Finding Paradise for Free

Ashleyanna Rivers, 5, a student at Rochester Primary School, and her baby sister Emmie Rivers, 1, enjoy sledding on a short slope near Longmire at Mount Rainier a week ago. The Rivers family was taking advantage of the recent three-day weekend and a free pass to the national park. The next time when the $15 entrance fee per vehicle will be waived is April 16-24 during National Park Week. The famous Paradise Inn is still closed and won’t open until May 20, but Longmire is open year round including a museum, and the road from Longmire up to Paradise is usually open during the winter, although it does close and is gated each night. For road conditions, call (360) 569-2211. While Paradise Inn is closed, the newly-opened $21.2 million Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise is open weekends and holidays. Paradise is worthy of a winter visit, with opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding. Chains or all-wheel drive vehicles are required starting half-way up to Paradise from Longmire. (Michael Wagar / mwagar@chronline.com)
A red fox, known as a “silver phase” red fox with its charcoal-colored fur, was out people watching last week in the parking lot of the National Park Inn restaurant and hotel at Longmire. The national park is home to about 54 species of mammals, and several of the red foxes were seen during a day trip to Paradise. (Michael Wagar / mwagar@chronline.com)