Winter Recreation

Volunteer snowshoeing at Mather Memorial Sign
A snowshoer  reaches the Mather Memorial Parkway road sign on SR 410, near the start of the White River Road.

NPS Photo

Mount Rainier National Park is a popular place to enjoy winter activities. The mountain receives abundant snowfall and the scenery is spectacular. In winter, recreational opportunities are numerous. A winter visit to Mount Rainier can include:

With the arrival of snow in late October, Mount Rainier's beauty changes and so do its challenges. Visitors planning to travel to the park in winter should familiarize themselves with winter travel tips, road status, weather forecast, and be prepared for potential winter hazards.

Follow @MountRainierNPS on Twitter (account not required to view) for park road status, Longmire gate opening/closing status, and other announcements. For any questions on winter activities and snow conditions, contact the Longmire Information Center at 360-569-6575.

Winter Publications

More information on winter recreation is available in the winter issue of the park's Tahoma News. The Winter Recreation brochure includes a winter recreation map of Paradise with marked trails and other useful winter recreation information. Learn about winter hiking opportunities at Longmire in the Longmire Winter Trails brochure.

 
 

Winter Camping

Learn about winter camping, including regulations and requirements.

Update 11/9/21: Winter Camping in the Paradise area is CLOSED and has not yet opened for the season. The Paradise area requires at least five feet of snow before camping is allowed. Mazama Ridge, Reflection Lakes, and other areas require at least two feet of snow. Maximum party size is 10 people, consistent with state and local health guidelines, or up to 12 people if all members are of the same household. There is no winter group camping for parties of 13 or larger this year.

Winter Food Storage
Habituated Cascade foxes and other wildlife have been obtaining winter campers' food throughout the Paradise/Reflection Lakes/Tatoosh area. This has resulted in damage to camping equipment and increasingly persistent and aggressive wildlife behavior. Proper food storage is required at all times when camping. All campers must hang food, garbage and scented items to keep them out of reach of wildlife, or secure them in an approved hard-sided container (5-gallon plastic buckets with tight-fitting lids, or manufactured wildlife resistant food containers). Hung food should also be stored inside a container to prevent habituated jays and ravens from obtaining food out of stuff sacks.

Please do not feed wildlife. Report any habituated wildlife encounters to a ranger.

 
Brightly dressed childern and adults playing in the snow in front of rustic historic buildings at Paradise.
Families enjoy sledding in the Paradise sledding area.

NPS photo

Paradise Sledding and Sliding

Sledding Status (updated 11/9/21): CLOSED - the Paradise Sledding Area has not yet opened for the season.
Always check road status before heading to the park. Current status of the Longmire gate for the road to Paradise is updated daily on @MountRainierNPS on Twitter (account not required to view).

While beautiful, the greater Paradise area contains avalanche zones, unstable snow bridges and deceptively steep drop offs where sledding activities are unsafe. The official Paradise Sledding Area is the safest and only location that sledding is permitted in Mount Rainier National Park.

The sledding area at Paradise is generally open late December through mid-March, depending on snow. Sufficient snowpack is required to protect the meadow vegetation before the sledding area can be opened. Sledding and sliding are permitted only in the designated sledding area at Paradise, located immediately north of the upper parking lot. Trees, tree wells, and cliffs make other areas dangerous. For everyone's safety, use "soft" sliding devices-flexible sleds, inner tubes, and saucers. No hard toboggans or runner sleds. Note: Check the status of road and avalanche conditions before leaving home. Remember all vehicles are required to carry tire chains when traveling in the park in winter.

 
A ranger leads a group of people through  deep snow.
Explore a different side of Paradise on a ranger-guided snowshoe walk.

NPS Photo

Ranger-Guided Snowshoe Walks

Join a park ranger to learn the art of snowshoeing and discover how plants, animals, and people adapt to the challenging winter conditions at Mount Rainier.

When: No walks available while Jackson Visitor Center is closed. See Alerts for more information.

First-come, first-served guided snowshoe walks at Paradise are usually Saturdays, Sundays, & holidays. Walks are typically offered from late December through March. As staffing allows, walks start at 11:00 am and 1:30 pm and meet inside the Jackson Visitor Center (near the information desk) in Paradise. Sign-ups begin 1 hour in advance of scheduled time.

Distance & Time: Snowshoe walks cover approximately 1.8 miles in 2 hours.

Group size: Snowshoe walks are limited to 25 people, eight years old or older, on a first-come, first-served basis. A sign-up sheet is available at the Jackson Visitor Center information desk one hour before each walk. All snowshoe walk participants must be present at sign-up.

Equipment: For an enjoyable snowshoe walk, you will need:

  1. Snowshoes - Snowshoes are provided by the park only for those attending the ranger-guided snowshoe walks, and only for the duration of the walk. An optional $5.00 donation from each snowshoe walk participant helps the park provide snowshoe walks and repair and replace snowshoes. Additionally, the park concessioner rents snowshoes to anyone wishing to snowshoe in the park; check at the Longmire General Store for availability and rental rates. Or you may use your own snowshoes.

  2. Hat

  3. Mittens/Gloves

  4. Suitable boots (you will sink into the snow even wearing snowshoes)

  5. Sunscreen

  6. Sunglasses

 

Skiing and Snowboarding

To avoid damaging exposed vegetation, a minimum of 5 feet of snow is strongly advised for skiing and snowboarding. Obtain further information at the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise (weekends and holidays) and the Longmire Museum (daily).

 

Snowmobiling

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 or the Carbon River Ranger Station for maps and additional snowmobile information in the park.

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. State Route 410 is closed near its junction with Crystal Mountain Ski Area road, at the north park boundary. Visitors must park in the Silver Springs Campground SNO-park located off of SR410 on the road going to Crystal Mountain. All vehicles must have the State SNO-park pass or be subject to a fine. No vehicles are allowed to park at the park entrance or block the entrance gate.

Snowmobiles are permitted on the 12-mile section of unplowed road from the north park boundary on SR410 to the White River Campground. Snowmobiles may not continue on SR410 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.

Wilderness permits, required for all backcountry camping, and climbing registration cards are available at the north boundary arch on SR410 or by self registration at the Ohanapecosh Ranger Station.

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Last updated: November 23, 2021

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