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Are you ready to take a day trip from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) and get out for the day? Mount Rainier National Park is absolutely beautiful in the winter time. We asked Military Spouse and blogger Olivia Michelle for tips getting outside in Washington State during winter time. She said “It is a white winter wonderland and offers many different types of snow activities. There are a few things you need to know before you decide to head to Rainier for a snow day.”

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National Park Entry Fee

There is a fee for entering Mount Rainier National Park. You can purchase a day pass for $30/vehicle, an annual pass for $55, or an annual national park Pass (this will get you into all National Parks in the U.S. for one year) for $80. All active duty military members and dependants are eligible to get the America the bEautiful Pass for FREE. You can show your military ID at any national Park upon arrival to receive your pass.You do not have to pre-purchase passes (but this is an option) you can purchase one when you arrive. To pre-purchase a day/week/annual pass to Mount Rainier national Park, click HERE. To pre-purchase an American the Beautiful annual National Park Pass, click HERE.

Snow Chains are Required

Regardless if you have an AWD/4WD vehicle, you are still required to carry snow chains when visiting Rainier National Park from November 1st – May 1st each year. Snow chains can be on the expensive side and range from $100-200+. You do have options other than purchasing though. There are a few places you can rent snow chains instead of purchasing to take with you. You can also purchase a set of snow chains at any Les Schwab Tire location and if you do not use them they will allow you to return them with your receipt for a full refund. If you get caught without snow chains inside the park, you can face a fine of up to $500 so you don’t want to chance it.

For more info on tire chains at Les Schwab, click HERE. For info about renting snow chains, click HERE.

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North Entrance is Closed Seasonally

The Northern entrance to Mount Rainier National Park is closed seasonally, so the only entrance open during winter months is the Southern entrance by the Longmire Visitor’s Center.

The Road Closes due to Bad Conditions

BEFORE heading to Rainier for the day you will want to check Mount Rainier’s NPS Twitter account to make sure the road will be open. Trust me, you do not want to drive 2-2.5 hours there and find out the road is closed (we did this two years ago). The road from Longmire Visitor’s Center to Paradise is the only road that opens and gives you access in/out of the park during the winter months. If road conditions are bad then they do close the road and do not allow access that day. The only place that is updated daily to check is the Twitter account and you do not have to have an account to view current updates.
View Mount Rainier NPS’s Twitter account HERE.

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Snow ActivitiesThere are tons of different snow activities you can do at Rainier National Park in the winter. Activities include: sledding/tubing, snow-shoeing, cross country skiing and more. Please note that there are no rentals for these activities inside the park so you will want to rent them elsewhere and bring your own gear in. You can find all of these activities at the Paradise area. There are four groomed sledding/tubing hills at Paradise and they are tons of fun! Make sure to dress in appropriate snow gear, as the Paradise area gets 10+ feet of snow in the winter time and average temperatures are a high of 28 degrees/low of -2 in winter.
View average temperatures monthly for the park HERE. View snow safety tips at Rainier HERE.

For some great hikes all year round, check out our blog for great ideas for the whole family.

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