Q: One U.S. national park boasts that it contains “the snowiest place on Earth where snow is regularly recorded.” This picturesque spot even saw a whopping 93.5 feet of the white stuff one record-setting winter. Can you name this winter wonderland of a national park?
A: I know what you’re thinking: This wintry place must be somewhere in Alaska, perhaps in one of the handful of national park sites above the Arctic Circle. At least, that’s what I thought. I was wrong.
It turns out the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State wins the prize, having averaged more than 640 inches of snow per year between 1920 and 2011, with a record total of 1,122 inches over the winter of 1971-72. The largest amount ever recorded on the ground at one time was 357 inches, or nearly 30 feet, in March 1955. That’s taller than four Shaquille O’Neals standing on each other’s shoulders!
Compare this to the 81 inches of snow recorded in an average winter at Denali National Park or the 70 to 80 inches on average at Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, and the competition isn’t even close.
For those who love to ski and snowshoe, Paradise is an apt description of this high-elevation region on Mount Rainier’s south slope. The name actually refers to a different natural phenomenon, however: the colorful profusion of wildflowers that grow every summer as a result of all that precipitation.
See the weather conditions from the comfort of your computer via the park’s webcams at www.nps.gov/mora/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.
About the author
Jennifer Errick Managing Editor of Online Communications
Jennifer writes, edits, and moderates online content for NPCA.