Best Times to Visit Mount Rainier National Park
The best time to visit Mount Rainier National Park is July through August, when wildflowers transform the park's subalpine meadows and the dry, warm weather provides optimal hiking conditions. If you want to see the mountainous landscape blanketed in snow, you'll be treated to a winter wonderland if you visit between November and March. The park is open year-round, but in the winter season (which lasts from November through May), many areas of the park are closed, including roads. The road from the Nisqually Entrance Historic District to Longmire is open year-round, but it closes during extreme weather. But there are several wintertime activities that make a visit during this season worthwhile, including ranger-led snowshoe walks. Travelers should always check the park website before visiting.
Weather in Mount Rainier National Park
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
The weather is usually glorious at this time of year, and the warmth and dryness are a boon to the many wildflowers in the park, which peak at this time. With such a limited growing season, the wildflowers burst into color in the summer, drawing visitors by the thousands every day. Of course, the temperature, ranging from the 60s to the high 70s, depending on your elevation, also makes it a pleasure to hike and explore the many trails in the park.
The changing colors of the leaves makes for a brilliant backdrop in the fall, but it can snow as early as late October, so a visit at this time takes more planning. Visitors should familiarize themselves with winter travel tips, road status and be prepared for potential winter hazards, such as hypothermia and avalanches. Cyclists love to visit at this time of year as there are usually fewer vehicles on the road.
The park often sees huge amounts of snow – in 2017, the Paradise area got 703 inches. But despite the snowfall, there is still plenty to do in the park, including ranger-led snowshoe walks, snowboarding and skiing. Plus, crowds are much more manageable during these months. There are some downsides, however. In winter, only two park entrances are open, the Nisqually Entrance, in the southwest corner of the park, and the Carbon River Entrance, in the northwest corner of the park. The Carbon River Road is closed to vehicles just inside the entrance, but is open to bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
As the weather starts to warm, visitors can enjoy the park before the summer rush begins, though where you can go and what you can do depends on the conditions. Before making any plans, check the current status of roads, campgrounds, trails and activities.
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