Timed Entry Reservations at Mt. Rainier National Park

It's nothing to get too anxious about. Most areas of the Park are still free, and require no reservations!

As you might know, Mt. Rainier National Park is introducing a timed entry reservation system to mitigate overcrowding in the most popular areas of the Park this summer. That means you're gonna need a reservation if you plan to visit the Sunrise or Paradise sections of the Park.

It's nothing to get anxious about.

For starters, the Park is hardly your only option for experiencing the sublime beauty of the South Cascades. We’ve been telling people for years that the landscapes and recreational opportunities surrounding Mt. Rainier National Park are just as impressive as those inside. Those of you who followed our tips were rewarded with more solitude, less frustration, fewer traffic/parking headaches, and more money in your pockets.

Fido was probably grateful as well: he's never allowed anywhere inside the Park.

The High Rock Lookout sits right on the periphery of Mt. Rainier National Park. No fees, no reservations required!

That said, we would never recommend skipping the Park altogether. It’s a national treasure, and it's one of the nation's most popular parks for good reason. It’s also vast, and nobody who fails to explore every nook and cranny within its 370 square miles should feel the slightest bit cheated. Most of you don’t have nearly the time or stamina to explore every popular section anyway; but even if you did, you’d forgo all the equally stunning destinations in the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area, the Pacific Crest Trail, Mt. St. Helens and Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

If you’ve got your heart set on visiting the Park this summer, here’s what you need to know:

  • Most of the Park is actually accessible without reservations or fees. You read that right: all of the hikes along Highways 165, 410, 123 and Skate Creek Drive—the North, East and South sides of the Park, respectively—are free!
  • The only sections of the Park where reservations and fees are required are Paradise and Sunrise. Both are stunning, but even midweek, it’s hard to imagine a situation where these areas don’t have a bit of an amusement park vibe. For all but the most diligent hikers, solitude is out of the question.
  • If you didn't make reservations in advance, you'll still be able to make them starting at 7:00 PM (Pacific) for next-day entry, available on a rolling basis.
  • The most breathtaking views of Rainier—the ones that usually blow up your Instagram feed every summer around wildflower season—are at Tipsoo Lake and Chinook Pass. No fees or reservations required!

The Naches Peak Loop at Chinook Pass: no fees, no reservations required!

Bottom line: there’s truly no good reason to let this reservation system come between you and an unforgettable visit to Mt. Rainier National Park this summer.

If you're staying with us, you’ll have a library of hiking and outdoor recreation references at any of our five cabins: hiking books, topo maps, and recommendations from us on breathtaking destinations in the area that most locals haven’t even discovered.