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Paradise at Mount Rainier Only Open on Weekends: What to Know and Where to Go Instead

The road to Paradise at Mount Rainier National park will be closed on weekdays this winter due to staffing shortages. The road will be available for public use only on Saturdays and Sundays for the remainder of the winter season. The sledding area will remain closed all season, even on weekends. The road closure will put some of the park's most popular winter destinations, like Panorama Point, out of reach for many visitors, and might create some additional weekend traffic.

Mount Rainier National Park’s Paradise Road will be closed on weekdays this winter due to staffing shortages that could impact visitor safety. The road, which connects Longmire up to Paradise, will be available for public use only on Saturdays and Sundays for the remainder of the winter season. The sledding area will remain closed all season, even on weekends. The road closure will put some of the park's most popular winter destinations, like Panorama Point, out of reach for many visitors, and might create some additional weekend traffic. (It is unknown at this time how early in the morning Paradise Road will open on weekends.)

The greater Longmire area (which is in the southwest corner of the park) will remain open seven days a week, excluding significant storm impacts. On the east side of the park, the seasonal passes of Cayuse (on State Route 123) and Chinook Passes (on State Route 410) will be closed as normal. Visitors can still snowshoe, ski, and snowboard on State Route 410 up to White River Campground (on the northeast corner of the park).

A snowshoer standing in front of Mount Rainier.
The Paradise area is extremely popular for winter snow play, but the road to the area will only be open on weekdays this season. Photo by Isabel Uriarte.

What’s behind the limited access?

The short story: Mount Rainier doesn’t have enough staff. The limited openings are part of the park’s effort to accommodate staffing constraints for the winter season at Mount Rainier. The park’s maintenance staff has been working at nearly half of its potential capacity since the summer season. The people who staff our parks and national forests, the folks who keep visitors safe and maintain infrastructure are an important — and often overlooked — piece of public lands access. Opening access without the necessary staffing creates an unsafe environment for recreators.

Greg Dudgeon, Mount Rainier National Park’s superintendent, has reached out to the greater National Park Service in an effort to gain more staffing resources from neighboring states. However, other National Parks across the country are experiencing similar shortages at this time.

How, and where, to play in the snow

While many people rely on Mount Rainier for their winter fun, there are other nearby options for snow play. Here are some additional trails to consider in the area:

As always, remember to plan ahead and take all appropriate steps when heading out to play in the snow this winter.

Protect access

WTA works all year long to protect funding and access for trails. Public lands can accommodate those who hope to get outside, but the places that bring joy are in need of your help to keep them accessible. WTA staff and other recreation organizations are working with Mount Rainier National Park to try to prevent these types of closures in the future. Sign up to be a part of WTA's Trail Action Network and protect access for everyone

Comments

Boot on Paradise at Mount Rainier Only Open on Weekends: What to Know and Where to Go Instead

You need to speak the truth. Mr. Dudgeon has COMPLETELY FAILED at his job if you believe lack of personnel is the issue here. Please stop pandering to his mismanagement and complete failure as a Park Superintendent. I don't know his motives, but he CLEARLY couldn't care less about the public and the priority of access to OUR PARK. If it's really about his failure to hire personnel, then he's a failure at his job. I had to do my job 100% and did. I have no sympathy and am angry that he has shut us out. TOTAL FAILURE!

Posted by:


Boot on Dec 15, 2022 08:54 PM

Uli on Paradise at Mount Rainier Only Open on Weekends: What to Know and Where to Go Instead

I was hoping the article actually answers the question of "what's behind d the limited access?"
Staffing shortage. WHY?
Is there enough funding and there are open positions that can't be filled despite an honest attempt to hire more staff? If that's the case, does the park continue to try to hire more staff?
Were staff positions cut due to lack of funding? If so, why was funding for winter staff cut?
Since you talked with Mr Dudgeon, why didn't you ask the probing questions on behalf of your membership?

Posted by:


Uli on Dec 18, 2022 08:06 PM

Joseph Gonzalez on Paradise at Mount Rainier Only Open on Weekends: What to Know and Where to Go Instead

Hi Uli,

There are a variety of reasons why the National Park Service is experiencing staffing issues nation-wide. Some major themes are a competitive job market, lack of affordable housing, and a lack of qualified applicants.

Additionally, many federal land management position seasonal salaries haven't been adjusted for inflation.

Please rest assured that we will continue to do everything in our power to advocate for you and the rest of our community when communicating with Mount Rainier National Park.

Posted by:


Joseph Gonzalez on Dec 19, 2022 01:25 PM

George & Sally on Paradise at Mount Rainier Only Open on Weekends: What to Know and Where to Go Instead

Besides Paradise being only open during the weekends and closed Monday through Friday, what about the businesses in Ashford and others near the park who count on visitors to Mt. Rainier NP during the weekdays to help pay their bills? With most people not coming to the park during the weekdays since Paradise is closed those businesses are losing money. Are the MRNP staff only working Sat./Sun.? What about the other 3 days they are suppose to be working?

Posted by:


George & Sally on Dec 19, 2022 01:47 PM

Joseph Gonzalez on Paradise at Mount Rainier Only Open on Weekends: What to Know and Where to Go Instead

Hi George and Sally,

Most park staff are seasonal, as much of the front-country amenities and services in the park are not offered during the winter months. Ultimately, the challenging decision to close Paradise Road during weekdays is to compensate for a lack of staffing - meaning the staff that is still available will continue to work their regular hours at areas of the park that are open (Longmire, etc.).

Posted by:


Joseph Gonzalez on Dec 19, 2022 02:21 PM

CMAD on Paradise at Mount Rainier Only Open on Weekends: What to Know and Where to Go Instead

Hello WTA, I’m a member and one of your trail volunteers. I care a lot about trails becoming more restricted yet here I see not a peep from WTA, the group that literally puts in the legwork to keep them open as the NPS, USFS, etc, lose their budgets. Mt rainier is on the slippery slope where staffing issues are used as a very convenient excuse to deny access to land owned by its citizens. Last time I looked Mother Nature doesn’t deliver good weather on a schedule convenient to the park superintendent. The park “highway” is open from the end of May until the first snowfalls in October. That’s about 5 whole months. What is Mt rainier’s mission? Drive thru Disneyland? C’mon. Don’t roll over and miss the chance to ask a public servant who made this decision and why no public input? Ask the question please thank you.

Posted by:


CMAD on Jan 21, 2023 05:40 PM

Joseph Gonzalez on Paradise at Mount Rainier Only Open on Weekends: What to Know and Where to Go Instead

Hi CMAD,

Thanks for being a member and for volunteering. Please rest assured that our teams are in conversations with the park's superintendent to remedy the current staffing and access situations. We recognize the impact it has made on the outdoor community in Washington and are eager to see it back to being open on weekdays as soon as we can.

In the meanwhile, we encourage all who are concerned with the current Paradise Road status to sign up for our Trail Action Network to receive periodic alerts and updates about important issues, such as this one, that affect hikers like you: https://www.wta.org/get-involved/action/sign-up-for-trail-action-network

Posted by:


Joseph Gonzalez on Jan 23, 2023 12:06 PM

owlharbor on Paradise at Mount Rainier Only Open on Weekends: What to Know and Where to Go Instead

I read the article, but it is missing a lot of information. What is the past years' funding? I have worked in facility operations and maintenance most of my career and it's where the biggest cuts come. The property and buildings suffer along with the customer. It’s expensive to build new, and if you maintain it the longevity is amazing. I agree with the others you must ask questions and need to be involved before a decision like this is made.

Posted by:


owlharbor on Jan 25, 2023 04:20 PM