Warm sunny days, mild temperatures and cool nights are characteristic of the fall landscape at Mount Rainier, and as the colors turn, staff are beginning the annual winterization of seasonal areas (Sunrise, White River, Ohanapecosh, Box Canyon) before the winter snows begin. With the upcoming Columbus Day holiday on Oct. 8, that process is getting under way.
State Routes 123 and 410 remain open and provide great opportunities for visitors to see the fall colors. While the Stevens Canyon Road is closed to through traffic for construction work, visitors can still access Backbone Ridge, Box Canyon, and adjacent trailheads via the East Entrance near State Route 123. Wonderland Trail hikers as well as day hikers will be permitted to hike through the construction zone to access adjacent trails. On the Paradise side, the road is closed from just west of the intersection with the Paradise Valley Road to the east end of the tunnel at Box Canyon.
Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh campgrounds will be open through Monday, Oct. 8. White River Campground is closed. The Ohanapecosh Visitor Center, Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center, and Longmire and White River Wilderness Information Centers will also remain open through that date. The road to Sunrise will remain open through that date, then close to vehicle traffic at the White River Campground gate. Bicyclists and hikers will be allowed to continue to use the road unless otherwise posted. All facilities except for a vault toilet at Sunrise will be closed.
At Paradise, the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center, Paradise Camp Deli and Gift Shop will transition to their winter schedule, opening on weekends and holidays only after Oct. 8. Visitor Center hours will be 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The historic Paradise Inn closed for the season on Oct. 1.
The National Park Inn and General Store and the Longmire Museum are open daily throughout the year, providing overnight accommodations, dining, gifts, and visitor information. A great weekday or weekend getaway to enjoy some quiet time. To make reservations at the National Park Inn call 360-569-2275, or go online to www.mtrainierguestservices.com.
Most businesses in the gateway communities surrounding the park do remain open throughout the fall and winter offering a variety of services and activities for the public to enjoy. For online information on visitor services, accommodations and activities in these communities visit the following websites: www.visitrainier.com, www.mt-rainier.com, www.staycrystal.com, www.destinationpackwood.com, www.minerallake.com.
Even though current conditions are exceptionally mild, park visitors are reminded that weather conditions can change rapidly in the mountains during this time of the year. Be prepared for inclement weather or possible ice and snow on park roads.
Effective Nov. 1, all vehicles (including 4-wheel and all-wheel-drive) are required to carry tire chains that fit your vehicle while in the park.
For additional information, check the Mount Rainier web page at www.nps.gov/mora or call 360-569-2211.
You can connect to Mount Rainier National Park through our social media pages. Join the Mount Rainier community on Facebook, find out breaking news and road status updates through Mount Rainier's Twitter feed, explore the park and behind-the-scenes operations with our videos on YouTube, and share your own photos of Mount Rainier with other visitors in the Mount Rainier Flickr group.
Editor's Note: Information provided by Mount Rainier National Park.