If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas (and have chains and traction tires), you can make your dreams come true at Mount Rainier National Park.
The snowplay area at Paradise will open Friday (Dec. 23), now that there’s sufficient snowpack.
The snowplay area is the only place in the national park where sledding is allowed.
A minimum of 5 feet of snow is required for the snowplay area to open so that the grooming equipment does not damage the plants growing there, according to a news release.
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Two winters ago, Paradise never got enough snow to open the snowplay area. Last winter, it didn’t open until Jan. 2.
The gate to Paradise opens each morning once National Park Service staff determine the road is passable, usually at 9 a.m.
The snowplay area closes at 4 p.m., allowing park staff to close the road by 5 p.m.
The Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center is open daily through Jan. 2 from 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. After that, it is open weekends for the same hours, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents Day.
Ranger-guided snowshoe walks begin Friday and are offered whenever the visitor center is open, at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., lasting two hours each.
Sign-ups are first-come, first-served starting an hour before each time at the visitor center.
Snowshoers are asked to wear waterproof footwear, warm hats, gloves and plenty of layers. Sunscreen, sunglasses and water are strongly recommended.
Snowplay area rules
▪ The area at Paradise is the only place in the park where visitors can go sledding.
▪ Only “soft” sledding devices can be used, including flexible sleds, inner tubes and saucers. No hard toboggans or runner sleds are allowed.
▪ The snowplay area is open weekends and holidays, as conditions allow.