Mount Rainier National Park has six developed campgrounds providing almost 600 sites. These campgrounds open by the end of June through mid September. Only one campground, Sunshine Point, is open for auto camping all year round. The other five campgrounds close in September and October, depending upon location and weather. Backcountry camping is permitted all year round by permit only. Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh campgrounds operate on a reservation only basis from 01 July through Labor Day.
A 14 day camping limitation applies to all camping.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a hazard in recreational vehicles. Keep at least two windows or vents open to assure cross ventilation. Charcoal should not be used for heating or cooking in trailers, tents, or campers. Check your exhaust system regularly for leaks and do not run the engine when the vehicle is not moving. Keep gas appliances properly cleaned.
To help prevent thefts, lock your possessions in the vehicle trunk and keep wallets, purses and cameras with you. When leaving your campsite for any period of time, be sure to lock your vehicle and lock all valuables in the vehicle trunk or recreation vehicle.
Cougar Rock - 1 Jul - Labor Day - reservations only - rest of season, first come, first serve. 14 day limit. Make reservations online or by phone at 1-800-365-2267. Cougar Rock Campground NPS Map 156.4K.
Ipsut Creek - walk or bike in, register at Wilkeson Ranger Station during summer and early fall, 14 day limit. Maybe closed depending on snow and road conditions. Fee charged from the last Friday in May through Labor Day. Group sites $25.00 with water, $20.00 without water. Ipsut Creek Campground NPS Map 110.7K.
Mowich Lake - Undesignated walk in sites, no fires allowed.
Ohanapecosh - Last Tuesday in June - Labor Day, reservations only - rest of season - first come, first serve. 14 day limit. Make reservations online or by phone at 1-800-365-2267. Ohanapecosh Campground NPS Map 161.4K.
Sunshine Point - No reservations, register at campground. Sunshine Point Campground NPS Map 111.4K.
White River - No reservations, register at campground. White River Campground NPS Map 125.7K.
Geologic Hazards at Mt. Rainier
Longmire Village and the Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh, White River, Ipsut Creek, and Sunshine Point frontcountry campgrounds are all vulnerable to geologic hazards. Although eruptive events are usually preceded by an increase in earthquake activity, other geologic hazards (e.g., debris flows and glacial outburst floods, with the added hazard of rockfall at White River campground) can occur without warning. Park employees and visitors may have insufficient warning to safely leave the area should an event occur. Although Longmire and the frontcountry campgrounds will be open for use according to the posted spring opening schedule, you must decide if you will assume the personal risk of spending time in these potentially dangerous locations. If you choose to stay, be sure to review posted geologic hazard, evacuation and escape information.
Religious & Church Services - Services are available in the park and in the surrounding communities. Schedule information is available at park visitor centers.
Laundry / Showers - Laundry facilities are located outside the park at Ashford and Packwood. Showers are located in the Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise.
Service Station - Gasoline and automobile repairs are available outside the park in local communities.
Supplies - Limited camper supplies are available at the National Park Inn at Longmire, Sunrise Lodge and in the communities of Ashford, Packwood, Eatonville and Enumclaw. Ice may be obtained at Longmire and in Ashford and Packwood.
|Campground||Open||Close||Sites||Dump Station||Toilets||Drinking Water||Tables||Fee|
|Cougar Rock||May||Oct||200||Yes||Flush||Yes||Yes||$12.00 - $15.00|
|Ipsut Creek||Year round||29||No||Pit||Yes||Yes||$9.00
$20.00 - $25.00 group
|Ohanapecosh||May||Oct||205||Yes||Flush||Yes||Yes||$12.00 - $15.00
|Sunshine Point||All Year||18||No||Pit||Yes||Yes||$10.00|
Reserving a Campsite
Individuals or families seeking to camp at Cougar Rock or Ohanapecosh Campgrounds during the period of 01 July through Labor Day, must have reservations. Make reservations online or by phone at: 1-800-365-2267.
