Departing from Paradise Inn, the Paradise Valley Snowshoe Loop is a relatively easy and accessible trail, and it is one of the best ways to experience the breathtaking views of both Mount Rainier and the neighboring, craggy Tatoosh Range.
The trail along the Paradise Valley Route is broad and open with consistent views, and it gradually winds around the valley's bowl as it drops nearly 700 feet to the Narada Falls junction. Here, a short one-way detour will put you atop the 176-foot cascade, which makes for a popular ice climbing location when temperatures are cold enough. The singletrack trail leading back up to Paradise Inn from Narada Falls is too steep to be suitable for cross-country skiing. It is a lovely trail, however, that traverses through a beautiful forest dominated by mountain hemlock, pacific silver fir, and noble fir.
Highway 706/Paradise Road up to Paradise is the only maintained and plowed road into Mount Rainier National Park with the exception of adventures that depart 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 allows 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 the gate opens daily starting December 22.
Other than a National Park Pass, special day use permits are not required. Winter backcountry camping is permitted throughout Mount Rainier National Park once a minimum of 5 feet of snow has accumulated as long as you camp 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.