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After 39 years, Mt Rainier National Park shuts out iconic RAMROD bike event

Terrain Map with the 2023 RAMROD route along with an elevation chart.
Map of the 2023 RAMROD route, from the Redmond Cycling Club.

It’s one of the most difficult and beautiful one-day bike rides you’ll find anywhere on earth, and hundreds of people have been taking on the challenge every summer (except 2020) since 1984. The Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day (“RAMROD”) is 150 miles long and includes 10,000 feet of climbing, but that grueling physical feat takes place on roads both within and outside the bounds of Mount Rainier National Park.

But the event’s 40th anniversary is in peril after the National Park Service denied access to roads within the southern part of the park, effectively cancelling the 2024 ride. Organizers at the Redmond Cycling Club said that the NPS decided RAMROD was no longer a “necessary and appropriate use.” The Club says they have attempted to “collaboratively understand the underlying issue and address concerns,” but have so far been unsuccessful.

The route begins and ends in Enumclaw, and roads remain open to traffic during the ride. As a road cycling event, RAMROD does not use off-road trails, where cycling is typically banned within the park. Specifically, the NPS has rejected access to the beautiful and remote Paradise and Stevens Canyon Roads, and the ride can’t feasibly exist without them. I have reached out to Mount Rainier National Park to ask why they denied access and will update when I hear back.


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The club is not giving up, though. They have started an effort to engage Washington State’s elected federal officials in hopes that they can help bring NPS to the table to find a solution that allows the event to continue. The club is asking people to contact Senator Patty Murray, Representative Kim Schrier and Mount Rainier National Park to voice support for the ride and encourage a solution that keeps the iconic tradition going. They are also “keeping the leadership team active for the possibility that the Park reverses their decision and enough time remains to allow us and cyclists to prepare properly,” according to their website. The latest they could start registrations with enough time to properly organize the summertime event is April, the club said. Action will need to come fast to save the 2024 event.

More details from Redmond Cycling Club:

On the eve of what would have marked RAMROD’s 40th anniversary and the anticipated lottery opening, it is with profound sadness, that we share the news of RAMROD’s unexpected discontinuation in 2024.

Despite our anticipation for RAMROD 2024 and a return to our traditional route within Mount Rainier National Park, we received notice that our event is no longer deemed ‘necessary and appropriate use.’ Access to the southern roads within the Park is denied despite our attempts to collaboratively understand the underlying issue and address concerns.

RAMROD has always been more than just a cycling event: it’s a wonderful fusion of non-commercialism, an event by cyclists for cyclists, and a pure celebration of the human spirit in the breathtaking beauty of Mount Rainier. Across four decades, we’ve adjusted the ride and its route to honor reasonable requests from the Park and to increase safety for all involved. With the permanent loss of access to Paradise and Stevens Canyon roads, which are the heart of the RAMROD experience in Mount Rainier National Park, we can no longer offer the world-class experience that has earned RAMROD its reputation in US cycling and drawn thousands to celebrate triumphs and create enduring memories.

We want you to know, that the Redmond Bicycle Club Board is not resigned to this decision. We’ve hired a public affairs specialist and initiated conversations with Rep. Kim Schrier’s office while reaching out to US Senator Patty Murray. The Board is committed to exhausting every avenue to keep RAMROD alive.

Your support is crucial in the fight to restore RAMROD. Please reach out to Rep. Schrier and Senator Murray’s offices, expressing your desire to see RAMROD continue. We’ll also be engaging with the media and other bicycle organizations. An announcement on our progress is scheduled for March 15th, 2024.

Thank you for being a part of our RAMROD community and for your patience with this process. We’re cyclists, and by our nature, we’re also optimists when tackling tough climbs or this challenge. We remain committed to expanding the positive impact that cycling can bring to individuals and our communities.

Joe Matthews
President, Redmond Cycling Club

Additional Information

To contact US Senator Patty Murray’s office, use this Write to Patty form.

To contact US Rep. Kim Schrier’s office, use this Email Me form.

To share feedback with Mount Rainier National Park, visit their contact page

Visit our updated faq for additional information information.


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Comments

25 responses to “After 39 years, Mt Rainier National Park shuts out iconic RAMROD bike event”

  1. dave

    What a bummer

  2. Gordon

    I wish Rainier National Park would have scheduled car-free days like Crater Lake does https://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/vehicle-free-days-on-east-rim-drive.htm

    1. Ryan

      I wish Lake Crescent had one of these

  3. DOUG.

    How ironic. The number of RVs clogging up the roads of Mt Rainier have made the park one to avoid, but somehow bikes are a problem?

