Editor’s Note: Posted on July 4, 2020.
Visitors traveling to Mount Rainier National Park during the coming weekend should be prepared for a wide range of weather and trail conditions. “While it may be warm and sunny where visitors are traveling from, they should come prepared for snow-covered routes and icy trails at high-elevation locations like Paradise and Sunrise” stated Ben Welch, Chief of Visitor and Resource Protection at Mount Rainier National Park.
After a long winter buried in snow, Sunrise reopened to park visitors this morning. The Sunrise area soars high at 6400 feet in elevation, and park staff members have been plowing roads, clearing winter rockfall and repairing infrastructure in preparation for the short summer season.
Visitors should come fully prepared for winter conditions at both Paradise and Sunrise. It is easy to underestimate the risks and hazards at higher elevations on the mountain. Over five feet of snow obscures trails; this snow layer hides hazards such as snow-covered streams and snow moats, which form around trees, rocks and logs. To help ensure a safe visit, the park recommends that visitors be aware of the following:
- Plan to be self-suﬃcient when traveling in the backcountry as the park does not mark hazards, stabilize avalanche slopes, or designate safe routes.
- Always leave word with someone on the specifics of where you’re going and when you expect to be home. It is always safest to not travel alone.
- Choose to turn around instead of crossing steep, snow–covered slopes or fast flowing streams. A fall could be disastrous.
- Always carry survival gear with you, including the 10 Essentials, extra clothing, and food in case you have to spend the night out.
- Mountain weather changes rapidly. A pleasant outing can quickly transform into a survival ordeal. Navigation in whiteout or harsh winter conditions can be extremely diﬃcult. It is safer to stay put and wait for better weather than to continue and risk becoming lost.
Visitors looking for snow-free hikes should consider the Longmire, Ohanapecosh, or Carbon River areas. Visitors can access the latest trail conditions here. Visit the July 2020 Hiking Safety webpage for additional information on how to prepare for a hike.
While some park facilities remain closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all restrooms are open, and the National Park Inn at Longmire offers a gift shop, grab and go food service, and lodging. There are no food service options at Paradise; please prepare to pack in food and properly dispose of all trash. Visitors are encouraged to bring face coverings and hand sanitizer, and to maintain a distance of six feet from other groups. For more information on planning a safe trip, access the COVID-19 Visitor Guide for Healthy Access site.
For updates on the park’s operational status visit @MountRainierNPS on Twitter (account not required). Check the park web cameras to view current conditions. To see photos and video of conditions at Paradise on July 1, 2020, visit this photo album on the Mount Rainier National Park Flickr page.