Jackson Visitors Center May 22
I have updated the news and information Web pages for the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide for the changes in the roads and facilities which the NPS begins opening May 21-28th. Some of planned openings, namely roads, haven't occurred as planned, as the opening date for those is based on the snowpack and the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Currently this is primarily Highway 410 from the northeastern boundary to Cayuse and Chinook passes, and Highway 410 from there east to Yakima. The highway was expected to open May 21st but will likely be before or near the Memorial Day holiday weekend. It is the major route to the NP from Seattle. Otherwise, they have to use the Tacoma route on Highway 7 to Elbe and Highway 706 to the Nisqually entrance.
All of the rest of the roads and facilities are opening on schedule, which you can find on the map of current access or the latest NPS Tahoma spring newsletter (PDF).
So, if you plan a visit to the NP, be prepared for cold weather. It's still spring in the NP, cold and snow at the upper elevations, above 4,000 feet, and cool and possible rain in the rest of the NP. There will be some periods of sunny days into mid-late June as the consistent summer weather doesn't show up until late June and more so into July.
The facilities will slowly open through the Memorial Day holiday to the Indepdence Day (July 4th) holiday. The snowmelt, which started May 14th, will progress through June and into July with the higher elevations, at and below the 5,500 foot elevation, will be snow free in mid-July, and later through July at the higher elevations.
Enjoy your visit this spring and you're always welcome to send me e-mail for additional information, to ask questions or report problems with my photo guide.