Mount Rainier National Park prepares for summer

With summer and the July 4 holiday rapidly approaching, Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Randy King advises that additional park areas will soon be opening. Park staff has been working for months to prepare the park for summer visitors.

  • Sunday, June 15, 2014 1:28pm
  • Life

With summer and the July 4 holiday rapidly approaching, Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Randy King advises that additional park areas will soon be opening.  Park staff has been working for months to prepare the park for summer visitors.

Without the effort to remove snow from roads and parking lots, the higher elevation areas of the park would not melt out and be accessible to vehicles until mid-July under normal conditions.   In a normal year Mount Rainier spends over $1 million dollars moving snow to provide public access.

To promote safety and health, ensure a good visitor experience and protect resources, some conditions need to be met before areas of the park are opened to public vehicle access:

  • No safety conflicts with snow removal or opening operations
  • A clear road and shoulders, parking available
  • Regulatory road signs in place
  • Functioning toilets and accessible trash cans
  • Staff presence in the area, including emergency response capability.

The Sunrise area is located at 6,400’ elevation and is off the power grid.  Since May 27, the park’s road crew has been working to remove snow, rock and other material from the Sunrise Road.  This week the crew reached the Sunrise parking lot.  Next week, park utility and grounds crews will begin their work, and signs will be re-installed along the road.   If facilities have not been damaged over winter, it will take the crews two weeks – until June 27 – to dig out, test and activate the power, water and septic systems, and prepare buildings for summer use.  Once potable water is available, employees will move in and prepare the lodge and visitor center to welcome our visitors.

Public vehicle access will be provided to Sunrise on June 20-22, barring a storm or other unforeseen event.  However, flushing toilets, running water or other visitor services will not be available.  The road will be closed to public access June 23-26 to enable the road crew to safely remove remaining rock and other material from the roadside.  The road will reopen to public access on June 27 for the season.  Water and flushing toilets should be available by that date.  Full visitor services, including the Sunrise Day Lodge and Sunrise Visitor Center, will be open and staffed by July 4.   Visitors should come prepared for snow on the ground that persists into July at Sunrise.

Westside Road near the park’s southwestern Nisqually Entrance will be reopened to the Dry Creek area tomorrow June 14.  This area was closed temporarily after several large boulders fell onto the parking area at the trailhead and destroyed a visitor’s vehicle.  A temporary barricade will be in place until the parking area is permanently relocated to better protect visitors from rock fall.

The Ohanapecosh Visitor Center, closed all of last summer due to budget constraints, will open on June 28 for a limited schedule through September 7.

  • June 28-29 (Sat.-Sun.) the visitor center will be open from Noon until 4:00 p.m.
  • July 2 through August 3 the visitor center will be open Wednesday through Sunday from Noon to 4:00 p.m.  Morning Junior Ranger programs will occur Wednesday through Sunday.  Evening campground programs will occur Wednesday through Saturday.
  • August 7 through September 7 the visitor center will be open Thursday through Sunday from Noon to 4:00 p.m.  Morning Junior Ranger programs will be presented on Friday and Saturday; evening Junior Ranger programs on Sundays and Thursdays.  Evening campground programs will be presented Thursday through Saturday.
  • Additional programs for youth and families will be offered at various times.  Check at the visitor center desk for details.

As of June 7, the Mowich Lake area of the park still had about five feet of snow on the ground, with nearly three feet of snow on the last two miles of roadway.  The targeted opening of this road is in early July, following additional snow removal activities at Paradise.

All other areas of the park accessible by vehicles are open for the season.

For updates on current conditions check the park’s webpage at, or 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.”  Recorded park information is also available by calling 360-569-2211.

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