The story at Mount Rainier National Park is snow – lots and lots of snow. Which is good news for folks who like their winter recreation that way.
Park officials say there are things to know before heading for the snowy hills. For instance, everyone driving into the park to get their snow fix is required to carry tire chains in their automobiles. That's the rule through May 1. The requirement applies to all vehicles, including the four-wheel-drive kind, and regardless of tire type or weather conditions.
Of course, most of Mount Rainier's roads are closed for the winter. season. The main exceptions are the one from the Nisqually park entrance to Longmire, which is open year-round but may be closed during extreme weather, and the road from Longmire to Paradise, which closes nightly and reopens in the morning once it has been plowed. Icy or snowy roads and poor visibility due to weather can make winter recreation in the park a challenge, say officials who advise the public to know what they're heading into. For instance:
• Tell someone your travel plans so they can notify the park if you fail to return. Don't go alone or in poor visibility.. And if you aren't knowledgeable and prepared, or if the weather is questionable, don't push your luck!
• Cold temperatures, wet snow, and wind can easily rob a person's body heat. To avoid hypothermia and frostbite, dress warmly and stay dry. Wear layers of wool or synthetics like pile and polypropylene under a waterproof shell. Avoid exposure to wind. Snack frequently, drink lots of water, and take warm-up breaks indoors.
• Know where you are and how to reach safety