Summer might seem far away, but now is the time to start making plans — especially if you want to visit Mount Rainer.
Mount Rainier National Park visitors will need a reservation to enter through the park's most popular entrances — Sunrise and Paradise — during peak hours starting this summer.
As the park’s popularity has grown over the last few years, having jumped from about 1.1 million visitors in 2013 to more than 1.6 million in 2022, the National Park Service said it is implementing this pilot program to reduce crowding and make visits more enjoyable.
“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,” said Superintendent Greg Dudgeon in a National Park Service press release.
New reservation system takes effect
Visitors will need a reservation between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. and each reservation will provide a two-hour entry window for $2 per car, with no required departure time. Early birds and night owls are in luck and will not need a reservation before 7 a.m. or after 3 p.m.
Reservation requirements for the Paradise Corridor entrance will be effective from May 24–Sept. 2, and Sunrise Corridor entrance will be effective from July 3–Sept. 2. Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. Reservations can be made three months in advance.
Dates through July will be available for reservation on Feb. 21 for the Paradise Corridor and April 1 for the Sunrise Corridor. Reservations for dates in August through Labor Day will open on May 1. A block of reservations will be released each day through the summer at 7 p.m. for use the following day, according to the press release.
In addition to wanting to make visiting the park a more enjoyable experience, the pilot program will hopefully provide an environmental benefit.
“The timed entry reservation system pilot is projected to reduce wait times at entrance stations, reduce road and trail congestion, reduce impacts to fragile subalpine meadows and improve parking options at popular destinations such as Paradise and Sunrise. This will lead to a better visitor experience — more time in the park, less time in cars waiting in line or searching for parking,” the release said.
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