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Winter recreation activities abound at Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga announced last week that the Paradise snowplay area is open for the season.

The snowplay area is immediately north of the upper parking lot at Paradise. Sliding and sledding in the park is permitted only in this designated area. Snowplay runs are supervised daily by park rangers from December through Jan. 2, then on weekends and holidays from Jan. 8 through March 27.

Visitors may use the sled runs when the area is not staffed, but the runs are not groomed during the week. For current snowplay status, contact the Longmire Museum at 1-360-569-2211 ext. 3314.

Due to the high potential for personal injury and frequency of accidents, no other park areas are open to sliding activities. Serious injuries have occurred when people mistakenly slide over waterfalls, into trees and down slopes that are too steep.

For safety reasons there are a few guidelines people must use.

Only inner tubes, plastic sleds, saucers or other soft sliding devices can be used. No wooden toboggans, runner sleds with metal edges or other hard devices are permitted.

Compressed air is available at the rock restroom tunnel across the plaza from the new Jackson Visitor Center when snowplay rangers are present.

Visitors are encouraged to check to make sure the run is clear before starting their slide. Collisions may cause serious injury.

Visitors should dress warmly and in layers with a wicking fabric such as wool or polypropylene next to the skin and a waterproof outer layer.

The snowplay area is usually closed by 4:30 p.m.

Snowshoe walks are also available at this time. Organized groups of 13 to 25 people may reserve a snowshoe walk in advance.

The walks cover approximately 1.5 miles and last up to two hours. Snowshoes are provided or visitors may use their own. A donation of $4 per person is asked to help defray the cost of snowshoe maintenance.

The walks are offered daily until Jan. 2. From Jan. 8 through March 27 the walks will be conducted on weekends and holidays only.

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