"Mount Rainier" by NPS/Emily Brouwer Photo , public domain
Mount Rainier Guide
Spring Visitor Guide for Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Mount Rainier National Park | May - June 2022 Mount Rainier National Park Tahoma Visitor Guide Since time immemorial this place has been the homeland of the Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island, and Yakama people who remain dedicated caretakers of the land. We honor each nation’s traditions of stewardship in our endeavors to care for the features and values of the mountain. Kevin Bacher photo Welcome to Spring at Mount Rainier! Spring comes slowly to the mountain. The sound of falling water marks the warmer days, although snow flurries in May and June may have you questioning the season. Yet in time, spring does arrive. You will see signs of spring while traveling through the park. Make time to let Mother Nature entertain you and you will be richly rewarded. For example, this is perhaps the best time of year to view waterfalls as they brim with water fed by melting snow. Green leaves burst from their buds, mushrooms carpet the forest floor, and birds arrive back at the mountain. Don’t overlook the forest wildflowers that bloom much earlier than their subalpine counterparts. They grace us with their presence for only a few short weeks. Spring is a time of new birth. You may find wildlife with their young offspring in tow around the Trail of the Shadows at Longmire. Geese and goslings glide quietly on beaver ponds and black-tailed deer browse the meadow with their spotted fawns, while the chorus of frogs and songbirds fill the air. Roads Closed Roads may still be closed while crews work to reopen them for the summer season. In spring, crews clear trails of debris, repair trail bridges, and plow roads closed for winter while buildings are prepared to welcome visitors for the summer season. This year, opening of some roads or areas closed in winter may take longer than past years due to staffing levels and equipment issues. We ask for your patience and encourage you to explore those areas that are open during your visit. Grove of the Patriarchs Closed for the season due to flood damage to the suspension bridge. Whether you are visiting for a few hours or the entire day, there is plenty to do. Take a hike, enjoy the views, hunt for elusive forest wildflowers at lower elevations, or enjoy the snowy landscape at Paradise. At higher elevations, expect snow-covered trails well into June. These areas receive many feet of snow during the winter that will linger well into spring. For snow-free hiking in June, consider the Longmire and Ohanapecosh areas. Download the NPS App to learn about trails, visitor centers, campgrounds, directions, fees and passes, trails, and much more. Search “National Park Service” in the iOS App Store and Google Play Store to download the app. Download the app when you are in an area with cell service, such as Paradise, as it is limited inside the park. Stevens Canyon Road Closed until May 27 then closed Mon-Thurs due to construction. Open with up to 30 minute delays Fri-Sun. Subject to change. Check for updated information at nps.gov/mora. BE FORE STE PPI NG O F F THE TRAI L... ... consider this: each step into a meadow crushes an average of 17 plants! When exploring Mount Rainier’s fragile meadows, hike only on maintained trails or thick patches of snow. No Pets on Trails Leashed pets are permitted only in parking lots and along roads open to public vehicles. No Drone Zone! Drones are not allowed anywhere in Mount Rainier National Park. This includes launching, landing, and operating drones. Mask Requirements Mask requirements are based on county COVID case levels. Check bulletin boards and signs for status. Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Greg Dudgeon Park Headquarters (360) 569-2211 Lost and Found MORA_Lost@nps.gov Connect Online www.nps.gov/mora @MountRainierNPS Road status updates on Twitter Spray Park Avalanche Lilies Mount Rainier National Park was established in 1899 to preserve natural and cultural resources and to provide for public benefit and enjoyment. The following information will help you protect yourself and your park. Climbing Wilderness Camping Mount Rainier National Park offers outstanding wilderness hiking and camping opportunities. Permits and backcountry information are available at all wilderness information centers and most visitor centers. Plan Ahead • • • • Each year, approximately 10,000 people attempt to climb Mount Rainier. Nearly half reach the 14,410-foot summit. Climbing permits are required for travel above 10,000 feet and/or on glaciers. Climbing information–including fees, routes, and conditions–is available on the park website and at wilderness information centers at Longmire, White River, and Paradise. See page 4 for hours. Pay your annual climbing fee through pay.gov; keep your receipt and print or save it on your phone to serve as proof of payment; and bring a picture ID. Guided climbs and seminars are available