gov Website www.nps.gov/mora Winter Safety Winter Backcountry Travel, Are You Ready? History has shown that snow, wind, and low visibility conditions resulting from winter storms signifcantly increase visitor mishaps and serious accidents in the backcountry. Many winter hikers and snowshoers are not prepared for the routefnding challenges or winter weather conditions that can occur at any time. Conditions change rapidly during the day, and freezing temperatures, wet snow, and high winds can be encountered at any time during your hike. This has left many day and overnight hikers, skiers, and snowboarders exposed and suddenly thrust into life-threatening situations due to weather resulting in injuries and fatalities. Be aware that mountain weather changes rapidly––a pleasant outing can quickly be transformed into a survival ordeal. Make sure you are aware of weather forecasts for the area, and heed any cautions or warnings. Navigation in storm conditions can be extremely difcult. If you are ascending and clouds or fog start rolling in, turn around and head back to the trailhead. If that’s not possible, stop moving, dig in, and wait for better weather. Prepare for the fact that daylight hours are short in winter; you will have less time to get out to your destination and to return. Always carry a fashlight or head lamp, and extra batteries. Having proper gear (adequate boots, ice axe, the winter ten essentials, etc.) is a must. Be prepared for route-fnding conditions. A GPS device with local maps pre-loaded, extra batteries, and knowledge of how to use it is the only way to navigate the Muir Snowfeld in poor visibility. Even a great map, compass, and altimeter will not work in poor conditions on the snowfeld. Trails may be snow-free at lower elevations but anticipate and prepare for snow at higher elevations. If you plan on retracing your route back to the trailhead note important landmarks and consider using wands on snow-covered trails. If the trail becomes difcult to follow, stop and determine where you are before continuing. It is extremely important that you know how to use your navigation tool. Leave information on your route with someone back home. Additionally, when traveling in the backcountry, text someone at home a picture from your turnaround location and, if possible, GPS coordinates, if cell service is available. This will be valuable, timesaving information for searchers if you encounter an emergency and are unable to return safely. Most importantly, plan your route ahead of time, have a backup plan, and never travel alone. If at any point you begin to feel uncomfortable or unprepared, turn around, get out safely, and call it a day. Mount Rainier will be waiting for you on your next trip. 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. Debris fows and rockfalls, however, can occur with little warning. 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! A location 200 feet or more above river level should be safe. New to a Snowy Mount Rainier? Welcome! Mount Rainier in winter is a different experience. Ideas on how to explore this winter wonderland without hiking or snowshoeing: Walk around the scenic architecture of Longmire, drive the road to Paradise to take in the snowy views, or try your hand at winter photography. Plan Ahead Before you head out, make sure you pack everything you need. Have the proper safety gear including extra layers, heat packs, wool or pile hat and gloves. Consider your vehicle part of your winter emergency gear for shelter and warming. Prior to driving to the park check the park webcams and weather forecasts for current conditions. Road Rules Check your routes before you hit the road, drive to the conditions (SLOW DOWN!), and have a fully stocked emergency kit in your car. All vehicles are required to carry tire chains or AutoSocks when visiting Mount Rainier National Park. Visit @MountRainierNPS on Twitter for possible Paradise Road opening delays or closures. The Buddy System is Your Friend Do not hike alone. Make sure someone responsible back home knows when you are starting, when you are ending, where you will be in between (approximate route), and even what you are wearing. Additionally, when traveling in the backcountry, text someone at home with a picture from your turnaround location and, if possible, GPS coordinates, if cell service is available. This will be valuable, timesaving information for searchers if you encounter an emergency and are unable to return safely. Don’t Have the Right Gear? Don’t Go Carrying the Winter 10 Essentials is as important as life or death. If you do not have what you need to survive create an adjusted adventure plan to make sure you get home safely. It is Okay to Turn Around If you or anyone from your party feels unsafe, take a break to reevaluate, turn around, or fnd another activity. Make sure everyone is comfortable speaking up when they feel unsure. The mountain will always be here for you to explore. Know the Symptoms of Hypothermia and Frostbite Pay attention to not only how you feel before you start your hike but also while you are hiking. Symptoms of hypothermia include: uncontrolled shivering, loss of coordination, clumsiness, stumbling, slurring of speech, confusion or diffculty thinking, drowsiness, shallow breathing, and a weak pulse. Frostbite symptoms include: cold prickly feeling, numbness, and skin that is hard, waxy-looking or changing colors. Don’t Get Left Out in the Cold Weather changes quickly and unexpectedly. Know when it is time to call it quits and head back to the trailhead. If it starts to get cloudy, consider returning to the trailhead earlier than intended. Plan to leave Paradise by 4:30 pm to make it to Longmire before the gate closes for the evening. Avalanche Aware! Snow avalanches are common in winter and spring. The greatest danger to you is an avalanche that you trigger by skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or climbing in avalanche terrain. Summer trails may lead through avalanche terrain. Consider snowpack, weather, and topography in selecting your route. Ask yourself, “Will this slope slide?” and if it does, “Where will I or my partner go?” Carry an avalanche transceiver, probe, and shovel. Even small avalanches can be deadly. Winter storms along the Muir Snowfeld can produce hurricane force winds, blinding snow, and white out conditions. Avalanches occur with frightening regularity in the Paradise area. Each person in the hiking party should carry and know how to use a beacon, probe, and shovel. Avalanche conditions challenge even the best mountaineers. Obtain