From late June through Labor Day, campers who wish to stay at either Cougar Rock Campground or Ohanapecosh Campground must have a reservation. Fee per night: $15.00 Group Sites are reservable the last Friday of May through Columbus Day. To make reservations at either location:
Online requests: National Park Reservation Service (http://reservations.nps.gov)
Phone requests (call 7:00 am to 7:00 pm PST)
Within USA: 1-800-365-2267
Reservations may be made from computers located at the Cougar Rock Campground and Ohanapecosh Ranger Station. Reservations at the campground can be made only on the arrival date.
Types of acceptable payment: VISA, MasterCard, Discover, money order or check.
National Park Reservation Service, Account Services: 1-800-388-2733
Cancellation Policy: All changes of a reservation will be considered a cancellation and charged a $13.65 cancellation fee. Cancellations made on the day of arrival will be charged an additional one night camping fee.
National Park Reservation Service
P.O. Box 1600
Cumberland, MD 21502
Camping must be done within the design capacity of each site with a maximum of 6 persons per site unless the camping party is immediate family. Ask a ranger about parking extra vehicles. Camping is limited to no more than 14 days during July and August. A maximum of two tents are permitted at each site
Keep fires small and within the closed grating provided and leave no trash in the grate. Do not leave fires unattended. Collection of wood is not permitted. Firewood may be purchased from private wood concessioners at the Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh, and White River Campgrounds, or you may bring your own firewood.
Dogs, cats and other pets must be caged, on a leash or otherwise under physical restraint at all times. Pets may not be left unattended. Pets are not permitted in amphitheaters, buildings, on trails or in vegetated areas. They are permitted only in parking lots and roads open to vehicles.
All vehicles (cars, trucks, RVs, tent-trailers and utility trailers) must be parked on the gravel or paved area of your site and not beyond the barriers. If you are leaving your vehicle for more than 24 hours and you are staying within the park, report your intentions to the campground ranger so it will not be considered abandoned property. No utilities or connections of any kind are available. A $4.00 fee is charged for additional vehicle parking.
Bicycles, Motorbikes, Roller skates, Skateboards Bicycles and Motorbikes may be operated in the campground on roadways only, in the same direction of travel as other vehicles.
To preserve the natural features of the park, driving nails into trees and ditches around tents are not permitted. Picking or cutting flowers, gathering or digging plants and trees are not permitted.
For you safety do not feed animals; it may result in your injury. Human food can cause digestive problems and may result in their death.
To insure adequate sanitation, use the restrooms. RV sink drains must empty into containers that must be emptied into the service sink or toilets only. Do not use water fountains or spigots for cleaning purposes. RV dump stations are located at the Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh Campgrounds and are available for your use at no cost.
Quiet Hours must be maintained between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am. Gasoline generators may be used only between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm. Unreasonable noise is not permitted at any time. Show respect for others during quiet hours.
Prevent thefts and protect your valuables. Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. Report suspicious persons or vehicles to a ranger.
Large group camping (12 people or more) is permitted only in specific group sites in Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh and Ipsut Creek Campgrounds. Group sites at Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh Campgrounds may be reserved through the National Park Reservation Service at 1-800-365-CAMP. Group sites may be reserved from the last Friday in May through Columbus Day. See Reserving Campsites for more information. Sites at Isput Creek Campground are not reservable. Auto campground group sites are designed for tent camping only, with several fireplaces at each site. Water is available from central taps. Comfort stations are located nearby. Because campground parking space is limited, it may be necessary to make arrangements with the campground ranger for additional parking space. Recreation vehicles and trailers cannot be accommodated at group sites. Cougar Rock Campground is located in the southwest corner of the park, 8 miles inside the Nisqually Entrance and has 5 group sites available. Sites 1, 4 and 5 will accommodate up to 25 people. Site 2 has a maximum capacity of 40. Site 3 has a maximum of 30. Ohanapecosh Campground is located in the southeast corner of the park, 11 miles north of Packwood off SR 123. Up to 25 people can be at the Ohanapecosh group site. Ipsut Creek Campground is located in the northwest corner of the park, 5 miles inside the park boundary on an unpaved road. 2 group sites are available at Ipsut Creek Campground. Parking space is limited to 6-8 cars per group site. Please note that this campground is subject to closure if the road washes out. Group camping is permitted in some backcountry wilderness campsites and in the Cougar Rock campground. Backcountry wilderness group campsites require a backcountry permit and are only available on a first come first served basis. Auto campground group sites must be reserved in advance. Between 01 Jul and Labor Day call 1-800-365-2267 (see Reserving a Campsite). After Labor Day and before 01 July reservations for auto campground group sites may be made up to 90 days prior to your first night. State the size of the group and dates (nights) you want to reserve the site(s).
