When can I start Skiing or Snow Shoeing 

in the Paradise Area of

Mt. Rainier National Park ?

by Ed Strauss

Snow Shoeing and Hiking

The first opportunities for snow shoeing at Paradise occur when there is more snow than you care to hike through. However you cannot go anywhere you want to until there is at least 3 feet of snow on the ground. The National Park Service Rangers are responsible for protecting the plants and trees in the Park. The regulations are different than a National Forest or private land. The public is encouraged to travel in the back country, but only if it does no damage. Hikers and snow shoers must stay on maintained trails or paved roads (that are closed) until there is at least 3 feet of snow on the ground. 

Cross Country Skiing

The first cross country skiing is on the roadways in Barn Flats and the Paradise Valley Road. Once these roads are closed (to motorized vehicles) and there is enough snow to ski, skier can ski them. When the snow depth has reached 3 feet then skiers can go where ever they want as long as they don't harm the vegetation.

Telemark Skiers and Snow Boarders

Advanced skiers and snow boarders must have patience. Mt. Rainier is not the first place that you can crank turns in the season. The Park has no groomed hill sides. The plants and trees are protected by federal regulation. It takes at least 4 feet of snow on the ground on moderate slopes and 5 feet of snow on steep slopes to protect them from damage by metal edges carving turns. 

Every year eager beaver skiers and snow boarders jeopardize public access to the back country by damaging plants and trees on slopes with insufficient snow coverage. Skier and snow boarder tracks that have plants and trees sticking up through them are obvious evidence of regulation violations and are fuel for reprisals and restrictions. Every year after the snow all melts trees and bushes that have been deformed by pruning from metal edges appear. 

Please be patient, use prudence and do not damage the environment. The National Park is a special pristine place that deserves to be respected and maintained.