through: Alpine Ascents International (206) 378-1927 International Mountain Guides (360) 569-2609 Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (888) 892-5462 Camping Camping is only allowed at the three designated front-country campgrounds, or by getting a permit at the ranger station for backcountry camping. Sleeping in vehicles outside of campgrounds is not permitted. Fires in the Park Make fires only in established fire grills. Collecting firewood is prohibited. A permit is required year-round for all overnight stays in the backcountry. A wilderness permit allows the permit holder and their group to camp in a designated camp or area. Permits must be obtained in person at a wilderness information center or visitor center. Advance reservations are available for peak season (June-September) on Recreation.gov. Reservations for both climbing and wilderness camping are encouraged but not required. Approximately two thirds of summer season (June-September) backpacking and climbing permits are made available for advance reservation. Reservations must be made at least two days in advance of the trip start. The remaining one third of permits are issued at park wilderness information centers on a first-come, first-served basis and can be requested a maximum of one day before your trip start date. Mount Rainier: An Active Volcano Active steam vents, periodic earth tremors, and historic eruptions provide evidence that Mount Rainier is sleeping, not dead. Seismic monitoring stations around the mountain should provide days or weeks of advance warning of impending eruptions. Other geologic hazards, however, can occur with little warning. These include debris flows and rockfalls. Marijuana is Illegal While limited recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Washington State, possession of any amount of marijuana or other illegal drugs remains illegal in Mount Rainier National Park, surrounding national forests, and all federal lands. Mercury in Park Lakes Research studies have shown mercury is present in some trout in a few park lakes. Check the Washington Department of Health website http://www.doh.wa.gov/ for information on fish consumption. Tree Hazards Keep a lookout for dead, diseased, or leaning trees that could fall or drop branches. Avoid stopping or picnicking near these hazardous trees. On windy days be especially careful, strong winds and gusts can do great damage even to healthy trees—as well as anything in range of falling debris. If you are near a river and notice a rapid rise in water level, feel a prolonged shaking of the ground, and/or hear a roaring sound coming from upvalley––often described as the sound made by a fast–moving freight train––move quickly to higher ground––200 feet above river level should be safe. • • Protect yourself by wearing appropriate outdoor clothing including footwear. Be prepared for rapidly changing weather. Carry the ten essentials even on a short sightseeing hike. Always tell someone of your travel plans so they can notify the park if you fail to return. Do not travel alone. If visibility is poor, do not travel at all. Most importantly, plan your route ahead of time and have a backup plan. Become A Mount Rainier Steward Turn your passion for Mount Rainier into action that will benefit visitors today and tomorrow! Consider joining our team as a park volunteer. Your contribution of time and energy will protect the magnificent natural and cultural areas entrusted to us, and you’ll go home with a sense of pride at having participated in something worthwhile. Volunteer in the park for a day, a summer, or on weekends as your schedule permits. Learn more at www.nps.gov/mora/getinvolved/volunteer.htm. Washington’s National Park Fund (WNPF) makes it easy for people who love Mount Rainier National Park to give back to this special place. WNPF is the only partner providing philanthropic support exclusively to Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic national parks. Your support helps fund priority projects that advance science and research, improve visitors’ experiences, expand volunteerism and stewardship, and provide for youth and family programs. Here at Mount Rainier, WNPF provides support for over 2,000 volunteers, whose efforts are valued at $1.8 million! There are lots of ways to give. Whether you purchase a Washington National Parks license plate for your vehicle, participate in a WNPF event, include WNPF in your estate plans, or give monthly, it all adds up and makes a difference. Learn more by visiting WNPF’s website at WNPF.org, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or following them on social media @WANatlParkFund. Detailed information is available at park visitor centers or from scientists at the U.S.G.S. Cascades Volcano Observatory, vulcan.wr.usgs.gov. Park Partners Washington’s National Park Fund wnpf.org Mount Rainier National Park Volunteers www.nps.gov/ mora/getinvolved/ volunteer.htm Washington Trails Association www.wta.org Discover Your Northwest www.discovernw.org 2 | Mount