With the accumulation of sufficient snowpack, the Paradise Snowplay Area sledding runs have been groomed and are ready for park visitors. The official Snowplay Area is the safest and only location that sledding is permitted in Mount Rainier National Park.
Sledding (Snowplay) Area
• Is clearly marked by poles and ropes and is suitable for children
• There is a small sledding hill just for small children
• Only plastic and soft-sided sled devices may be used (no wooden or metal sleds permitted)
• Snowshoeing and skiing are not permitted in the Snowplay Area
• Visitors are responsible for maintaining public health guidelines. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, visitors should recreate only with members of their household, wear a mask and maintain social distance from other groups
• Pets are permitted only in the parking lot
The Snowplay Area is located above the upper parking lot at Paradise, near the visitor center and Paradise Inn. Visitors should drive to Paradise and park, walk to the upper lot if necessary and continue up the snow ramp on the uphill side of the parking lot.
Visitors should review the following information to ensure their visit is safe and enjoyable.
Weather at Mount Rainier
Visitors should understand that weather and road conditions at Mount Rainier are likely to be very different compared to where they may be traveling from. While traveling up to Paradise, drivers will encounter unpredictable winter alpine weather and icy roads. Visitors should start their planning with a review of the Mount Rainier Recreational Forecast. This local forecast provides the most timely and accurate information for weather at various elevations and locations in the park. Visit the park’s website, https://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm, for general information on safe winter recreation.
Roads, gates and public access
Many park roads and developed areas are typically closed in winter. Staff plow from the Nisqually entrance to Paradise starting at 5 a.m. daily, with priority given to roads and critical facilities in Longmire. Crews then clear the road between Longmire and Paradise, with a goal of opening the gate between Longmire and Paradise by 9 a.m. The actual opening time will vary. Each morning, a risk assessment matrix is used that considers current and projected weather, road and avalanche conditions, equipment status and available staffing. Unlike other roads and highways in the state, the road to Paradise is maintained without salt, with minimal sanding, and without blasting for avalanche control. In addition, the park’s small crew does not support a 24-hour operation. For safety, the gate to Paradise closes nightly, with uphill access ending at 4 p.m. to allow visitors to exit by 5 p.m., when the gate is locked for the night. While staff understand that visitors are disappointed when the gate opens later than projected, public and staff safety is the highest priority. Please note that a clear parking lot at Paradise on the webcam doesn’t mean the road to Paradise is safe. All vehicles must carry tire chains or other state-approved traction devices inside the park.
Camping is allowed in many areas throughout the park in winter with a valid permit. Access to camping is dependent on road conditions and snow depth.
Paradise Day Use Zone Winter Camping (Paradise area, outside of Wilderness)
• Snow camping allowed with a permit
• Sites must be more than 300 feet from buildings, roads, established winter trails and the designated Snowplay Area
• The maximum party size is six people (up to 12 people if from the same household)
Winter Camping, parkwide (outside of Paradise)
• Camping is allowed with a permit when snow depth exceeds 2 feet depth at the site
• Sites must be more than 200 feet from roads and at least 300 feet from lakes, streams and wetlands
• The maximum party size is 6 people (up to 12 people if from the same household)
Backcountry travelers are encouraged to get updates on weather conditions, current and projected snowfall and avalanche conditions before coming to the park. Backcountry travelers must heed warnings and come prepared to survive winter conditions.
Vehicle access to other areas of the park is closed for the winter, but the following areas remain open for non-vehicle based primitive recreation, with no services available. Please note that temporary closures may become necessary due to changing conditions:
• Carbon River Road
• Mowich Lake Road
• Paradise Valley Road
• Ricksecker Point Road
• SR123 (Cayuse Pass)
• SR410 (Chinook Pass)
• Stevens Canyon Road
• Sunrise Road
• Westside Road
•White River Road
Getting current information
All changes are announced on the park’s Twitter feed. Always check @MountRainierNPS for the latest status. A Twitter account is not required to view announcements.
More information on the range of services available in and around the Mount Rainier area can be found on their websites: mtrainierguestservices.com, visitrainier.com, mt-rainier.com, destinationpackwood.com, discoverlewiscounty.com, stayrainier.com and whitepassbyway.com.
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