Thursday, December 10, 2009
Updated December 10th.--I've updated the news, the access and conditions, and the monthly report Web pages for the photo guide to Mt. Rainier NP. It's easy to describe the NP in December, and that is winter and more winter to come. The snow level is 3-4,000 feet elevation present throughout the NP above 4,000 feet, with 3-4 feet at 5,000+ feet elevation.
This mean the NP is in full winter operation mode, with all entrances closed at the NP except the Nisqually (southwest) entrance, open to Longmire and daily cleared to Paradise (weather permitting), and the Carbon River (northwest) entrance which is open to hikers. This entrance is open almost year around due to the lower elevation (~2,000 ft) at the entrance. All the facilities are closed except at Longmire (all open weather permitting) and Paradise (visitors center open weekends and holidays).
Paradise is currently open to winter activities for skiers and snowshoers. Snowboarders will have to wait until there is the minimum 5 feet of snow in the snowplay areas at Paradise. That should happen later in December, hopefully for the Christmas and New Years weekends. You can also snowshoe or ski into the Mowich Lake area when sufficient snow exists on the road.
Otherwise, for photographers, plan for all weather, be flexible with your plans and schedule, and be prepared with the clothes for the weather. And make sure you're familar with the winter driving rules in the NP. They control the road to Paradise just east of Longmire but also operate a chain-up area at the Nisqually Bridge parking if the road from the bridge to Paradise restricts access to vehicles or chains.
In addition I have updated the winter photography guide, with a map of places, activities and conditions. That's it for now. It's a simple word now, snow.