Snowmobiles in the NP
Snowmobiles are permitted in many National Parks (NP) and while many of the NP's have programs for the snowmobiles to travel extensively throughout the NP, Yellowstone the most notable, Mt. Rainier NP has some less advertised opportunities for snowmobilers to enjoy the NP and this Web page with the accompanying map will describe those opportunities.
Note.-- The snowmobile season is open throughout the NP, see NP Information.
With Mt. Rainier NP being a road accessible NP, there are several good roads for winter travel once the permanent seasonal winter snow has arrived and the roads are closed to vehicles and open for winter travellers whether they're cross-country skiiers, snowshoers, or snowmobilers.
As is known the east side of Mt. Rainier has a north-south state highway from the northeastern boundary to the southeastern boundary, specifically highway 410 from the north to Cayuse Pass and eastward over Chinook Pass to Yakima and highway 123 off highway 12, which continues east over White Pass to Yakima, meeting highway 410 at Cayuse Pass.
The south side of the NP has a east-west highway, highway 706, from the intersection with highway 123 west to south of Paradise and to Longmire and the southwest Nisqually entrance. In addition, the old Puyallup Road, now the Westside Road, extends from the intersection with highway 706 over Round Pass to the west-central area of the NP.
These highways and roads provide some good opportunities for snowmobiles when not being used by vehicles, and the NPS has provided three places for them. Below is the information provided by the NPS for snowmobiles in Mt. Rainier NP.
"In the southwest corner of the park, snowmobiles are permitted for 6.5 miles along the Westside Road from its junction with the main park road as far as Round Pass. Beyond Round Pass, the Westside Road is closed to snowmobile use. Snowmobiles are also permitted on all the road loops of Cougar Rock Campground. The campground is closed to overnight use during winter and the roadway is left unplowed. Contact a park ranger at the Longmire Museum for maps and additional snowmobile information."
"On the north side of the park, no ranger station is open in the winter. The US Forest Service District Office in Enumclaw provides information and maps for White River, Carbon River, and Mowich Lake areas. For more information, call the USFS District Office in Enumclaw at (360) 825-6585. Highway 410 is closed near its junction with Crystal Mountain Ski Area road, at the north park boundary."
Snowmobiles are permitted on the 12-mile section of unplowed road from the north park boundary on Highway 410 to the White River Campground. Snowmobiles may not continue on Hwy 410 south of the White River Road turnoff. They are also prohibited from proceeding beyond the closure at the White River Campground road junction towards Sunrise. Snowmobiles must stay on the road corridor; they are not allowed to proceed beyond the campground towards Glacier Basin. Be aware of avalanche danger and the weather forecast."
"In the southeast corner of the park, snowmobiling is allowed on Stevens Canyon Road from Stevens Canyon Entrance to the road tunnel at Box Canyon. Wilderness permits, required for all backcountry camping, and climbing registration cards are available at the north boundary arch on Highway 410 or by self registration at the Ohanapecosh Ranger Station."
Please note, snowmobiles are not allowed on highway 410 past the White River Road and NP entrance. Snowmobiles are not allowed on highway 123 even after the highway is closed for the season. Snowmobiles may not be allowed on the Westside Road past the Dry Creek trailhead if there are barriers across the road. This is to prevent damage to the Fish Creek Crossing during the winter.
Snowmobilers should remember to follow the rules, share the road and be aware of cross-country skiiers and snowshoers on the roads who aren't travelling as fast or can move off the road as quickly to avoid accidents.
As much as you want to argue the impact of snowmobiles in a National Park, snowmobiles in Mt. Rainier NP changes the visitor's experience and photographer's access to more areas. While snowmobilers can argue snowmobiles offer easier access to the NP, even in the restricted areas, you can't argue the noise they create and the disparity in travel along the roads between snowmobiles and other winter travellers.
But that said, they offer photographers a way to get into the backcountry with extra photography gear. It's also about sharing the road with winter foot travellers. Snowmobile safely.
Below are some resources for snowmobilers in the NP.
Please use the contact link to send e-mail.
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