"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 Tahoma News | Win intter 2021 - 2022 Vi Visitor Guid Guide All vehicles are required to carry tire chains when driving in the park through May 1st. Use may be required at any time. Paradise and Longmire Winter News Winter is the perfect time to explore historic Longmire with its rustic buildings draped in snow, wintry trails, and, on clear days, views of the mountain. Before heading up to Paradise, visit the Longmire National Park Inn for food and lodging, or purchase gifts and necessities at the general store. Talk to a ranger, get a passport stamp, or pick up winter trail maps and Junior Ranger Books in front of the Longmire Museum (daily) or at the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise (weekends and holidays). The exhibits and buildings are closed this year and ranger-led snowshoe walks are canceled. Restrooms are open. Enjoy sledding (more information on page 2), crosscountry skiing, winter camping, and snowboarding at Paradise. See the Facility Hours on page 4 for snowshoe and ski rental locations inside the park. Obtain backcountry camping permits in front of the Longmire Museum (daily) or inside the Longmire Wilderness Information Center (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). There is no indoor space available to get out of the weather and warm up at Paradise. Consider your vehicle part of your winter emergency gear for shelter and warming. 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 year-round, but may close during extreme weather. The Carbon River Road and adjacent trails closed to the public in November 2021 when a road washout made access unsafe. Check the park website for current status nps.gov/mora. The Longmire to Paradise road opens daily at approximately 9:00 am. Plan to leave Paradise by 4:00 pm to clear the gate prior to the 5:00 pm nightly closure. The road may close early or remain closed the entire day due to avalanche danger, severe weather, or with a shortage of the necessary staffing to maintain safe access. The uphill gate at Longmire closes at 4:00 pm. While you are waiting for the Longmire gate to open, please park in the parking lot behind the museum, not in a traffic lane. The land currently administered as Mount Rainier National Park has been since time immemorial the ancestral homeland of the Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island, Yakama, and Coast Salish people. By following elders’ instructions passed through generations, these indigenous peoples remain dedicated caretakers of this landscape. Their traditional knowledge and management of this sacred land will endure in perpetuity, and we honor each nation’s traditions of landscape stewardship in our endeavors to care for, protect, and preserve the resources of the mountain. See page 4 for winter driving safety tips and traction requirement information. Your Actions Make a Difference Mount Rainier National Park was created to protect and preserve unimpaired iconic Mount Rainier, along with its natural and cultural resources, values, and dynamic processes. The park provides opportunities for people to experience, understand, and care for the park environment, and provides for wilderness experiences while sustaining wilderness values. To help safeguard Mount Rainier, and its these resources and intrinsic values we ask that you consider the following during your time here: • • Do your part to protect your health and the health of others during your visit by following posted mask and social distancing requirements. Keep Wildlife Wild by not feeding or approaching animals. Feeding wildlife • • • • can be as direct as offering a bit of your lunch, or as indirect as leaving your food or garbage for animals to find. Leave No Trace of your visit. Planning ahead and being prepared, disposing of waste properly, and leaving what you find, are just a few ways you can Leave No Trace. Respect the land and all that is connected to it as the original stewards of this land did and their descendants continue to do today. Welcome all people you encounter during your visit regardless of their identities or abilities. Keep safety in mind. Watch for changes in weather and conditions. Know your limits when exploring Mount Rainier’s trails and backcountry. Stay safe and enjoy your visit! No Pets on Trails Pets are not permitted 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. No Drone Zone! Drones are not allowed anywhere in Mount Rainier National Park. This includes launching, landing, and operating drones. Limited Cell Service Cellular service is not available in most of the park. Cell service is available near the main parking area at Paradise. Gas is Not Available Inside the Park Gas stations are located in local communities. W I N TER -SPRING 2 02 2 AL ERTS ! Plan Ahead for Limited Services No Food Available at Paradise No Ranger-led Snowshoe Walks Carbon River Area Access Due to COVID-19 the interiors of the Paradise Visitor Center and Longmire Museum are closed. Rangers staff information desks outside the buildings. More information on services is available at nps.gov/mora. 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 and Paradise are open. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ranger-led snowshoe walks are canceled for the 2021-22 winter season. The Carbon River Road and adjacent trails closed to the public in November 2021 when a road washout made access unsafe. Check the park website for current status nps.gov/mora. Winter Recreation Paradise Sledding Area Snow Camping At Mount Rainier National Park, sliding and sledding are permitted only in the designated sledding area at Paradise once there is adequate snow and runs are groomed. Because of the high potential for personal injury and frequency of accidents, no other area of the park is open to sledding (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. Snow camping requires a permit and sufficient snow depth to prevent resource damage. Permits are available for $6 at the Longmire Museum (Monday-Thursday), Longmire Wilderness Information Station (Friday-Sunday), Paradise Ranger Station as staffing 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 finish camping, collapse igloos and snow caves to keep others from falling in. Fires are not permitted. Sledding may remain open until late March, depending on snow. 