Trip Report    

Intermediate Snowshoe - Mazama Ridge (Mount Rainier)

Snow camping at its finest

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Road to Paradise was mostly dry. One driver put on chains at the chain area on the way up, just in case.

    The biggest adventure was getting our overnight permit - see section at the end of the trip report.

We had an excellent weather forecast and perfect snow conditions for a classic overnight trip to Mazama Ridge. After setting up camp, some of us explored the route towards Cowlitz Gap, stopping before the obvious cornice fall debris: 


Back at camp, we enjoyed a nice sunset, dinner and conversation around a round snow table. In the morning, the weather was still incredibly gorgeous so we decided to return via a longer route. Leaving camp around 9am, we made a loop visiting Faraway Rock, which had great views of the Tatoosh!


It was great to explore the backcountry area, and we did not see any other people until we intersected the usual Reflection Lakes marked path. We decided not to visit the lakes, and returned to Paradise via the trail. We checked with the group to make sure everyone was comfortable crossing the small bridge over Paradise River:


... and after a last small uphill we popped back into Paradise parking lot. A great time was had by all.

Special section: getting our overnight wilderness permit

Rainier NP has made a change to their winter camping / wilderness permit and we had to wait for a long time in line at the ranger station at Longmire. It was taking about 9-10 minutes per party! We thought the people in front of us were amateurs and should have done their research ahead of time instead of taking up the rangers' time, but no - we also had to sit through a long process. They are now putting your information into recreation.gov (make sure you have all the car makes and license plate numbers printed ahead of time). It also costs $6 for the reservation, which is new this year, and they only take credit cards (make sure your credit card is not buried deep in the backpack that you left in the car). The ranger will insist on reading to you all the rules and regulations, and even if you try to be subtle and sign the permit before they are done... you cannot escape the reading of the rules.

I felt bad for the people who were behind us in line, some must have waited at least an additional hour and this is all happening AFTER the gate has opened.

Apparently you can now get your permit ahead of time on recreation.gov (for an additional $20), but I haven't yet figured out how. I will update the report if I do.