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MRNP Proposed Timed Entry Reservations

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by Kyle M on 6/13/23 9:45pm

Not a TR, but a relevant issue that should concern the ski community, especially TAYers.


Mount Rainier National Park is considering a timed entry reservation system. We have a few more weeks to comment. The Cascade Backcountry Alliance has been at meetings with the Park representing backcountry skiers. We put together a post summarizing the proposal and how you can make a difference. Please try to take the time to at least read through this post and comment here, or on the blog post itself, with any thoughts and feedback. Or even make a comment to MRNP yourself.

Thank you!

The Cascade Backcountry Alliance blog post (linked above) is well written and raises lots of interesting questions and concerns about MRNP's favored approach to solving the summer parking problem. The important thing the Backcountry Alliance does, in my mind, is address the concerns of the community of local skiers, climbers and hikers who visit the Park frequently and who's adventures take them far beyond the parking lots of Paradise and Sunrise. The concern of the Backcountry Alliance, and I'm sure of many TAY'ers, is there will be unintended consequences impacting backcountry users when MRNP implements its new policies to combat overcrowding.  

Give the blog post a read and please, if you haven't already, provide feedback to Park managers. 

Thanks for taking a leadership role in this, Kyle and others. Comment submitted to MRNP. I support Alternative 2: Corridor Level Access Management and have advocated for online permit pickup as part of the change. The only bad part of skiing up there is having to drive in at peak hours to pick up the permit.

Many thanks for the Cascade Backcountry Alliance link, an excellent summary!

This timed reservation system will exclude the 'Three Percenters.'  No, not the fascist militia group, rather the
last slice of Americans without cell phones.  I've never even used one, let alone owned one  :o)

Even with a lifetime park pass, a #10/day reservation fee is not so "small" for those of us trying to live on a
$50/day fixed income.  It's especially annoying to have to pay it to a corrupt corporation like Booz-Allen!

It makes sense for those holding camping or climbing permits to not need a separate entry reservation.  Also for
hotel guests and guide service clients, though it also tilts the system in favor of the well-off.  I presume entry
slots would be free for volunteers as well, but this seems like there would be some potential for abuse...

The earlier online meeting video had the planners talking about 'over-selling' permits to anticipate no-shows.  
Seems like there might be less resource damage (the supposed goal of this boondoggle) by not trying to maximize
visitation every day!  The no-show percentage here is likely to vary with the weather.  The entrance station
efficiency will vary with the percentage of 'show-no's', those unaware of the reservation system.

This scheme will cause changes in visitor behavior. Some will plan to arrive earlier than permit time and stay most of the
day, reducing parking turnover. Many without entry permits will tend to stay outside the entrance booths in the
understaffed eastern quarter of the park, further damaging the vegetation and water quality at Tipsoo Lake and
turning the shoulders of SR 123 & 410 into parking lots at every trailhead.  Additional LEO personnel will surely
be needed.

The proposed Cougar Rock shuttle parking is too small (100 cars) to help Paradise crowding much. It would also have
asymmetric demand,, mostly downhill in the evening.  Cougar Rock (& Longmire, for that matter) is in a USGS high-
hazard zone for lahars.  Dead-end destinations such as Mowich, Sunrise & Westside Road are where shuttles would be
most effective, if USFS parking could be arranged outside the boundaries.

A more useful Paradise shuttle would run from the Picnic Area & Valley Road overflow parking to the Visitor Center.
The safety hazards of people walking up the Valley Road might be sharply reduced by reversing the one-way direction
for both arriving visitors & shuttles when the main lots fill.  Fourth Crossing and the northern part of Paradise
Valley are gerrymandered out of the designated Wilderness and additional parking could be constructed there if all
else fails.

I see this as a full-time 'solution' to a part-time problem.  The park needs to show how many days there is an
entrance wait and the average delay on those days. It's hard to imagine there would be a need for timed entry
reservations in the winter.  Unreliable openings and early closings of the Paradise road have cut winter visitation
by half since the 70's. 

Reply to this TR

Kyle M
2023-06-14 04:45:27