Thursday, October 15, 2009
Parking at Paradise
It's now a parking lot.
The NPS at Mt. Rainier NP announced the lower parking at Pardise at the old and now demolited visitors center (the 1966 spaceship building, above) is finished and open. It's a little late for this year and won't help through the fall and winter and into spring because there rarely are days where the upper lot even begins to fill, and that's only on weekends or holiday with good weather, but it's there now. And it's uncertain how much will be plowed once the seasonal snow starts. The announcement said there still is some landscaping to finish around the parking lot.
The benefit of this additional parking won't be seen until the summer of 2010. It still won't accommodate all the visitors, and the shuttle service will likely be operated through the main visitors season June through Labor Day weekend. But if you go early in the day, you'll have a better chance of finding parking which is key for many staying at the Paradise Inn or hiking the trails. The summit climb services usually operate vans to reduce the number of vehicles for their trips.
I really like the new visitors center, but still kinda miss the old one. It had a walk-around outer main floor and a 360-degree open top floor. But it was always cold and showed its age by the 1990's when I restarted hiking in the NP, and as the song goes, "The times they are achangin'"