Mount Rainier National Park
Tahoma Woods, Star Route
Ashford, WA 98304
Wilderness Permits up to 5 persons
Anyone planning to travel on glaciers or above 10,000 feet must obtain a climbing permit which also serves as a wilderness permit.
Ten Wilderness Essentials
Pack the "Ten Essentials" and be prepared for minor injuries, sudden weather changes or delays. Always carry:
Most backpackers at Mt. Rainier use the trailside camps listed below. Individual camps have a capacity of five people, or one immediate family, and group sites have a capacity of twelve people. All sites are allocated on a first-come first served basis on the first day of your trip. Sites may fill early on Friday and Saturday.
|Camp||Individual / Group Sites||Elevation - Feet|
|Cataract Valley||7 / 1||4,700|
|Deer Creek - H||3||3,125|
|Devil's Dream||7 / 1||5,000|
|Fire Creek||3 / 1||4,600|
|Glacier Basin||5 / 1||5,960|
|Golden Lakes||5 / 1||5,000|
|Indian Bar||3 / 1||5,000|
|Lake Eleanor||3 / 1||5,000|
|Lower Crystal Lake||2||5,510|
|Maple Creek||4 / 1||2,800|
|Mowich River - H||8 / 1||2,600|
|Mystic Camp||7 / 2||5,620|
|N. Puyallup River - H||3 / 1||3,600|
|Nickel Creek||3 / 1||3,350|
|Ollalie Creek||2 / 1||3,800|
|Paradise River||3 / 1||3,950|
|S. Puyallup River||4 / 1||4,000|
|Summerland||5 / 1||5,900|
|Sunrise||8 / 2||5,300|
|Tamanos Creek||4 / 1||5,200|
|Three Lakes - H||2 / 1||4,650|
|Upper Crystal Lake||2||5,800|
|Upper Palisades Lake||2||5,840|
H = horse sites available
* Space at Camp Muir and Camp Schurman is allotted by the number of people rather than by the number of parties.
Wilderness Camping Options
Trailside, Alpine and Crosscountry are your three options for camping zones. While the majority of hikers choose Trailside camps, Alpine and Crosscountry zones offer a unique wilderness experiences needing a higher degree of Leave No Trace understanding and practice.
Most backpackers prefer to use sites established by the National Park Service. Most camps have toilet facilities, marked sites, and a nearby water source. Camping along trails is permitted ONLY at the established trailside camps.
Within established crosscountry zones you choose your own campsite. All crosscountry sites must be at least 1/4 mile away from any road or established trail. Camps must also be at least 100 feet from lakes, streams, and other wetlands.
Crosscountry zones, like trail side zones, have limits on the number of parties allowed. All crosscountry zone permits issued between 15 May and 15 September are limited to parties of five people, or one immediate family (parents and children).
Between 01 October and 31 May when snow depth is greater than two feet, you choose your own campsite. Group size may number as many as twelve, more if you camp in the immediate Paradise area within ready access of restrooms. For more on winter camping call or write for information.
Alpine zones provide climbing and alpine hikers opportunities in areas above treeline, generally above 6,000 feet, or elsewhere on exposed rock, glaciers, and snowfields.
