May 3, 2023 - Things to Do

You could soon need a reservation for Mount Rainier

People on a trail hiking toward a distant mountain

Hikers on the Skyline Trail near Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park. Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Ever been up to Mount Rainier in the summer only to find it clogged with humans and cars and found yourself getting irritated instead of uplifted? The National Park Service is aware of this and looking for a way to stagger the flow.

Driving the news: Mount Rainier National Park is seeking public feedback on a plan to implement a timed-entry reservation system during peak season.

  • Feedback the park received from the public a few years ago was focused on complaints related to traffic congestion, parking shortages and crowding.
  • Park superintendent Greg Dudgeon said in a written statement those concerns are, "exactly what we are hoping to address with a timed-entry reservation system."

By the numbers: Visits to Mount Rainier have been going up every year, according to the park, climbing from 1.1 million visits per year to above 1.7 million visits from 2008 to 2021.

  • Seventy percent of those visits occur between July and September and many of them are concentrated at a small number of destinations, including the Paradise and Sunrise areas.
  • Wait times of more than an hour to enter the park through the Nisqually and White River entrances are common, causing congestion both inside and outside of the park.

Details: In addition to timed-entry reservations, the park is also considering using parking permit systems, alternative transportation options and improved signage.

What's next: A final decision on the draft plan will be made later this year, with potential implementation of the plan proposed in summer 2024, NPS said.


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