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Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

March 21, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Spring has sprung, so they’re digging out at Mount Rainier

With the first day of spring — which was yesterday —  Mount Rainier National Park starts to awaken from winter, so to speak, just like its hibernating bears that have presumably been holed up for the winter in cozy dens (though in reality they’re probably drafty, drippy piles of fallen logs that reek of wet bear and moldy leaves, when you think about it).

Dream of summer: Here's a summertime view of hikers on a trail at Mount Rainier National Park. For now, much of the park is snowbound, but work is underway to open for the season.

Dream of summer: Here’s a summertime view of hikers on a trail at Mount Rainier National Park. For now, much of the park is snowbound, but work is underway to open for the season.

What’s it mean to us? From now on, the road to Paradise will open daily, continuing through the summer season, instead of closing Tuesdays and Wednesdays (to name one thing). And keep reading, for a complete calendar of opening dates and a whole shebang of information sources on the park.

Other changes and openings start to take effect in coming weeks, though most of the park is still covered in deep snow.  Paradise currently has 167 inches — almost 14 feet — of snow on the ground.

“Although it may be late June, mid-July, or even early August before the last remnants of snow finally leave the slopes of ‘The Mountain’,” according to a Wednesday announcement from park officials, park and concessions personnel are beginning the annual ritual of opening buildings; bringing utility systems back into operation after the winter closure; removing snow in and around buildings for access; opening park roads; and hiring of seasonal staff. Park spokeswoman Donna Rahier likened the process to “bringing small, isolated villages back to life each year.”

Park officials confirmed that Ohanapecosh Visitor Center, in the park’s southeast corner, will not open this year. The visitor center was widely expected to be a victim of sequestration budget cuts.

Here’s a summary of the park’s projected opening dates for 2013.  All dates are subject to change depending on conditions.


  • Tuesday/Wednesday closure of the road above Longmire ended March 20.  The gate at Longmire will continue to close nightly through April 15.  The Paradise snow-play area will close March 31 and guided snowshoe walks end for the season.


  • April 5 – Westside Road open to Dry Creek
  • April 15 – nightly gate closure at Longmire ends
  • Snow removal underway on Stevens Canyon, Cayuse and Chinook Passes


  • May 6 – Jackson Visitor Center opens daily.
  • May 22 – Paradise Inn opens for season
  • May 24 – Openings of Stevens Canyon Road, Cougar Rock picnic area, Wilderness Information Centers at Longmire and White river, Ohanapecosh Campground, Box Canyon Overlook and restrooms, White River road to campground and parking lot


  • June 27 – Cougar Rock Campground opens
  • June 28 – White River Campground and Sunrise Road open
  • Snow removal continues – White River/Sunrise Roads


  • July 3 – Sunrise Visitor Center and Day Lodge open
  • July 4 – Mowich Lake Road opens

 2013 fee-free days remaining

  • April 22-26 — National Park Week
  • Aug. 25 – National Park Service’s 97th birthday
  • Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day
  • Nov. 9-11 – Veterans Day weekend

 Accommodations / More information

National Park Inn at Longmire is open year-round offering guest rooms, dining and gifts as well as a moderate supply of groceries.  Paradise Inn is open daily beginning May 22 through Oct. 7 and also offers lodging, dining and gifts.  Both inns are on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.  For reservations call 360-569-2275 or see www.mtrainierguestservices.com

For information on other accommodations outside the park, see these websites:
www.visitrainier.com, www.mt-rainier.com, www.staycrystal.com,
www.destinationpackwood.com, www.minerallake.com

Planning a visit to the park? Check for current weather and road conditions.  Recorded information is available by calling 360-569-2211. Online, see www.nps.gov/mora or visit the park’s social media pages at:


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