Mount Rainier National Park transitioned to winter hours and services earlier this fall, with the gate at Longmire closing nightly through March. Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 27, the park will close the road between Longmire and Paradise to public travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week through the winter.
Barring major storm events, Longmire and the park will remain open seven days a week, a park news release said Wednesday.
The park is open for overnight winter camping with a valid permit seven days a week, but vehicle access will not be maintained from Longmire to Paradise on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Therefore, if visitors are parked at Paradise when the road closes on a Monday evening, they should not expect to be able to drive back to Longmire until the road opens on Thursday morning (weather permitting).
"We are strategically deploying available park staff and resources to provide access to Paradise Thursday through Monday, the five days of the week with greatest visitation," Superintendent Randy King said.
Visitation statistics show that Tuesday and Wednesday are, on average, the park's least visited days, with fewer than 60 visitor vehicles coming through the Nisqually Entrance on a typical day. By focusing staff on fewer days, the park will be better able to provide access and services during times of greatest visitation, including more consistent road plowing and emergency patrols for visitor safety.
On Thursdays through Mondays, and every day during the Christmas holiday, the road from Longmire to Paradise will open as soon as the park's snow plows can make it safe for travel. In good weather the road may open as early as 7 a.m., but in bad weather (or following a heavy snowfall) the road opening may be delayed to late morning or, in some cases, may not open at all. All vehicles are required to carry tire chains when entering the park. Road conditions can deteriorate quickly during the day and mandatory chain use may be required even for 4WD vehicles.
The Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise will be open on weekends and holidays through March. The Paradise snowplay/sledding area will open during the Christmas holiday provided snow depth is adequate.
Highways 123 and 410, and the Stevens Canyon Road east of Paradise, and the White River, Sunrise, and Mowich Lake Roads are now closed to vehicle access for the winter, but remain open to winter recreation.
Backcountry travelers should get an update on current and projected snow, avalanche, and weather conditions before coming to the park, and be prepared to survive winter conditions.
"Mount Rainier provides outstanding winter recreation opportunities and has been doing so for over 100 years," King said. "It's a wonderful time to visit the park and the area, provided visitors come prepared for winter conditions."
Visitors are encouraged to obtain up-to-the-minute updates on road conditions and restrictions by calling the park at 360-569-2211 and listening to recorded information. You can also connect to Mount Rainier National Park through our social media pages. Join the Mount Rainier community on Facebook, find out breaking news and road status updates through Mount Rainier's Twitter feed, explore the park and behind-the-scenes operations with our videos on YouTube, and share your own photos of Mount Rainier with other visitors in the Mount Rainier Flickr group.
Click here to read the park's statement in full.