Mount Rainier National Park (Washington) recently announced that it will expand public vehicle access to the popular Paradise area this winter. Starting November 15, the road to Paradise will be open five days a week, Thursday through Monday, according to a press release from the National Park Service.
This expanded access follows a more limited schedule last winter, when Paradise was only open to vehicles two days a week due to staffing shortages. While staffing remains a challenge, the park has reorganized to provide more consistent access. The road to Paradise will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the winter season.
“Mount Rainier National Park offers terrific winter recreational opportunities, and making this access change will help visitors make plans knowing that, weather, staffing and equipment permitting, the road to Paradise will be open Thursdays through Mondays when the most visitation typically occurs,” said Park Superintendent Greg Dudgeon.
The Longmire area of the park will remain open daily, except during major storms or emergencies. The park will continue to evaluate the Paradise access schedule based on staffing levels. Overnight winter camping in the Paradise area is permitted Thursday through Sunday nights, conditions permitting.
Unfortunately, the popular Paradise sledding area will not open this winter. With limited staff, the focus will be on clearing roads and parking lots. Sledding is prohibited elsewhere in Mount Rainier National Park.
While Paradise access is expanding, winter recreation opportunities remain unchanged throughout the rest of Mount Rainier. State Routes 410 and 123, providing vehicle access to the northeast, east, and southeast areas of the park, will close soon for the winter season. The east side of the park remains open for hiking, snowshoeing, and other non-motorized recreation. Overnight camping in the backcountry requires a valid permit.
As the seasons change, Mount Rainier provides unique recreational experiences for visitors. The Paradise area offers iconic views of the mountain and opportunities for snow play. Surrounding areas, like Crystal Mountain, also provide downhill skiing and snowboarding.
Park staff emphasize planning ahead and being prepared when recreating in Mount Rainier during the winter. Weather and road conditions can change quickly in the mountains. The park’s website provides up-to-date information on alerts, activities, and winter access.
While colder weather and snow arrives, the National Park Inn and Longmire General Store continue daily operation. Visitors can stop by for food, beverages, and to rent winter gear before heading out to explore Mount Rainier National Park.
With the increase in access this winter, Mount Rainier visitors have more chances to experience the magic of this natural wonderland covered in snow.
Featured image from National Park Service via NPS.gov.