Winter backcountry camping is actually permitted anywhere throughout Mount Rainier National Park once a minimum of 5 feet of snow has accumulated and as long as you maintain a minimum distance 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 must camp within one of the the three designated group camping areas located within 0.5 miles of the Paradise parking lot: Deadhorse Creek Basin, Guide House, and Paradise Inn Group Campsites.
Overnight camping in the parking lot or in vehicles is not permitted and is strictly enforced, while food is required to be left in vehicles or in an approved hard-sided container. Five-gallon drum containers are available for loan and can be picked up at the same time as your camping permit.
Note: In order to protect ground vegetation, a minimum of 8 feet of snow is required before snow caves and structures are created.
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 departing 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., and it is highly recommended that all vehicles start their return to Longview no later than 4:30 P.M. The gate is only open Thursday through Monday from November 12 through December 21, and daily starting December 22.
Overnight parking is permitted in three locations: the upper portion of the Paradise parking lot across from Paradise Inn, the lower lot next to the Nisqually Vista Trail trailhead, and at Narada Falls.