The annual early spring effort has begun to open areas and facilities at Mount Rainier National Park.
Park managers are expecting earlier access to some park roads because of the exceptionally low snowpack this winter. Those efforts, however, will depend on how much the weather cooperates before summer. The Paradise area received more than a foot of snow last week.
Superintendent Randy King notes while some areas will be opening sooner than normal, visitor services and facilities may be limited until summer staffing is on board and facilities are dewinterized.
In the schedule of anticipated openings released last week, there is some good news for park visitors. The campgrounds at Cougar Rock and Ohanpecosh will open almost a week early.
The west end of Stevens Canyon Road will open May 1, well before the traditional Memorial Day weekend opening. But access to the full road will be delayed until a large slide can be cleared and repairs made to the road. The park is seeking bids to clear the slide, which occurred in January near Backbone Ridge. King said the goal is to have the complete road open by Memorial Day weekend.
Drivers along the busy road from the Nisqually entrance to Paradise will have to contend with minor delays again this year. This will be the second of a multi-year road and utility construction project. The work will take place from mid-May through late July, with more taking place after Oct. 1. King said delays will be limited to no more than 30 minutes, but drivers should expect some rough road conditions.
Despite fresh snow at higher elevations, the staff at Mount Rainier National Park is prepping for the busy summer season a little earlier than normal. That includes the recruitment of volunteers.
Because of the lack of snow this past winter, park managers are anticipating a lot of activities will resume earlier than usual. From the volunteer standpoint, that means early-season help will be needed with spring opening trail projects, rover patrols and so on.
If you have participated in any projects before, you are asked to contact your former supervisor to see what’s on the agenda. If you’d like to become involved in volunteer activities, send an email to Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov. Bacher is the park’s volunteer and outreach coordinator. You should specify what your areas of interest are, and include your name, address, email address, phone number and dates of availability.