Visitor Use Management Plan for the Nisqually to Paradise Road Corridor
The Nisqually to Paradise road corridor provides access to Mount Rainier National Park, offering visitors the opportunity to engage with the most glaciated peak in the continental United States and stunning cultural landscapes. The purpose of this planning process is to identify opportunities for visitors to safely use, experience, and enjoy the park and to develop strategies to concurrently protect resources. The plan will examine management options to support health and human safety, and to enhance the protection of natural, cultural, and scenic resources and values, while providing visitors with opportunities to be inspired through personal connections with those resources. This planning process will establish the framework to plan for and manage the flow of visitors in the at key destinations along this roadway corridor- particularly during peak visitation months.
Where is the Nisqually Corridor?
The Nisqually Corridor is a term used to describe a popular year-round transportation corridor in the southwestern section of the park on Paradise Road, starting at the Nisqually Entrance near Ashford, WA, and ending at Paradise. The roads along the Nisqually Corridor are significant cultural and historic resources and lie within the Mount Rainier National Historic Landmark District. Surrounding the road corridor are remarkable natural resources and vast areas of federally designated wilderness. The Nisqually Corridor Management Plan will address issues related to visitor experience and resource protection throughout this corridor.
Why is this plan needed?
This plan is needed to meet the changing needs of park visitors and to support positive visitor experiences in a sustainable manner. Mount Rainier grows in popularity each year and experienced a 30% increase in visitation between 2008 and 2018. In fact, 70% of annual visitation occurs between July and September, and most use is concentrated in a small number of destinations such as Paradise and the Paradise-area trails. While the park has evaluated some transportation and congestion challenges occurring over the last decade, this corridor management plan is needed to address the following current issues within the Nisqually Corridor:
Roadway congestion on Highway 706 and Paradise Road. Visitors currently experience wait times of more than an hour to enter the park through the Nisqually Entrance Station on busy days, causing congestion both inside and outside of the park. Roadway congestion also occurs within the park at popular trailheads, which leads to parking in undesignated areas and pedestrian safety concerns due to limited roadway visibility. Reducing congestion will enhance visitor experience of this historic roadway and improve visitor access to recreation opportunities.
What will the plan consider?
The plan will consider key issues related to visitor experiences, natural and cultural resource protection, and vehicular crowding and congestion along the historic road from the Nisqually Entrance station to Paradise. The planning process will provide recommendations for supporting high- quality public access to this area of the park while providing protection for natural and cultural resources and decades of positive visitor experiences.