Enjoy Mount Rainier (traffic and all) by knowing the ropes

Jul 9th, 2019 | By | Category: Adventures

Summertime visits to Mount Rainier National Park come with the downside of the bulk of the 1 million-a-year visitors who create long wait times at the Nisqually and White River entrances and heavy road and parking lot congestion.

On weekends, the Paradise and Sunrise parking lots are filled by late morning. At Paradise, overflow parking is available at the Paradise picnic area (within walking distance to the visitor center, on the right as you approach Paradise) and along Paradise Valley Road. The road may require a long uphill walk to reach the visitor center, restrooms and trails.

When the Sunrise parking area is filled to capacity, vehicles are held at the White River entrance and then slowly metered in as other vehicles depart.

Park officials recommend using the following tips to have an enjoyable visit and avoid the worst of the congestion:

  • Visiting on weekdays, and arriving in early morning or late afternoon, can help avoid crowds, long entrance station lines and delays, and difficulty finding a place to park.
  • Have an alternate plan and destination in mind if long lines and waits are encountered entering the park. Experience the sights and activities of gateway communities during peak hours and weekends. U. S. Forest Service land and the Crystal Mountain Resort provide nearby destination alternatives.
  • Using an annual park or interagency pass, or having the correct payment in cash, can minimize time spent at the entrance station and keep the line moving. Credit card transactions take more time to process and contribute to delays. A new option is purchasing the pass online through YourPassNow.com and printing the pass before you visit.
  • Check road status for closures or other delays that may affect your travel plans.
  • Check Twitter (an account isn‘t required to view) for congestion updates. The park will be tweeting more frequent wait-time information on weekends and holidays to assist with trip planning.
  • At the Nisqually Entrance, please be mindful not to block driveways of neighboring residences and businesses along State Route 706 in Ashford on the approach to the gate. Visitors who typically enter via the park’s southwestern entrance near Ashford may also consider the southeastern entrance near Packwood as a shorter-wait alternative on busy weekends during July and August.
  • As wait times increase to enter the park each summer weekend, break up your trip by visiting the public restroom in Elbe on SR-706 at the state Department of Transportation-managed safety rest area. In addition, visitors with children can let them stretch their legs at Ashford County Park, located at 29801 SR-706 in Ashford. The 80-acre park has trails, a playground with a large play structure, infant swings, and regular swings. There is plenty of parking, and public restrooms are located next to the playground.