Thanks to recent winter storms dumping snow on Mount Rainier National Park, there is enough snow to open the Paradise area for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding, according to a news release from the National Park.
The Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise opened Friday and will remain open throughout the winter.
The center is open from 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.
The center will also be open Christmas Day through New Year’s Day, Jan. 15 and Feb. 19.
However, the Paradise snow play area is still closed due to insufficient snow depth.
“A minimum of five feet of snowpack is needed throughout the area to create the run and containment berm, and to prevent resource damage from the grooming equipment and sledding activity,” according to the National Park.
The snow play area is the only place in the park where visitors are allowed to use “soft-sided sliding devices” such as plastic sleds and discs.
Ranger-guided snowshoe walks at Paradise are scheduled to begin Saturday and last through March 25. The walks will be offered on weekends and holidays at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and last two hours each. Sign-ups are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis and will begin one hour in advance of each walk.
On Jan. 6, snowshoe walks for organized groups of 15 to 25 visitors begin. Group snowshoe reservations can be made by calling 360-569-6575 between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Longmire area is open seven days a week, barring a major storm. The Longmire museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The historic National Park Inn is also open daily and provides lodging, food, gifts and snowshoe and ski rentals. For reservations, call 360-569-2275 or go to mtrainierguestservices.com.
The main gate at the southwest entrance to the park will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week unless conditions require a closure. A higher elevation gate between Longmire and Paradise is closed nightly with uphill access closing at 4 p.m.
Standard open hours for the road are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
All vehicles, including four-wheel-drive vehicles, are required to carry chains or other approved traction devices when traveling in the park from Nov. 1 through May 1.
“Road conditions can deteriorate quickly at any time and mandatory chain use may be required even for 4WD vehicles,” according to the park. “Tire chains are available for sale in Ashford and at the National Park Inn in Longmire.”
Information on current weather and road closures at the park is available by calling 360-569-2211 for recorded information. Park information, announcements and the Mount Rainier webcams are available at nps.gov/mora.