This summer is Mount Rainier National Park’s busiest since 2003

ASHFORD — This summer was the busiest at Mount Rainier National Park since 2003.

And apparently many of those visitors brought along their tents, trailers, camp stoves, coolers and sleeping bags, pushing campground use more than 20 percent higher than in 2008.

Park statistics show more than 722,000 people visited the park June through August. That’s the highest total for the three-month summer season since 730,642 visited the park in 2003.

This summer’s recreational visits were up 5.6 percent compared with last summer.

Part of the increase can be attributed to three weekends in which the $15 park entrance fee was waived.

“Those fee-free weekends were among our busiest,” said Randy King, acting park superintendent. “We were seeing another 500 to 600 cars a day those (free) weekends compared to the other weekends.”

The other draw was the great summer weather in late June and through July.

“If the sun shines, life is good. We had a great summer here in the Northwest and as a result park visitation is up,” King said.

“The weather is a huge factor here, with about 60 percent of our visitation originating in the Puget Sound region,” he said.

“If people wake up and can see the mountain from home, they come. If they can’t see it, they stay home.”

Further evidence that folks were opting to spend part of their summer at the park can be seen in overnight stay numbers.

The number of people staying at the park’s campgrounds through August was 68,623, up 21.7 percent from 2008. The number of backcountry stays also was up, 10.1 percent to 33,077 people.

“With the economy, people are trying to recreate closer to home,” King said. “Camping is probably one of the most affordable things people can do recreationally.”

While overnight stays at the park’s two inns are down 8.1 percent, it has still been a good season, said David Wilde, general manager of Guest Services Inc., which runs the Paradise and National Park inns.

“People are very value oriented and we anticipated that,” he said. “We had lowered our menu prices and that has helped. Overall, revenues are about the same as last year, thanks to the increase in the volume.”

Talk to us

More in Local News

Caption: South Whidbey High School students Annie Philp, left, and Maggie Nattress lead a climate change demonstration in Freeland on Nov. 29, 2019. The two friends are founders of United Student Leaders. (Linda LaMar)
From worriers to warriors, they’re fighting climate change

Local environmental groups are forming, growing and attracting new members, young and old.

Norton Playfield, a three-acre play field owned by Housing Hope on Thursday, July 23, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Vote nears on Housing Hope’s Everett playfield project

The Everett City Council will deliberate Wednesday on the multi-family, supportive housing proposal.

Man shot while pumping gas in Everett

A man in his mid-40s refused another’s demand for his wallet. The victim was hospitalized.

Scott Eastman
Acting Mill Creek police chief’s layoff came with $24k payout

The city admitted no fault in its agreement with Scott Eastman, who wasn’t picked as permanent chief.

Two teens shot near Mill Creek, taken to hospitals

The males, 17 and 18, were in a vehicle when two males approached and got into an altercation.

Pedestrian seriously injured in hit-and-run in Everett

He was expected to survive. A 31-year-old woman was later booked into jail as a suspect.

Driver hits, critically injures pedestrian in Everett

A driver hit a male who ran across the road Saturday night but stayed there and spoke with police.

The Arlington City Council will discuss asking voters to consider annexing its fire department to North County Fire & EMS. (North County Fire)
Arlington and North County Fire to consider annexation

If the Arlington City Council decides to move forward, voters would make the final decision.

People in dinosaur costumes greet each other during Downtown Trick-or-Treating on Oct. 31, 2019 in Everett, Wash. Health officials have discouraged trick-or-treating this year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Halloween cloaked in caution, trick-or-treating discouraged

As Snohomish Health District offers tips for safer fun, some still plan to hand out candy to kids.

Most Read