Spotlight: Snow Play at Mt. Rainier National Park
A winter getaway in the shadow of Washington’s tallest volcanic peak
What You’ll Find
Plan your getaway and try out different types of winter recreation activities at the highest mountain in Washington and the Cascade Range at an elevation of 14,410 feet (4,279 m). With abundant snowfall, Mount Rainier National Park is transformed into a wonderland for winter recreation including sledding, sliding, ranger-guided snowshoe walks, snowmobiling, winter camping, skiing and snowboarding.
The park is located in west-central Washington and is about 200 miles (321.8 km) from Seattle, Tacoma and Yakima. The southwest and northwest entrances are open year-round; the three east entrances are typically closed in the winter. Visit the park’s website for detailed directions and maps.
Nestle in the warmth of the National Park Inn at Longmire located within park boundaries. There are many more accommodations just outside the park, including lodges, inns, spas, cabins and rustic retreats. For other accommodations, check Washington’s tourism website.
Camping on the snow is allowed most anywhere in the park for groups up to 12 people. Groups of 12 or more may camp at Paradise only. Read carefully, the park’s guidelines for winter group camping in the Paradise area (PDF) before embarking on your wintery adventure.
Thinking about backcountry camping this winter? Those who venture into the backcountry are required to obtain a permit at the Longmire Information Center. Use this winter camping brochure (PDF) to start planning your trip.
Make Sure You
Follow the park’s winter safety advice. Be aware of quickly changing weather conditions and come prepared with gear, clothing, food and water appropriate for the conditions. Read our articles about Quickly Changing Weather and avalanche safety tips to get you started.
Some areas of the park, including Sunrise, White River, Ohanapecosh, State Routes 410 and 123 and the Stevens Canyon Road close in mid-October or early November until summertime. Check out current conditions using the park webcams, road status and get information updates and alerts on the park website.
Did You Know?
Mount Rainier is an active stratovolcano, characterized by gentle slopes that rise up to a dramatic and steep summit. The mountain last erupted in 1890 and continues to produce seismic activity consistent with an active volcano. Read our spotlight article about Mount St. Helens for a look at another Cascade Range volcano in Washington.