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Mountain snow got off to a late start this season but is making up for lost time, with recent storms increasing snowpack to winter averages at Mount Rainier National Park and other areas.

“The road to Paradise was closed for avalanche danger this past weekend, but we were busy here at Longmire with lots of people having a great time,” said Longmire Information Center Interpretive Ranger Curt Jacquot.

Weekend guided snowshoe walks usually meet at the park’s Jackson Visitor Center, but if the road to Paradise is closed as it was last weekend, snowshoe walks meet at Longmire.

Rental snowshoes and cross country skis, information on local trails for snow enthusiasts of any experience level, National Park Inn lodging and dining, a small general store and the park museum are all at Longmire, open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, 6.5 miles from the Nisqually Entrance, the only park entrance open in winter.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

Guided 1.5-mile, 2-hour snowshoe walks for ages 8 and older start at 11:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through March, with sign up available an hour before each walk at Jackson Visitor Center. Bring your own snowshoes or rent them, wear a hat, gloves and boots and bring sunscreen and sunglasses for the ranger-guided expeditions.

Snowshoe walks are first-come, first-served and there’s usually enough room for everyone, but if the guided walks are full, park staff at Longmire can provide information for safe self-guided walks. Check the day’s weather on the park’s website or by phone before heading out, and no matter what the weather conditions, all vehicles entering the park are required to carry tire chains throughout the winter season.

Paradise is the only place in Mount Rainier National Park where sledding is allowed, weekends only, in a designated area, snow level permitting, using soft sliding flexible sleds, inner tubes, and saucers only, no hard toboggans or runner sleds. Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise offers park information, food and a gift shop 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays only.

U.S. Forest Service guided snowshoe walks are available at Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass and other areas, weather and snowpack permitting, by reservation; see Datebook for more information.

Madeline Mckenzie:

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