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. • • • • Access the sledding area from the main trailhead behind the visitor center, immediately north of the upper parking lot at Paradise. 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 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 $53 dollars/person 26 years and older, and $37 dollars/person 25 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 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. Audio description and a Braille file of the park brochure are available at www.nps.gov/mora/ planyourvisit/park-brochure. htm. Braille copies of the park brochure are available at entrances and visitor centers. Winter group camping permits (13 or more people) can be obtained in advance on Recreation.gov once there is five feet of snow in the Paradise area. 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, Reflection 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 five-gallon plastic buckets with tight-fitting 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 efficient travel corridors for deer and foxes, and deer may find 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 find it. Feeding wildlife is illegal and you may be fined. 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 sufficient to protect vegetation. Ski and snowboard only in those areas where the snow is deep enough to cover and protect vegetation. 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. Stay on designated trails or hike on thick patches of snow to protect vegetation. Camping Sleeping in vehicles outside of campgrounds is not permitted. 2 | Mount Rainier National Park | Winter Visitor Guide 2021 - 22 #RainierWinter Share your winter experience @MountRainierNPS online! #RainierWinter #FindYourPark #EncuentraTuParque #MRNP #NPS Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Gregory Dudgeon 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 significantly increase visitor mishaps and serious accidents in the backcountry. Many winter hikers and snowshoers are not prepared for the routefinding 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 difficult. 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 flashlight 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-finding 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 Snowfield in poor visibility. Even a great map, compass, and altimeter will not work in poor conditions on the snowfield. 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 difficult 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 flows 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. 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 Snowfield 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. 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 find 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 difficulty 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 4:00 pm to make it to Longmire before the gate closes for the evening. 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 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 https://wsdot.com/travel/real-time/mountainpasses/ Mount Rainier National Park | Winter Visitor Guide 2021 - 22 | 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 outside 10:00 am – 4:00 pm weekends and holidays. Talk to a ranger, get a passport stamp, or pick up winter trail maps and Junior Ranger Books. 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 Overnight Parking Areas Conditions permitting, road hours Longmire to Paradise are 9:00 am - 5:00 pm daily. Lower Lot Overnight Parking By Wilderness Permit only No Parking 24-hour Restrooms and Pay Phone Paradise Inn Park head-in to island (Closed in winter) Climbing selfregistration kiosk To Longmire 12 mi. Narada Falls Overnight Parking Wilderness camping and climbing permit self-registration. The building is closed. Talk to a ranger, get a passport stamp, or pick up winter trail maps and Junior Ranger Books at the front window 9:00 am – 4:30 pm daily. Wilderness camping permits available Monday-Thursday 9:00 am – 3:30 pm.* Longmire Wilderness Information Center Wilderness camping permits and information 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 Wilderness camping permits and information 8:30 am - 4:00 pm daily 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 Saturday and Sunday. Dine in only. 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 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 staffing 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 staffing 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. To Longmire 8 miles 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 www.nps.gov/mora/getinvolved/ volunteer.htm. Washington’s National Park Fund serves as the park’s official philanthropic partner. Founded by Governor Daniel Evans in 1993, 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: • • • • 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 national park 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 Gasoline, lodging, dining, recreation equipment rentals, and religious and other services are available in local communities. Visit the park’s official website nps.gov/mora and join us on social media @MountRainierNPS. Park Partners Check winter road updates on Twitter. wnpf.org Mount Rainier National Park Volunteers www.nps.gov/ mora/getinvolved/ volunteer.htm To Paradise 4 miles Park head-in to bank Services Outside Mount Rainier National Park Washington’s National Park Fund Day use parking Jackson Visitor Center Paradise Ranger Station Longmire Museum Upper Parking Lot Washington Trails Association www.wta.org Discover Your Northwest www.discovernw.org 4 | Mount Rainier National Park | Winter Visitor Guide 2021 - 22 Visit Rainier visitrainier.com @MountRainierNPS Mount Rainier National Park Associates www.mrnpa.org Mount Rainier Institute www.packforest.org/ mtrainierinstitute/