Recent storms brought the snow depth at Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park to 112 inches, enough to open the recreation area’s snow play runs.
Along with the opening Jan. 18, the park’s road crew finished clearing more than three feet of snow from roads, parking lots and around the buildings at Paradise.
Road conditions are available through the park’s Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/mountrainiernps. In addition, conditions at Paradise, Longmire, and Carbon River can be viewed on the park webcams at http://www.nps.gov/mora/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.
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, park officials noted. Until May 1, all vehicles are required to carry tire chains. Traction tires or chains may be required on any type of vehicle, at any time, officials said.
The Longmire to Paradise road hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, under ideal conditions. The road may close early or remain closed an entire day due to avalanche danger, severe weather, or from a shortage of manpower to maintain safe access, a parkk spokeswoman said. Visitors must leave Paradise by 4:30 p.m. to clear the Longmire gate by its 5 o’clock closure. The uphill gate at Longmire closes at 4.
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.
Park rangers advise that recreationists should be prepared for emergencies or bad conditions by carrying the “Winter 10 Essentials:”
• A shovel for avalanche rescues.
• Full-length insulated sleeping pad.
• Stove and fuel to melt snow for water.
• Heat packs.
• Goggles and a wool or pile hat.
• Gloves (waterproofed/lined).
• Avalanche Transceiver.
• Avalanche probe.
• Reliable weather and avalanche forecasts.
• Map, compass and GPS (with extra batteries).
Other safety advice from the park: 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, as weather can change suddenly in extreme ways. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety.
Winter travel, safety, and recreation information is available at http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/winter.htm.