Live in the high country of the Pacific Northwest and you get used to snow, lots of it. And so, despite 13 feet of snow piled about Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park will have many facilities ready for visitors come Memorial Day weekend.
With that goal in mind, crews are plowing snow from the Stevens Canyon Road (east/west park connection), cleaning up the roadsides and ditches, and placing information and regulatory signs along the roadways of the newly opened areas; starting up water and utility systems at Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh campgrounds, and the Box Canyon and White River areas; and cleaning and preparing the Paradise Inn to welcome visitors for its 97th season. In addition all the park's housing units must be opened and cleaned for the 200+ seasonal employees, many who live in the park throughout the summer.
Here's a list of the areas and facilities scheduled to be open for the Memorial Day weekend:
* Paradise Inn - Opened Wednesday, May 21
* National Park Inn at Longmire - Open year-round
* Stevens Canyon Road - Friday, May 23 @ 8:00 a.m.
* Cougar Rock Campground - Friday, May 23 @ Noon (only Loops B, D, E, roadside and group sites will open on this date. Loops A & C will open at a later date.
* Ohanapecosh Campground - Friday, May 23 @ Noon
* White River Road to White River Entrance - Friday, May 23 @ 8:00 a.m.
* Box Canyon Picnic Area & Restrooms - Friday, May 23
* Wilderness Information Centers at Longmire and White River - Friday, May 23
For lodging reservations at Paradise Inn and the National Park Inn go to www.mtrainierguestservices.com or call 360-569-2275.
In addition to the above openings, the Washington State Department of Transportation advises that State Route 410 east over Chinook Pass is scheduled to open to the public at noon on Friday, May 23.
For updates on current conditions check the park's webpage, or join the Mount Rainier community on Facebook, find out breaking news and road status updates through Mount Rainier's Twitter feed, explore the park and behind-the-scenes operations with park videos on YouTube, and share your own photos of Mount Rainier with other visitors in the Mount Rainier Flickr group.
Recorded park information is also available by calling 360-569-2211.
Note: The Nisqually to Paradise Road Rehabilitation Project is underway, repairing 17.6 miles of road between the Nisqually Entrance and the developed area at Paradise. The project will take place in two phases, each taking up to two years. Phase 1 includes the installation of in-road buried conduits and junction vaults, as well as improvements to the road's substructure and drainage between the Nisqually Entrance and Longmire. This will also include paving and substructure work on Ricksecker Point Loop and Paradise Valley Road. Phase 2 should begin in 2016 at Longmire and end at Paradise in 2017.
This project is addressing deteriorating road conditions that are due to many factors, including abundant precipitation, structural and design deficiencies, large traffic volumes, and normal wear. The road work is designed to protect adjacent natural and cultural resources, will replace culverts to improve aquatic conditions, and will preserve the character of the National Historic Landmark District.
Park visitors may encounter traffic delays of up to 30-minutes in the construction areas throughout summer. Motorcyclists and bicyclists should be aware that road conditions between Nisqually Entrance and Longmire will be hazardous, with numerous unpaved sections, loose gravel and mud, uneven road elevations and patches throughout the roadway. Cyclists should plan extra time into their rides, slow down, and pay close attention to road surfaces. All motorists should use caution when driving through construction areas.