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Mount Rainier road open, but visitation down

Post by Jeff Mayor / The News Tribune on Feb. 19, 2009 at 11:39 am with No Comments »
February 19, 2009 11:39 am

The lack of fresh snow in the last few weeks has been a mixed blessing for winter visitors to Mount Rainier National Park.

It means they’ve had weekday access to Paradise but there was been little fresh powder in which they can play, ski or snowboard.

After a slide took out part of one lane of the road to Paradise on Glacier Hill, park staff announced weekday openings of the road would be limited to those days when conditions are "near perfect."

It seems as if conditions have been good, if not near perfect, much of the time since the road reopened.

I spoke Wednesday with acting superintendent Randy King about the road situation. He said there has been only one weekday in which the road wasn’t open.

He said drivers have been doing a good job of going through the damaged areas without backing up traffic in areas prone to avalanches.

Even with the road being open much of the past month, winter park visitation is down significantly, said chief ranger Chuck Young.

Checking park stats, I found that January’s recreation visits total was 14,765, down 32.31 percent from 2008. December visitation was 13,929, down 39.15 percent from December 2007.

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