ASHFORD, Wash. — The National Parks Service (NPS) is planning to implement a timed-entry reservation system at Mount Rainier's park entrances and is asking for public feedback on the plan.
The decision to add a timed-entry reservation system comes as the popularity of Mount Rainier National Park is growing. From 2008 to 2021 annual visitation rose from 1.1 million visits per year to above 1.7 million visits. Of those visits, 70% occur in the summer months between July and September.
The NPS said during these months, visitors can wait for more than an hour to get into the park at the Nisqually and White River Entrance Stations which causes congestion inside and outside of the park and leads to parking in undesignated areas.
"We’ve seen the lines to the entrance stations stretch out – in some cases over a few miles, which can certainly result in folks being delayed in their ability to enter the park and also has had an effect on the people that live outside of the park and their ability to come and go from their homes and businesses," said Teri Tucker a spokesperson with the NPS.
Much of the use is concentrated in a relatively small number of popular destinations, including Paradise. Because of this, the NPS is proposing managing the pace of entry of vehicles into key areas of the park including Paradise and Sunrise.
The park is also considering implementing a timed-entry reservation system during peak times at the park’s Nisqually, Stevens Canyon, and White River entrance stations. Tucker said the reservations would just be for peak use times and that a majority of the year visitors to the park would not need a reservation to enter.
Other national parks have already implemented time-entry systems as the use of the parks has become more popular. Tucker said Acadia National Park, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and Glacier National Park all either have a timed-entry system in place or have piloted the type of system.
The NPS is holding a virtual meeting for the public to learn about the proposed action. NPS staff will answer questions about the plan and share information on how to provide comments. The virtual meeting will be held on May 3 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Microsoft Teams. Click here to register for the meeting.