Planning to visit Mount Rainier or Olympic National Park during the final few weeks of summer? Be aware that wait times at park entrances may be long and that parking lots to popular viewpoints and hikes may quickly become full.

Luckily, the National Park Service has tips to avoid getting caught in traffic.

Both national parks, among the most visited in Washington state, have Twitter accounts where officials regularly post traffic and parking updates on busy summer days. If you’re ready to get creative, download park maps you can access offline to scope out alternative parking or restroom locations.

WA Labor Day weekend traffic is coming. Here’s how to handle it

How to avoid traffic at Mount Rainier National Park

If you’re visiting on the weekend, know that there are usually long wait times at the Nisqually and White River entrances and the Paradise and Sunrise parking lots are filled by late morning. Visitors can avoid these by arriving early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

If you’re parking at Paradise, overflow parking is available at the Paradise Picnic Area and along Paradise Valley Road, which may require a long uphill walk. If the Sunrise parking area is filled, vehicles will be held at the White River entrance and then slowly metered in as other vehicles depart, according to the National Park Service.


Other tips and resources to monitor traffic include:

The National Park Service recommends trying the public restroom in Elbe along Highway 706 at the rest area managed by the Washington State Department of Transportation or the Ashford County Park.

See more tips online at Mount Rainier National Park’s summer congestion webpage.

How to avoid traffic at Olympic National Park

During the summer, the Olympic National Park Twitter account will notify when certain parking lots are full and when they start to open up.

According to the National Park Service, parking lots can fill up by midmorning any day of the week and entrance station wait times last as long as one to two hours.

To avoid summer congestion at Hurricane Ridge, plan to visit before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m., or after 3 p.m. on holidays.

If you’re the visiting the Hoh Rain Forest, peak visitation times are between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and June, July and August are the busiest months. Wait times are about 30 minutes late morning or late afternoon or more than two hours midday.

If you’re going this Labor Day weekend or another holiday weekend, expect longer than normal delays and Sunday to be the busiest day.

See more tips online at Olympic National Park’s summer visits webpage.