Winter in the National Parks: Mt. Rainier

Cold enthusiasts rejoice, the national parks are open all season

Mt. Rainier National Park.     Photo: Jerry Sanchez/Shutterstock

Entrance Fee

$15 per vehicle, $5 per biker/hiker

FOUNDED: 1899
SIZE: 235,625 acres

Centered around its namesake, Mt. Rainier stands at a beautiful 14,410 feet and is the tallest mountain in the Cascades range; it's also an active volcano—it last erupted 150 years ago. Rainier is also the most glaciated peak in the continental U.S.

HOW TO GET THERE
The best option coming from outside Washington is to fly into Seattle and take the scenic two-hour drive to the park. It’s not easy to get lost; just keep the mountain in front of you.

WHERE TO STAY
There are no open campgrounds in the park during the winter season, but the National Park Inn remains open. If that’s full, you can find plenty of accommodation outside of the park. We suggest the beautiful Alta Crystal Resort. If you really want to rough it, you can camp in the backcountry snow as long as the drifts reach up to five feet. Check the park's Twitter feed for more information before your visit.

WHAT TO DO
Rainier is a winter wonderland. The Paradise area is open for sledding and skiing with your family and the park is open to snowshoers and crosscountry skiers as long as you have a backcountry permit. Winter can be busy at this park so plan to share the scenery with other visitors. Winter climbing of Mt. Rainier is also popular, but individuals must obtain permits and pay climbing fees.

THINGS TO REMEMBER
⇢ The weather in the area changed frequently and sudden snowstorms present huge dangers to those exposed. Storms can cause road closures.
⇢ Make sure to pack heavy cold-weather gear.
⇢ Tire chains are required for all visits during the winter months.

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