Rainier National Park | Tahoma Visitor Guide | May-June 2022 Visit Rainier visitrainier.com Mount Rainier National Park Associates www.mrnpa.org Mount Rainier Institute www.packforest.org/ mtrainierinstitute/ JD Hascup photo Visiting Your Park Know Before You Go Carbon River Suspension Bridge Hazards of the Season Are you prepared for challenges encountered by changing conditions and the late season snowpack? I Pledge to: Route-Finding Challenges Trails may be snow-free at lower elevations but anticipate and prepare for snow at higher elevations. Conditions change rapidly during the day and footprints in the snow quickly disappear. This results in many lost individuals, injuries, and fatalities. When route-finding, note important landmarks. If the trail becomes difficult to follow, stop and find where you are on the map before continuing. Be Prepared If at any point you feel uncomfortable or unprepared, turn around. If you plan on retracing your route back to the trailhead consider using wands on snow-covered trails. Always carry a good map and compass, and actively use them on snowcovered trails. Also consider supplementing your map and compass with an external antenna GPS for best coverage beneath a forest canopy. Consider the steep snow slopes, melt holes, thinning snow bridges, and other early season hazards that you may encounter, and be honest with yourself in assessing your skills and experience. Watch for streams flowing underneath snow. In the event of an emergency a personal locator beacon could save your life. However, the SOS function should only be used when there’s an immediate threat to life or limb with no means available for self-rescue. Snow Avalanches are Common in Spring The greatest danger is an avalanche that you trigger by skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or climbing. Carry a transceiver, probe, and shovel and know how to use them. Download a navigation app for use while out of cell phone coverage. Determine if the location you are traveling is avalanche prone. If in doubt, ask questions or don’t go. Unstable snow may slide at any time–not just in winter! Even small avalanches can be deadly. Mountain Weather Changes Rapidly A pleasant outing can quickly transform into a survival ordeal. If you’re ascending and clouds or fog start rolling in, turn around and head back to the trailhead. If that’s not possible, stop, dig in, and wait for better weather. Proper gear (adequate boots, ice axe, the ten essentials, etc.) is a must. Cross Streams Safely Many hikers underestimate the power of moving water. Use these pointers in making wise decisions when crossing streams. • Early morning when river levels are generally at their lowest is the best time to cross. • Look for an area with a smooth bottom and slow moving water below knee height. • Before crossing, scout downstream for log jams, waterfalls and other hazards that could trap you. Locate a point where you can exit if you fall in. • Use a sturdy stick to maintain two points of contact with the ground at all times. • Unfasten the belt of your pack so you can easily discard it if necessary. • Staring down at moving water can make you dizzy. Look forward as much as possible. “Protect Mount Rainier’s meadows and lakes by staying on trails while hiking in meadows and around lakes. One step onto a meadow damages an average of 17 plants that will take years to recover! Never take my pets on trails or meadows. Pets are not permitted on trails. They are only permitted in campgrounds, parking lots, and on roads open for travel and must be on leashes no longer than six feet. You can help safeguard this place, and these resources and intrinsic values by taking the Mount Rainier Pledge. Respect the land and all that is connected to it as the original stewards of this land did and their descendants continue to do today. Mount Rainier National Park was created to protect and preserve unimpaired iconic Mount Rainier, along with its natural and cultural resources, values, and dynamic processes. Welcome all people I encounter during my visit regardless of their identities or abilities. The park provides opportunities for people to experience, understand, and care for the park environment, and provides for wilderness experiences while sustaining wilderness values. Be a Mount Rainier Champion by learning more about park resources and supporting park efforts by sharing #RainierPledge https://www.nps.gov/mora/ planyourvisit/mount-rainier-pledge. Leave No Trace of my visit. Planning ahead and being prepared, disposing of waste properly, and leaving what you find, are just a few ways you can Leave No Trace. Keep Wildlife Wild by not feeding or approaching animals. Feeding wildlife can be as direct as offering a bit of your lunch, or as indirect as leaving your food or garbage for animals to find. Stay safe during my visit by keeping safety in mind. Watch for changes in weather and conditions. Know your limits when exploring Mount Rainier’s trails and backcountry.” Classic Backcountry Practices Leave No Trace • • • • • • • Plan ahead & prepare Travel & camp on durable surfaces Dispose of waste properly Leave what you find Minimize campfire impacts* Respect wildlife Be considerate of others *Fires are for emergency use only; they are not allowed in Mount Rainier’s Wilderness Carry the 10 Essentials and know how to use them! 1. Map and compass 2. