Mount Rainier Superintendent Randy King advises that the public sledding area at Paradise will be groomed and staffed through Sunday, March 30. After that date the snow play runs will no longer be maintained and sledding will not be permitted anywhere in the park due to safety concerns. Park staff will utilize the snow play grooming equipment to begin Spring snow removal operations around the park.
While sledding activities will be ending at Paradise, great opportunities still exist for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter camping in the Paradise and Longmire areas. Before heading out, visitors are advised to check the park’s web page at www.nps.gov/mora, call 360-569-2211 for recorded updates or through Twitter at www.twitter.com/MountRainierNPS for current conditions (road, weather and avalanche). Information is updated each morning, as soon as current information is available. Spring can be a wonderful time to experience the park, but dangerous conditions can exist. Visitors should be prepared by checking weather and avalanche forecasts, outfitting themselves with appropriate clothing and equipment for their planned activity, and notifying family or friends of their plans.
The popular Ranger-led snowshoe walks will also continue through March 30. The walks are offered at 11:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. and are limited to 25 people, eight years old or older, on a first-come-first-served basis. A sign-up sheet is available at the Jackson Visitor Center information desk one hour before each walk. Snowshoes are provided by the park. A $5 donation from each participant helps the park provide the walks and repair/replace snowshoes. Participants should have warm clothing, hats, mittens and suitable boots – and don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses.
The main gate at the park’s Nisqually (southwest) Entrance remains open 24 hours, seven days a week, as does the road between the entrance and the historic Longmire District. The road between Longmire and Paradise is gated each evening and reopened each morning as soon as conditions and staffing allow. Monday through Friday, the targeted gate opening time is 9:00 a.m. The gate is closed to uphill traffic at 4:00 p.m. and closed to all traffic at 5:00 p.m. (Vehicles must leave Paradise by 4:30 p.m.) On Saturday and Sunday, the uphill gate remains open until 6:00 p.m. and is closed to all traffic at 7:00 p.m. (Vehicles must leave Paradise by 6:30 p.m.) Morning gate opening remains at 9:00 a.m. Once winter snowfall conditions subside for the season, Rangers will be leaving the Longmire-Paradise gate open all day and night until next winter. A public notification will be made when this occurs.
Road rehabilitation work is currently underway between the Nisqually Entrance and Longmire. Visitors should expect to encounter large equipment, truck hauling and rough road conditions, with delays up to 30 minutes. Drive with caution.
All vehicles entering the park are required to carry tire chains in their vehicle through May 1. Road and weather conditions can deteriorate quickly during Spring storms and traction tires may be advised or chains may be required at any time. Please obey the posted traction requirements to avoid accidents.
The Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center is open weekends only, 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Paradise Camp Deli, located within the visitor center, is open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
The historic Paradise Inn is scheduled to open for the 2014 season on Wednesday, May 21. Reservations for Paradise Inn and the National Park Inn at Longmire can be made by phone – 360-569-2275, or online at www.mtrainierguestservices.com. The National Park Inn at Longmire is open daily and Spring is a great time to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the mountain during an overnight stay. The National Park Inn will be offering an Easter Brunch to the public on Sunday, April 20. For reservations, call 360-569-2411.
Businesses outside the park in the gateway communities, also offer lodging, food services, equipment rentals, get-away packages and other amenities. For local business information web sites visit: www.visitrainier.com, www.mt-rainier.com, www.staycrystal.com, www.minerallake.com, www.destinationpackwood.com, or www.mtrainierguestservices.com.