daily avalanche forecasts from the Northwest Avalanche Center at http://www.nwac.us/. Before your hike, consult a park ranger for current conditions on the mountain. Give advance notice of your plans to a responsible person so they can contact rangers if you fail to return. Cell phone coverage is limited inside the park. Carry the Winter 10 Essentials and know how to use them! • • • • • • • • • • Shovel (avalanche rescue, emergency shelter/dig a snow cave) Full Length Insulated Sleeping Pad Stove & Fuel (melt water) Heat Packs Goggles & Wool/Pile Hat Gloves (waterproof/lined) Avalanche Transceiver Avalanche Probe Reliable Weather & Avalanche Forecasts Map, Compass, & GPS (with extra batteries) Winter Conditions Reports Avalanche Hazard Forecasts (206) 526-6677 http://www.nwac.us/avalancheforecast/current/cascade-west-south/ Highway Pass Reports (800) 695-7623 or dial 511 http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffc/passes/ Mount Rainier National Park | Visitor Guide | January 1 - April 30, 2021 | 3 Winter Driving and Facility Hours Facility Hours In Case of Emergency Dial 911 from any phone located inside the park. Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise The building is closed, but rangers staff an information table 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturday - Sunday Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise Camp Deli & Gift Shop Closed. Stop at the Longmire National Park Inn for grab and go meals on your way to Paradise. Paradise Ranger Station Wilderness camping and climbing permit self-registration. Paradise Overnight Parking Areas Conditions permitting, road hours Longmire to Paradise are 9:00 am - 5:00 pm daily. Lower Lot Overnight Parking No Parking 24-hour Restrooms and Pay Phone By backcountry permit only Park head-in to island Paradise Inn (Closed in winter) Climbing selfregistration kiosk To Longmire 12 mi. Narada Falls Overnight Parking Longmire Wilderness Information Center The building is closed, but rangers are available to assist with self-registration for wilderness camping permits 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Friday-Sunday.* * Arrive at Longmire by 3:30 pm at the latest to obtain a permit to get through the gate to Paradise before it closes at 4:00 pm. Carbon River Ranger Station The building is closed. Self-registration for wilderness camping permits. National Park Inn at Longmire Open year-round Lodging, grab and go meals. Reservations (360) 569-2275 or mtrainierguestservices.com Front Desk 7:00 am – 10:00 pm daily Dining Room Breakfast 7:00 am – 10:30 am daily Lunch 11:30 am – 3:30 pm daily Dinner 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm Sunday-Thursday 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm Friday-Saturday Longmire General Store Open year-round Food, gifts, books, apparel 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Sunday-Thursday 8:30 am – 6:00 pm Friday-Saturday Services Outside Mount Rainier National Park Narada Falls Check @MountRainierNPS on Twitter or Radio 1610-AM for road updates and closure information. Winter Driving Safety As road and weather conditions change throughout the day, traction requirements may also change. Tire chain requirement updates are posted on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MountRainierNPS. Listen to Radio 1610-AM at Paradise for updates to changing road information and requirements. Most of Mount Rainier’s roads are snowed in and closed to vehicle access during winter. The road from Nisqually Entrance to Longmire is open yearround, but may close during extreme weather. Rangers and snowplow operators evaluate road, weather, avalanche, and stafng conditions each morning before making a decision on whether it is safe to open the gate to Paradise. The Longmire to Paradise road hours are approximately 9:00 am - 5:00 pm daily, conditions permitting. The road may close early or remain closed the entire day due to avalanche danger, severe weather, or with a shortage of the necessary stafng to maintain safe access. Visitors must head downhill from Paradise by 4:30 pm to clear the Longmire gate by its 5:00 pm closure. The uphill gate at Longmire closes at 4:00 pm. All vehicles are required to carry tire chains when driving in the park in winter and spring. Use may be required at anytime. Vehicles over 10,000 pounds must carry a second set of chains and chain up whenever traction tires or chains are required. AutoSocks are allowed for passenger vehicles under 10,000 pounds as an alternative traction device. Gasoline, lodging, dining, recreation equipment rentals, and religious and other services are available in local communities. To Longmire 8 miles Become A Mount Rainier Steward Turn your passion for Mount Rainier into action that will beneft visitors today and tomorrow! Consider joining our team as a park volunteer. Your contribution of time and energy will protect the magnifcent 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 www.nps.gov/mora/getinvolved/ volunteer.htm. Washington’s National Park Fund serves as the park’s ofcial philanthropic partner. Founded by Governor Daniel Evans in 1993, the Fund, a 501(c) (3) nonproft organization, accepts charitable gifts that are then given back to the park for projects focusing on these four main areas: • • • • Trail Maintenance and Search and Rescue Youth and Education Programs Science and Research Volunteerism and Stewardship Whether you adopt a trail mile, include Mount Rainier in your will, or purchase a Washington State 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. Visit http://wnpf.org/ for more information. Tax ID#: 01-0869799 Keep in Touch Gas is Not Available Inside the Park Visit the park’s offcial website nps.gov/mora and join us on social media @MountRainierNPS. Check winter road updates on Twitter. Park Partners To Paradise 4 miles Park head-in to bank The building is closed, but rangers are available to provide information 9:00 am – 4:30 pm daily. Wilderness permits available MondayThursday 9:00 am – 3:30 pm.* wnpf.org Day use parking Jackson Visitor Center Longmire Museum Washington’s National Park Fund Upper Parking Lot Mount Rainier National Park Volunteers www.nps.gov/ mora/getinvolved/ volunteer.htm Washington Trails Association www.wta.org Discover Your Northwest www.discovernw.org 4 | Mount Rainier National Park | Visitor Guide | January 1 - April 30, 2021 Visit Rainier visitrainier.com @MountRainierNPS Mount Rainier National Park Associates www.mrnpa.org Mount Rainier Institute www.packforest.org/ mtrainierinstitute/