Planning for Paradise: Your Input on Mount Rainier's Future
Mount Rainier National Park is looking for your help to improve visitor experiences and reduce congestion in the most trafficked area of the park.
Mount Rainier National Park is onto the second phase of an effort to improve visitor experiences and protect natural resources in the southwest corner of the park, between Nisqually and Paradise. Your feedback can help shape an eventual plan to help manage the flow of visitors to key destinations within the roadway corridor.
What does this mean?
In 2020, Mount Rainier National Park began the process to create a visitor use management plan. The park asked for feedback on how to reduce congestion and improve visitor experience along the most popular access point to the park: Paradise Road.
Now, the park is encouraging users to provide their feedback again, this time on proposed strategies to allow visitors to safely use, experience and enjoy the park while mitigating traffic congestion and park degradation.
What are they proposing?
After feedback in the first round, the park has developed strategies to recommend in their planning. They include suggestions like:
- Reservations and timed entry: Implement reservation and other timed-entry systems to better manage the distribution and flow of vehicles into the park by distributing use across time and space. This could include parking lot reservations for specific areas.
- Trip planning: Improve visitor information outside of the park by used a wide variety of trip planning tools, such as websites, apps and social media, in addition to better information sharing through partnerships.
- Winter use: This could include extending the camping season at certain sites, particularly Cougar Rock, and adding an additional gate for winter access to the park.
- Paradise visitor management: Enhance trails and signage in the Paradise area. Could also include converting picnic areas to parking areas and designating some parkings areas as day-use or overnight only.
- Cougar Rock Picnic Area: Adapting this area for multiple uses, including as trailhead parking for the Wonderland Trail, redesigning the picnic area as remote parking for a potential shuttle and expanding camping in the area.
- Westside Road: Looking into opening this area up for vehicle access.
- Shuttle: Offer shuttle systems, one from Cougar Rock to Paradise and one around the Paradise Loops.
And the park wants your ideas! How do you feel about the solutions listed above? Do you have something better in mind? Let the park know.
Why is your feedback important?
Visitation to Mount Rainier is consistently increasing — with 30% growth between 2008 to 2018 — and the majority of these visitors (70%) pass through the park between July and September. This has led to wait times of more than an hour at the Nisqually entrance on busy days, causing congestion both at the entry gate and at the trailheads beyond it. Mount Rainier National Park is an iconic destination for many in and outside of Washington state, so we need to collectively think about what sustainable access to these great lands looks like long-term.
WTA asked for your participation in this planning process last year, and we want the hiking community to continue to use their voice to promote solutions.
Provide your feedback by Sept. 14!