The snowplay area at Paradise will open Saturday. How many runs there are for the opening depends on how much snow falls between now and then.
Chuck Young, chief ranger at Mount Rainier National Park, told me this afternoon the area would definitely open this weekend. Road access and openingtime will be dependent on how much snow will need to be plowed on Saturday morning, he reminded visitors.
If enough snow falls – Paradise got about a foot of new snow Tuesday – Young said the park staff will be able to use a snow machine to carve the runs. If there is not enough snow, rangers would use snowshoes to tramp down a single run.
The snowplay area is immediately north of the upper parking lot at Paradise. This is the only area in the park where sliding and sledding is allowed.
The area will be supervised daily by rangers from Saturday through Jan. 3, and on weekends and holidays from Jan. 9 through March 28.
Visitors may use the runs when the area is not staffed, but the runs are not groomed during the week. For current snowplay status, contact the Longmire Museum at 360-569-2211, ext. 3314 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
The park does have several guidelines:
- Use only inner tubes, plastic sleds, saucers, or other soft sliding devices. No wooden toboggans, runner sleds with metal edges or other hard devices are permitted.
- Compressed air is available at the rock restroom tunnel across the plaza from the new Jackson Visitor Center when snowplay rangers are present.
- Be sure the run is clear before starting your slide. Collisions may cause serious injury.
- Dress warmly and in layers with a wicking fabric such as wool or polypropylene next to the skin and a waterproof outer layer. Wear a hat, gloves, and snow-sealed boots. Do not wear lightweight blue jeans and t-shirts. They get wet easily and will not keep you warm.
- Rest, re-warm and snack frequently to help keep you comfortable and alert. Take a warm-up break at the visitor center before feet, hands, noses or ears feel numb. Food service is available from 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. when the visitor center is open.
- The snowplay area is usually closed by 4:30 p.m. nightly.