Camping is permitted only on permanent snow or ice or on bare ground areas previously used as campsite. DO NOT CLEAR TENT SITES ON ROCKY OR SNOW-FREE AREAS! Alpine plans depend on the shelter for rocks to survive. Of particular concern is the area within the boundaries of the Muir snowfield between Pebble Creek and Anvil Rock. Group size is limited to 12 for camping on snow and ice, and five for bare ground areas.
Anyone intending glacier travel or travel above 10,000 feet must purchase a climbing permit.
Regulations and Safety Tips - For your care and safety
The following items or activities are prohibited on the trails and in the backcountry of Mount Rainier National Park:
Leave No Trace
When traveling in the wilderness of Mount Rainier National Park and the rest of the Pacific Northwest you should be prepared to "Leave No Trace," or only minimal signs of your visit. The National Park Service is a cooperating agency in the Leave No Trace national educational program. Please incorporate the following ideas and practices into your planning and travel in the Northwest's wilderness area.
Plan ahead and Prepare
Camping and Travel on Durable Surfaces:
There are four guiding principles behind the Leave No Trace sanitation practices:
Waste water from cooking - Use hot water and elbow grease, not soap. Strain-out an pack-out food particles, and disperse water over a large area.
Waste water from washing - Avoid contaminating water supplies. If you feel soap necessary, lather up and rinse at least 200 feet from any water source.
Leave What You Find:
Approximately 100 miles of the parks 300 miles of trails are open to stock use, as are four trailside camps. The park is not often used by stock parties because:
Mount Rainier National Park is a popular place to enjoy winter camping. The mountain receives abundant snowfall, and the scenery is spectacular. Snows usually begin in earnest in late October or early November, and the snowpack lasts well into June. In order to help you enjoy this winter experience to its fullest, and to do it safely, we offer the following information.
Before Leaving Home
Most essentials for your winter camping trip are not available in the park, so make sure you are totally prepared before leaving home. Is your car in good working order and equipped with tire chains, that fit? Do you have enough food and fuel if weather forces you to stay out an extra night? Does everyone in the group have the proper clothing and camping gear? Have you tested your stove? Do you have good map and compass and know how to use them? A single critical item overlooked at home could make the difference between a memorable visit and an unpleasant experience you'd like to forget.
Enroute To Camp
Most winter camping in the park is done in the Paradise area (elev. 5400 feet), since road access there is maintained daily (weather permitting) by snowplows. The road to Paradise closes at Longmire daily at 4:30 pm for safety concerns and to facilitate plowing. It reopens the next morning, usually between 8:00 am and 11:00 am, depending on weather an snow conditions. So plan your trip to arrive at Longmire prior to 4:30 pm. If you camp anywhere above Longmire, do not travel on the road the next day until you have received clearance from a Ranger or you definitely know that the road had been opened to the public. Snowplows plow the center of the road in the morning and are not expecting any traffic on the road.
Obey all speed limit and traction device signing in the park - roads are steep, curvy, and often covered with snow and ice. Failure to conform to posted signing will result in a traffic citation. If you are unsure if you have proper snow tires, ask a Ranger for assistance. All vehicles should be equipped with tire chains that have been checked for proper fit. Weather conditions can change rapidly, and chains may be required to go downhill even though they were not required earlier. If you do need to chain up, do not stop in the roadway - use pullouts where you'll be safe. Carry a good shovel in your car also - after 1 or 2 nights out camping, you may have to dig your car out of a snow drift!
Winter driving on mountain roads can be extremely hazardous at times. Because of snowplowing requirements, you must park your vehicle in the designated overnight parking areas at Paradise and Narada Falls. These areas are signed and maps are available. Parking outside these areas will impede snowplowing operations, could cause an accident, and will definitely result in you having to dig your car out of the snow. If you are in a large group, try to car pool to minimize the number of vehicles - overnight parking space is limited. Remember, camping in vehicles anywhere except in drive-in campgrounds is prohibited. In the winter, Sunshine Point Campground is open for car camping. Regardless of where you park, avoid setting your emergency brake if possible - it may freeze solid.