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and hat 3. Extra clothing (warm!) and rain gear 4. Flashlight or head lamp (extra batteries) 5. First aid supplies 6. Waterproof matches or lighter 7. Repair kit and tools (for gear) 8. Extra food 9. Extra water 10. Emergency shelter Mount Rainier National Park | Tahoma Visitor Guide | May-June 2022 | 3 Information, Facilities, and Services In An Emergency Dial 9-1-1 from any phone located in the park. BE AWARE Facility status may change. Longmire Museum (360) 569-6575 The building is closed, but rangers are available to provide information. Longmire Wilderness Information Center (360) 569-6650 Wilderness camping & climbing permits, general information Opens May 27 National Park Inn at Longmire Open year-round Lodging, dining room Open Longmire General Store Open year-round Food, gifts, books, apparel Open Paradise Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center Information, publications Lower level to open May 27 Paradise Jackson Visitor Center Snack Bar & Gift Shop Food service and limited gift service. Opens May 7 Paradise Wilderness Information Center (Guide House) White River Wilderness Information Center (360) 569-6670 Information, wilderness camping and climbing permits Opens May 27 Sunrise Visitor Center Exhibits, information Opens July 8 Sunrise Day Lodge Snack Bar & Gift Shop Food and gifts. Day use only, no overnight lodging Open June 30 - September 11 (360) 569-6641 Opens May 30 Carbon River Ranger Station (360) 829-9639 Paradise Inn Lodging, dining room, cafe, gift shop Open May 21 - October 3 Ohanapecosh Visitor Center Ranger station open. Carbon River entrance area closed to vehicles just outside the park boundary due to a road washout. Keep Wildlife Wild Human food puts animals at risk and some die as a result. Birds like jays or ravens are effective nest predators––eating the eggs or young of other birds. By feeding birds, visitors concentrate these nest predators near roads and trails and inadvertently contribute to the death of songbirds in the same area. • • Please do not feed the wildlife. Store your food in an animal-proof container, or inside your car. Do not leave food, beverages, pet food, or toiletries unattended for any length of time. Clean up picnic areas after you eat. • • Please drive carefully and watch for wildlife. Exhibits, information, books Projected to open May 28 Road Opening Schedule Food & Lodging Inside Mount Rainier National Park Estimated Dates (subject to change) For in-park lodging reservations, contact Rainier Guest Services (360) 569-2275 mtrainierguestservices.com. Nisqually to Paradise Open Westside Road to Dry Creek May 20 Services Outside Mount Rainier National Park Paradise Valley Road July 1 **Stevens Canyon Road Closed Mon-Thurs due to construction. Open with up to 30 minute delays Fri-Sun. May 27 Gas, lodging, dining, recreation equipment rentals, and other services are available in local communities. Cellular service is not available in most of the park. Help preserve opportunities for solitude, especially at busy locations. Try turning off your cell phone, or speaking quietly so as not to disturb others. Gas is not available inside the park. Gas stations are located in local communities. Electric vehicle charging is not available inside the park. State Route 410/Chinook Pass Cayuse Pass via SRs 410 & 123 White River Road to White River Campground Parking Lot Sunrise Road May 27 May 27 May 27 July 1 Please use caution while driving. Drive-in Campgrounds Open/Close dates subject to change. Campground Open Dates Elev. Sites Group Sites Toilets Dump Station Maximum RV/Trailer Length Cougar Rock* May 28 - Oct. 9 3,180’ 175 5 Flush CLOSED RV 35’/Trailer 27’ Ohanapecosh* May 28 - Oct. 9 1,914’ 138 2 Flush No RV 32’/Trailer 27’ White River June 24 - Sept. 25 4,232’ 88 0 Flush No RV 27’/Trailer 18’ Mowich Lake Primitive walk-in campground, tents only. 10 sites. No fee (must self-register at campground kiosk). Vault toilets, no potable water. No fires allowed. Elevation 4,929’; generally open July through early October, depending on road and weather conditions. Call 360-829-9639 for information. *Advance reservations are recommended for individual sites at Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh Campgrounds from June 17 through the night of September 4. These can be made up to six months in advance. Reservations for group sites are recommended and are available throughout the season. These can be made up to one year in advance. To make a reservation online, go to www.recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777. 4 | Mount Rainier National Park | Tahoma Visitor Guide | May-June 2022