There still are rooms available at Paradise Inn

There still are plenty of open nights to stay at Paradise Inn, which opens at noon Friday. That is expected this time of year, especially when 171 inches of snow covers the ground at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park. But it is unusual that there still are rooms available during peak summer weekends.

“Reservations are down; it’s the economy,” said Pam Newlun, sales manager for Rainier Guest Services, the company that runs Paradise Inn and National Park Inn at Longmire.

“I think it will pick up, but I also think many people will wait till the last moment,” Newlun said. “By this time last year, we had a lot of dates filled up. This year, we have openings every day.”

This weekend also marks the debut of an artist-in-residence program at the inn. Newlun said they were looking for a different type of program to offer visitors.

The first artist will be Dale C. Thompson, who hand painted the lamp shades that adorn the inn’s multistory lobby. Thompson, a former chief naturalist at the park who lives in Eatonville, will give presentations at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Visitors still have to contend with lots of snow on the ground, more than 14 feet, but roads and parking lots are in good shape. Drivers are reminded of the one-lane restriction around a damaged section of roadway on Glacier Hill, said acting park superintendent Randy King. Repairs are expected to begin about June 22.

Noting that 2 feet of snow fell at Paradise last week, Newlun was encouraged by a weekend forecast calling for partly sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s for the South Sound.

“It’s always nice to open on a weekend where you’re not dealing with a blizzard,” she said laughing. “People aren’t going to make the drive this time of year if they aren’t sure the weather is going to be nice.”

Jeffrey P. Mayor, The News Tribune

Reservations for Paradise Inn: