Jan 19, 2024 - Things to Do

Mount Rainier will soon require reservations at peak times

Mount Rainier is shown above the colorful meadows of Paradise, framed by evergreen trees and blue sky.

Mount Rainier National Park. Photo: Marli Miller/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Many visitors to Mount Rainier National Park must make reservations if they plan to drive there this summer.

Driving the news: The park is testing a new reservation system to reduce crowding and hopefully "spread visitation throughout the day," park superintendent Greg Dudgeon said in a news release.

Details: From May 24 to Sept. 2, reservations will be required to reach the Paradise Corridor through the park's Nisqually or Stevens Canyon entrances from 7am–3pm.

  • Similarly, from July 3 to Sept. 2, visitors will need a reservation to enter the Sunrise Corridor at the White River Entrance via State Route 410, also from 7am–3pm.

The big picture: Park officials say the number of visitors to Mount Rainier has increased about 40% over the past 10 years.

  • That leads to traffic jams and long wait times, and can also damage plant ecosystems and trails, the park service says on its website.

What they're saying: "In recent years, it's been too common for visitors to sit in idling cars for a couple of hours at the entrance stations and then make laps through the parking lots hoping for an empty parking space," Dudgeon said in a press release.

How it works: Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov for $2 per vehicle, which gives you a two-hour entry window.

  • Reservations for July visits can be booked online starting Feb. 21 for the Paradise Corridor and April 1 for the Sunrise Corridor.
  • Starting May 1, visitors can book reservations for August through Labor Day.

Plus: If you're not much of a planner, a block of reservations will be released daily at 7pm throughout the summer for visits the next day.

Of note: You'll still need to pay the standard entry fee to visit the park ($30 per vehicle).

  • There's no specified time to leave once you enter the park during your reservation window.
  • If you've booked overnight lodging or camping, you don't need to make an additional timed-entry reservation; you can enter anytime after 1pm on the first day of your stay.

What we're watching: The park hasn't committed yet to using the timed entry system in future years, spokesperson Terry Wildy told Axios.

  • Park officials will look at the results of this year's pilot program before making that decision, Wildy said.
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