News and Information
The NP is in the last month of winter operations, see access and conditions for information. The Nisqually entrance in the southwest is the only entrance open through the winter, all the rest are closed for the season as is the north-south highway (410 and 123) over Cayuse Pass on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains.
This year early-mid April is still winter in the NP where there still is significant snow in the lower elevations this year and the possiblity of storms with rain/snow in mid elevations and snow in the upper elevations. While the snowpack in the lower elevations will melt later in April, the snowpack will persist in the mid-upper elevations during the month into late spring and early summer.
A Few Notes.-- There are a few things of note which are changes in the operations in the NP for visitors. The first is that the snowplay is closed (March 31st) and winter camping will be discontinued sometime later in April or May depending on the snowpack and the snowmelt. No date has been set yet as they monitor the snowpack.
The second is important for those wanting to the part or all of the Wonderland Trail this year. The first choice lottery for campsite permits is from reservations filed between March 15th and April 1st. After that reservations are first come, first served.
The last is that the nightly road closure between Longmire and Paradise controlled at the gate east of Longmire ends April 15th. It is also now open 7 days a week. You can check the status each day with the NP's Twitter account
In addition to the above mentioned seasonal closures there are restrictions on roads and for travellers through the winter. The first of these is that all vehicles must carry chains while in the NP. Chains are readily available at almost every tire store in western Washington, many with return policies in the spring if they were not used during the winter.
Out of state and international travellers.-- This also means visitors coming to the area and renting vehicles must ensure the vehicle has chains. This is often a common practice with car rental agencies in the winter, but it is best to always ask and ensure chains are included in the rental and vehicle.
During April almost all the trails have snow to depending on the current seasonal snowpack and daily weather with rain/snow storms. There will be less snow in some areas of the NP, such as the Carbon River valley and the Longmire area. For any trail you should check the most recent trail conditions for the trails you're interested during your visit but still be ready for unexpected weather and trail conditions.
One important note. Please stay on the designated trails when hiking in open fields or across meadows and don't wander off because of bad trail or snow conditions or to get some photographs. These areas are sensitive to damage in the spring and may not recover for summer season.
Note.-- With the winter weather and conditions persistent, this still means you should plan, get the most recent information, be prepared for quick and severe changes in the weather and conditions and be flexible with your plans and schedules, especially when and where the NPS issues advisories.
Spring Snowmelt.-- Risks when wading or crossing streams and rivers can occur in late winter into spring with high snowmelt runoff. These flows are caused by the seasonal snowmelt but increase during warmer daytime temperatures in spring and late in the afternoon or early evening with higher flows than in the early morning hours.
Advisory about Guns.-- Beginning February 22, 2010, openly carrying guns in the NP is legal and concealed with a legal permit. However, there are a number of conditions, which you can find here with links to additional information.
It is illegal to carry a gun indoors and it is illegal to use or fire a gun anywhere in the NP.
This is especially important in the visitors areas, the campgrounds, on the trails, and in the backcountry. You can only openly carry a gun or concealed with the proper (state permit) and nothing else. You can not withdraw, use or discharge the weapon anytime or anywhere in the NP. The NPS has trained and instructed the park and backcountry rangers to treat all visitors as if they are carrying a gun unless it is clear the visitor is not carrying a gun.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources (WA DNR) has produced a geology guide with road trips for Mt. Rainier and vicinty, IC 107 by Patrick Pringle. You can buy or download it.
The NPS has open several proposed projects and planning efforts to public comment. You can get details and add your comment on their Public Comment Web page. Become a participant in your National Park.
The NP seasonal photo guide and new or updated area guides are forthcoming. Please read the latest NPS news release on backcountry hikes. The NPS is advising backcountry hikers to be prepared for weather and trail conditions and ensure you don't extend or endanger yourself or your hiking party.
Foldout photography guide and maps are available for the southern and northern halves of Mt. Rainier NP, by Tom Haseltine, etal. Road Guide to Mt. Rainier NP, by Barbara and Robert Decker. This book (48 pages) is dated 1996 and some information isn't current.
Please use the contact link to send e-mail.
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