How can you tell the Pacific Northwest has been enduring a drought? There hasn't been enough snow -- until just recently -- to open the snow play areas at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park. But they'll open tomorrow.
Park officials say last weekend's storms brought the snow depth at Paradise to 112", providing enough snow to open the snow play runs beginning tomorrow. Conditions permitting, the runs will be open through the three-day holiday weekend, as will the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise.
The park road crew has been clearing the 3.5 feet of snow from roads, parking lots, and around the buildings at Paradise. Once completed, they will turn to grooming the snow play runs in time to open Saturday morning.
The weather forecast appears to be good for the entire weekend, but there is always the chance that roads may be impeded or closed due to weather conditions or other unforeseen issues. Check road and weather conditions before coming to the park.
The road to Paradise is open seven days a week, weather and staffing permitting, with nightly closures. Rangers and snow plow operators evaluate road, weather, avalanche, and staffing conditions each morning before making a decision on whether it is safe to open the gate to Paradise. Even on sunny days avalanche danger and icy roads can create hazards requiring the road to be closed.
All vehicles are required to carry tire chains when driving in the park from November 1 through May 1. Traction tires or chains may be required on any type of vehicle, at any time.
The Longmire to Paradise road hours are 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily, under ideal conditions. The road may close early or remain closed the entire day due to avalanche danger, severe weather, or from a shortage of the necessary staffing to maintain safe access.
Visitors must leave Paradise by 4:30 p.m. to clear the Longmire gate by its 5 p.m. closure. The uphill gate at Longmire closes at 4 p.m.
Longmire is open daily except in the case of extreme weather or road conditions. The Carbon River Road is closed to vehicles just past the entrance parking lot, but is open to pedestrians and bicycles.
Recreationists should be prepared for winter conditions by carrying the Winter 10 Essentials: shovel (avalanche rescue); Full Length Insulated Sleeping Pad; Stove & Fuel (melt water); Heat Packs; Goggles & Wool/Pile Hat; Gloves (waterproof/lined); Avalanche Transceiver; Avalanche Probe; Reliable Weather & Avalanche Forecasts; and Map, Compass, & GPS (with extra batteries).
Be aware of hazards such as flowing creeks covered by snow and avalanche danger, and be able to navigate in a winter environment. Heed all cautions or warnings—weather can change suddenly in extreme ways. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety.