The snowplay area just above the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center in Mount Rainier National Park is a popular spot for riding sleds and inner tubes.

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The snowplay area just above the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center in Mount Rainier National Park is a popular spot for riding sleds and inner tubes.

For the first time in recent memory, though, there will be no play to be had for the winter season.

That doesn’t seem to be inhibiting tourists.

In January, 91,000 people visited the national park compared with 23,000 during January 2014.

Last November had even bigger jumps.

The particularly balmy start of that month brought visitors in droves, about 111,000 people in total compared with 59,000 the year before. The park hasn’t had a lot of complaints about the lack of snow, either.

Although it’s typically open from the latter half of December until sometime in March, the snowplay area at Paradise has been closed virtually every day this winter.

Park officials require the snowpack to be at least 5 feet high before they’ll allow sledders and tubers to hit the snowplay slopes. The snow reached that depth one time in December, but it only lasted for about a day before the rain melted it off.

Currently, the snowpack at Paradise is hovering around 40 percent, according to Rainier National Park Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout. The park requires the minimum depth to protect the vegetation from the heavy machinery the park uses to groom the slopes. There are tree tops poking out of the surface in some areas, and bare patches in others.

Typically, those patches don’t appear until June or July.

Swartout said employees who have worked for the park for decades can’t remember the last time the snow has been this minimal.

Although they were holding out for a break in the weather, on March 4 officials decided to mothball the snowplay area for the entire season.

“All cumulative, we got close to about 150 inches of snow this year, compared to 600 inches in previous years,” she said.

Certain winter camping sites around the park have been closed because the snow is too low, and those looking to do backcountry skiing are having to go higher in to the mountains to find adequate snow.