Edith Creek Basin is a popular place for backcountry skiers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers. Paradise Lodge sits right below the alpine zone and offers shelter on the stormy days and access to bigger lines when the visibility is good. Edith Creek Basin is a great place to learn the basics of backcountry skiing because of its easy access and the variety of low angle slopes.
To access Edith Creek Basin, head north from the parking lot, and continue along the west side of the basin. The slopes along the basin will gradually get steeper as you head further north along the basin's rim. Continuing up to Panorama Point provides great views and steeper lines that funnel back into Edith Creek Basin. Mazama Ridge is on the east side, offering fall line skiing that feeds back in into Edith Creek Basin. The intermediate pitches are popular among those looking for a little more challenging terrain.
On sunny days, heading up to Camp Muir can be worth the slog. The 4,500-foot descent provides great fall line skiing, and the descent is longer than that of any ski area.
Overnight parking at Paradise allows backcountry users the ability to camp in the lot or to find a sheltered grove of trees to setup a camp.
WA Hwy 706/Paradise Road up to Paradise is the only maintained and plowed road into Mount Rainier National Park with the exception of adventures that begin from Chinook Pass. Paradise Inn is closed in the winter, but the Jackson Visitor Center (Paradise) is open and staffed on weekends and holidays from mid-October through May. The National Park Inn in Longmire is open year-round.
The gate at Longmire, which permits vehicles up to Paradise, is only open from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. It is highly recommended that all vehicles start their return to Longview no later than 4:30 P.M. From November 12 through December 21 the gate is only open Thursday through Monday. The gate opens daily starting December 22. Up to date road conditions and closures are posted here by Mount Rainier National Park.
Other than a National Park Pass, special day use permits are not required. Once a minimum of 5 feet of snow has accumulated, winter backcountry camping is permitted throughout Mount Rainier National Park so long as you are a minimum of 300 feet from all trails and structures. A free backcountry permit is required and can be obtained at the Longmire Information Center and at the Jackson Visitor Center in Paradise. Groups larger than 12 can camp in the designated group campsites at Paradise only.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.