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Jonathan Stull | 12.07.2016

Mount Rainier is renowned for its heavy winters. Think of pine boughs laden with a layer of snow, miniature avalanches cascading from each branch with every strong breeze. Paradise, located at 5,400 feet in elevation, has received nearly 643 inches of snowfall per year on average since 1920, including a whopping 1,122 inches during the winter of 1972—at the time, a world record.

Likewise, adventurers are certainly snowbound when they visit Mount Rainier in the winter, when the broad white expanse beckons to snowshoers, skiers, and sledders alike. Hikers can learn about Mount Rainier’s winter ecology on a guided snowshoe tour with park rangers, and the intrepid can strike out for overnights (with a permit, of course) in the quiet, cold wilderness for an experience that is truly one of a kind. There are mountain hideaways here, too, for those who appreciate a warm bed and a cup of coffee in the morning.

Mount Rainier is the most voluminous peak on the West Coast. There’s enough here to sate the winter appetite of the most reclusive outdoor aficionado!

Snowshoeing

  • Comet Falls Hike: Perhaps a snowshoe, perhaps a hike, depending on the snowpack. Either way, this adventure leads to a 462-foot waterfall, Rainier’s tallest.
  • Edith Creek Basin: Easy access and a modest trail length from the Jackson Visitor Center makes this a winter classic at Mount Rainier.
  • Paradise Valley Loop: An easy and accessible loop from Paradise Inn.
  • Nisqually Vista Trail: A short loop, perhaps the easiest at Mount Rainier, to one of its best views.

Backcountry Skiing

  • Edith Creek Basin: A great place to learn backcountry techniques for its low-angled slopes.
  • Paradise Glacier: Few crowds and commanding views on the Cascades’ biggest mountain.

Sledding

Cross-Country Skiing

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