I decided to get the early morning Web cam images (see Web page) and show you what the early morning is like at Paradise, before the NPS folks drive up from Longmire to check the road from the control gage just east of Longmire to Paradise and to check the parking lot. And they open up the Jackson Visitors Center (only open to the public 10 am to 5 pm weekends and holidays).
These pictures are from this morning at 6:40 am PST. The cameras are in the Jackson Visitors Center. Looking north to the summit of Mt. Rainier across the snowplay area.
Looking east across the parking lot to the Mountain Guide Center and Paradise Inn and Mazama Ridge. Obviously someone(s) spent the night snowcamping.
Looking south to the Tatoosh Range.
And finally looking southwest to the road from Longmire.
The NPS folks usually arrive between 8-9 depending on the weather and road conditions. If there is snow on the parking lot and road, the snowplows are used (stored in the administrative building at Paradise). If the conditions are good and clear, even if some ice or snow on the persists, the gate above Longmire is opened between 9-10 am.
There may be an additional stop at the Nisqually Bridge (parking lot just south of the bridge) for the proper tires, chains if necessary, for the different types of vehicles. Almost always 4 wheel drive vehicles with winter tires don't need chains, but you are required to carry them (except they don't check).
That's it this morning. Check the Webcams during the day to see the number of visitors. And you can bet the folks who camped overnight won't have problems finding their truck in the parking lot.