Locals push for Mt. Rainier National Park to return daily access to Paradise

The gate allowing visitors to access Paradise, a portion of the Mount Rainier National Park, was back open on Sunday.

For the past several weeks, the national park has struggled to allow access to the area, citing a lack of personnel – it’s a move that has caused stress to local businesses. In late November, the park made the decision to no longer attempt to keep the gate open on weekdays that allows visitors to travel from Longmire to Paradise.

According to the park, they’re still attempting to hire people, including workers that can control heavy equipment, though a parks spokesperson says they also have needs for other jobs too: including people who work on water/wastewater systems within the park.

Workers at the park say that they lost a number of staff due to COVID-19 vaccine requirements, and that the park wasn’t able to fill the positions.

Mount Rainier viewed from the Nisqually Vista Trail in Mt Rainier National Park on Tuesday, June 28 2022. Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the m

Locals have started a petition with hopes of keeping the gate open on weekdays, but so far the park does not appear to have the staff to do so.

Nick Neville, who owns Mt. Rainier Cabins, a group of five rental cabins, said that a lot of businesses rely on tourism. The area beyond Longmire is a favorite for cross-country skiers and avid fans of snowshoeing. The park itself still has plenty of activities at lower elevations, but the heavy snow closer to the summit draws in plenty of regulars.

"Spring and summer are bigger seasons, but we still need winter tourism to support the local businesses and employees that are year-round," he said. "Otherwise, those areas aren’t accessible when the majority of tourists are in the area.

That also means sledding runs at Paradise will not be open this year. Sledding is not permitted anywhere else in the park. 

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According to NPS, daily snowplowing will continue seven days a week between the Nisqually Entrance and Longmire. Snowplow operators will also attempt to plow the 12 miles of road to Paradise to a minimum level throughout the week to limit snow accumulation and make road access more attainable on the weekends. 

See NPS's FAQs on Paradise winter access here.