Avoid Summer Congestion

Cars crowd a parking lot.
Parking lots at Sunrise (pictured) and Paradise can fill up quickly on busy summer days.

NPS Photo

The park is experiencing extremely high visitation that is creating long wait times at the Nisqually and White River entrances, and heavy road and parking lot congestion.

On weekends, the Paradise and Sunrise parking lots are filled by late morning. At Paradise, overflow parking is available at the Paradise Picnic Area (within walking distance to the visitor center, on the right as you approach Paradise) and along the Paradise Valley Road. The Paradise Valley Road may require a long uphill walk to access the visitor center, restrooms, and area trails. When the Sunrise parking area is filled to capacity, vehicles are held at the White River Entrance and then slowly metered in as other vehicles depart.

A full parking lot beneath forested slopes and rocky peaks.
Paradise parking area filled to capacity by 1:00 pm, July 11, 2017.

NPS Photo

Tips for Avoiding Summer Congestion

Use these tips to have an enjoyable visit and avoid the worst of the congestion:

  • Visiting on weekdays, and arriving in early morning or late afternoon, can help avoid crowds, long entrance station lines and delays, and difficulty finding a place to park.
  • Have an alternate plan and destination in mind if long lines and waits are encountered entering the park. Experience the sights and activities of gateway communities during peak hours and weekends. U.S. Forest Service lands and the Crystal Mountain Resort provide nearby destination alternatives. Download the NPS App and download Mount Rainier National Park's section so that you can use the app offline to find alternate locations within the park.
  • Using an annual park or interagency pass can minimize time spent at the entrance station and keep the line moving. You may purchase an interagency pass online and have it mailed to you. NOTE: As of May 26, 2023, Mount Rainier National Park has moved to cashless fee collection and accepts only electronic card payments for entrance fees and campgrounds. Electronic payment reduces transaction times, saves money, and improves accountability. Passes can still be purchased in local communities with cash, see the Fees & Passes page for details.
  • Check road status for closures or other delays that may affect your travel plans.
  • At the Nisqually Entrance, please be mindful not to block driveways of neighboring residences and businesses along SR706 in Ashford. Visitors who typically enter via the park’s southwestern entrance near Ashford may also consider the southeastern entrance near Packwood as a shorter-wait alternative on busy weekends during July and August.
  • As wait times increase to enter the park each summer weekend, break up your trip by visiting the public restroom in Elbe on SR706 at the WSDOT-managed Safety Rest Area. In addition, visitors with children may enjoy letting them stretch their legs at the Ashford County Park located at 29801 SR706 in Ashford. The 80-acre park has walking trails, a playground with a large play structure, balancing elements, infant swings, and regular swings. There is plenty of parking, and public restrooms are located next to the playground.

Timed Entry Reservations Required Summer 2024

In 2024, Mount Rainier National Park will implement a pilot timed entry reservation system to improve the visitor experience to the park by reducing wait times, congestion, and resource impacts on trails caused by overcrowding.

  • May 24 through September 2  timed entry reservations are required to enter the Paradise Corridor on the south side of the park from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm.
  • July 4 through September 2  timed entry reservations are required to enter the Sunrise Corridor on the northeast side of the park from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Learn more about timed entry by following the links below.

Text on a blue background overlaid with an image of a log entrance arch.
Timed Entry Reservations

Timed entrance reservations are required from May 24-Sept 2, 2024, to enter the Paradise and Sunrise Corridors between 7:00 am-3:00 pm.

Text on blue background reads "Timed Entry Reservations FAQs"
Frequently Asked Questions

The Timed Entry Reservations FAQs page provides additional details about the reservation program.


Summer Congestion at Sunrise

A parking lot full of cars and people with a sunny sky and Mount Rainier in the back. A parking lot full of cars and people with a sunny sky and Mount Rainier in the back.

Left image
Sunrise parking lot after being opened to the public.
Credit: NPS/Ivie Metzen

Right image
Sunrise parking lot before being opened to the public.
Credit: NPS/Ivie Metzen

Slide the arrows either direction to see the Sunrise parking area before and after spring opening.

Last updated: March 11, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304


360 569-2211

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