Increase your safety by:
1. Reduce speed and using low gears, especially going downhill.
2. Brake with care. Pump your brakes rather than locking them up, which will definitely cause a skid.
3. Leave extra stopping distance between vehicles.
4. Be especially watchful of other vehicles and snowplows on the road.
5. Keep headlights on for better visibility.
Camping on snow is allowed almost anywhere in the park once enough snow has accumulated to protect plants. If you are unsure about good camping spots, ask a Ranger for help in selecting a suitable location. We encourage groups of 10 or more to check in with a Ranger so that large groups can be spread out rather than being concentrated in a small area. In general, tents, igloos, and snow caves must be erected at least 100 yard from any plowed road or parking lot to avoid being buried by snow plowers. Likewise, snow camps should be made out of sight of parking lots, snowplay areas, marked ski trails, and unplowed roads (popular ski routes). When you are done camping in your snow shelter, collapse or fill in completely. Un-collapsed snow caves or igloos can make hazardous traps for skiers and snowshoers.
To protect the park's resources and prevent unsightly or unsanitary conditions, we encourage all winter campers to practice clean, minimum impact camping
1. Cutting vegetation (e.g., tree boughs) is prohibited. Use sleeping pads for insulation instead.
2. Campfires are not allowed. The charcoal and unburned debris will melt out in an ugly mess in the spring. Gas cooking stoves are allowed.
3. Do not deposit human waste within 100 feet of streams or lakes. Large groups should provide their own means of packing human waste out of the backcountry.
4. Leave no litter in you camp - pack out everything you brought in. Litter is buried by subsequent snowfall, but it melts out in early summer in unsightly piles.
5. Pets are only allowed in the plowed parking lots and sidewalks, and must be on a leash. It is better to leave pets at home if you are going camping.
Although winter offers its our special rewards, it can also be a very hazardous time for the unprepared. Be aware that mountain weather often changes rapidly - pleasant outing can quickly be transformed into a survival ordeal. Navigation in harsh winter conditions can be extremely difficult if not impossible. It is usually better to camp and wait for clearing weather than it is to go on and risk getting lost or being caught in an avalanche. It's a good idea to sign a trail register or tell a Ranger where you're headed in case you do become lost in bad weather. Avalanches are common throughout the park. Learn how to recognize avalanche hazard forecasts, maps of areas to avoid, and general avalanche information. If someone in your group is buried, do you know what to do, and do you have probes and shovels necessary to rescue the victim?
Hypothermia has often been called the "killer of the unprepared." A combination of cold weather, wet snow, and wind can easily rob a person of essential body heat. If left untreated, hypothermia can lead to unconsciousness and death. Make sure your group is adequately clothed and prepared to prevent hypothermia. This means wearing wool or synthetics rather than cotton, having adequate wind and rain protection, having water-proofed boots, eating frequently, avoiding exhaustion, and seeking shelter from the elements.
Snow caves, tents and igloos can all be excellent shelters from the hostile weather outside, but they can also become killers themselves. Make sure that whatever shelter you're in, you have adequate ventilation to prevent being overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning. During snowy, windy conditions, this means going outside occasionally to dig out your tent, and to maintain air vents in igloos and snow caves. Cooking in shelters will consume oxygen rapidly, so it is especially important to maintain good ventilation at these times.
Sliding on the snow on innertubes or other sliding devices has led to numerous serious injuries and some fatalities in the park. For safety reasons, sliding is permitted only in the constructed runs at Paradise. Use of metal runner sleds and hard wood toboggans is not allowed anywhere in the park.
Skiing on plowed roadways is not only unsafe, it is illegal. Whether skiing or walking, stay off plowed roads where you are a vulnerable target for a snowplow or a car skidding out of control.
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