Many visitors to Mount Rainier National Park will need reservations this summer to enter some of the park’s most popular areas.
From May 24 through Labor Day, most visitors entering the Nisqually and Stevens Canyon entrances between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. will need to make an online or phone reservation ahead of time. Reservations will also be required at the White River entrance to the Sunrise corridor via state Route 410 from July 3 through Labor Day.
The decision to test a new reservation system comes after years of increased popularity in the park. According to the National Park Service, visitation grew from just over 1.1 million in 2013 to about 1.6 million in 2022. The reservation system is part of a pilot program that aims to ease congestion during the park’s peak hours.
Other national parks around the country have put in place similar reservation systems as they try to manage crowding and traffic.
“In recent years, it’s been too common for visitors to sit in idling cars for a couple of hours at the entrance stations and then make laps through the parking lots hoping for an empty parking space,” Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Greg Dudgeon said in a statement.
The National Park Service began looking at options for timed reservations at Mount Rainier last year. A timed reservation system was on a slate of possible solutions discussed, including providing shuttle vehicles, to free up parking and prevent traffic backups.
The new reservation system will be tested through Sept. 2. Reservations can be made up to three months in advance. Throughout the summer, the park will release a block of reservations every day at 7 p.m. to use for the following day.
Reservations through July for the Paradise corridor via the Nisqually and Stevens Canyon entrances will open Feb. 21. Reservations for the White River entrance and Sunrise corridor will open April 1. Reservations for August through Labor Day will open on May 1.
Visitors can make reservations online at recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
Each reservation will cover one personal vehicle and will cost $2, which does not include entrance fees to the park. It will provide a two-hour window that the car can enter the park and does not include a required departure time.
Those with lodging or camping reservations will not need to make a timed entry reservation and can enter the park any time after 1 p.m. on the day their stay begins. Those with wilderness, research or special use permits also do not need a timed entry reservation.
Other areas of the park, including Ohanapecosh, Tipsoo Lake, Carbon River and Mowich Lake, will not require reservations at any time.
For more information on the timed entry reservations, visit the National Park Service website.
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