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).
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:
- The Nordic Center at White Pass on the south side of Mount Rainier offers great options for skiing and snowshoeing, and the White Pass downhill ski area also has a tubing hill.
- Copper Creek Hut Snowshoe (off of State Route 706 near Ashford)
- Snow Bowl Hut Snowshoe (off of State Route 706 near Ashford)
- Sun Top Snowshoe (off of State Route 410 south of Greenwater, near northeast corner of the park)
As always, remember to plan ahead and take all appropriate steps when heading out to play in the snow this winter.
- Sno-parks: What permits you need and what you need to know before visiting a sno-park
- Snowshoeing 101: What you need to know to get started
- Winter safety tips: How to stay safe in the snow and cold
- What to wear: How to dress for a winter hike
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.