Mount Rainier National Park no longer is accepting requests for Wonderland Trail backpacking permits after receiving a record number of applications, park officials announced Wednesday.
The park received nearly 5,900 requests during its normal March 15-31 application period. Of those, about 44 percent were for hiking the entire 93-mile Wonderland Trail loop around the mountain.
All requests received before March 31 are considered in random order and get first crack at backcountry campsites. Requests filed after March 31 are considered in the order they are received.
The number of requests more than doubles the old record of 2,700 set in 2015. Requests were not available in 2016 because the reservation system was damaged.
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This year marks the debut of a new online system. In the past, backpackers had to fax or mail in their requests.
“The doubling of requests in 2017 is a testament to an immediately improved process for our visitors this year,” park Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout said in a prepared statement.
The number of request exceeds capacity. Backpackers will learn in the coming weeks if their requests were approved.
For those who don’t get permits or missed the application window, there is one last option for scoring a Wonderland permit.
The park holds about 30 percent of backcountry space for first-come, first-served permits. These permits can be obtained no more than one day in advance of the trip.
The walk-up permits can be obtained at the Longmire, White River or Carbon River ranger stations.