    1. KRhea

      best comment doug!

      1. Paul Neil Rylander

        Yeah ! Really? Bummer! I did the tide at age 62 in 2002. Great memory!

  4. Mike Merritt

    I don’t think RAMROD was ever a favorite of the NPS. I did it a few times years ago, and I know past RCC leadership had to work hard to negotiate with park officials to keep the ride going. Wondering on what basis the judgment was that the ride was not a “necessary and appropriate use” that did not impede traffic or interfere with park activities.

  5. Steve Fors

    The superintendent needs to be reminded he works for us, the public! Park was shut down weekdays for a while. They say we can’t sled in the sledding area. Many of these things were due to staffing issues, I say reduce the superintendents.pay until he keeps the park open. The parks seem to really feel like it is theirs and they would prefer we stay away.
    I would run the event if they don’t come around. It is our park and our roads

    1. Jess

      I’m definitely curious about whether this is a staffing issue. I have known someone who worked USFS recreation in WA and staffing recreation during the summer was really difficult because it didn’t pay as well as some other departments, and was really stressful due to the high volume traffic.

  6. Justin

    The mountain is angry with us. They are trying their best to appease her. They fear her, as should the rest of us.

    1. KRhea

      if the mountain is angry it’s not because of human powered bicycles riding her flanks it’s because of the endless lines of RVs, cars and trucks belching and spewing pollutants across her glorious landscape.

  7. Joel

    I live in Texas and had planned to travel to Seattle purposefully to do the ride. My trip would generate >$5000 in local economic impact (hotel for the week, rental car, restaurant meals, supplies, etc.). I’m sure there are others who too were planning to travel in for the ride. The economic impact of this decision by the NPS is not inconsequential. It’s too bad they won’t even discuss with the organizers why they made their decision and how the ride could be held in a safe and satisfactory way. I hope the National Park Service reconsiders their position.

    1. Jf

      Not really. Have you seen the crowds in an average summer (or winter, for that matter) day?

  8. Tom S

    I rode RAMROD twice in recent years. The Park is mostly empty on Thursday morning when the vast majority of riders pass through. It’s the only time I would ever consider cycling through the Park.

    What an iconic ride! I’ll never forget the feeling of flying descending Stevens Canyon Road.

  9. Larry

    Are bikes and cars prohibited on the day of the planned event? No? Then just show up and do the ride with your own support. Do this as a form of protest.

    1. Rich

      Cars are prohibited unless pre-registered. Bikes *may* be allowed who knows they change the rules every month. This whole time entry system is BS. The NPS needs to share best practices across parks which CLEARLY is not happening.

      1. Larry

        So it’s not possible anymore to simply drive up to an entrance and go in without some sort of reservation?

  10. Mike Brown

    I am from Washington and live in Virginia and was planning on traveling back for the ride. So much for contributing to the local economy.

  11. Mike

    What about increasing the entry fee by $20 and have that additional $16,000 got to NPS to cover the cost of the inconvenience of our ride? I would be willing to pay an extra $15 to keep the ride going as scheduled

  12. Bethany

    Who are these people running the park that denies the tax payer to OUR park? Especially if there is no off road environmental risks at play. 39 years is a heck of a precedent to ignore!!

  13. Karen MIX

    wondering if this has anything to do with the new advanced entrance application they are starting towards everyone this year. If you want to enter the park, you have to apply months ahead. There will be limited daily lottery entrances granted as well..
    Other National parks are doing this..Glacier is one of them.

  14. Dan

    Pissed off about this. I got an entry in the lottery in 2020, but that ride was canceled due to COVID. Life ensued, and this is the first year since then I’ve been able to commit to the training. I’ve been cranking away on my trainer since December in hopes that I win the lottery again, and when I went to enter the lottery, I found the ride had been cancelled. Definitely planning on showing up and riding my bike in a national park, official event or no.

  15. John

    An email reply I got from the park stated in part that they would approve a route that was used in 2022 and 2023, which goes to Packwood from Ashford then up highway 123. I think RCC was hoping for the original route for the 40th anniversary. I volunteered last year and drove the route, its a little rough and not as scenic on highway 52, but it did go around the mountain. If you do contact the park or your representatives, I would suggest a civil tone to your communication, getting angry when asking for something doesn’t accomplish much, IMHO.

    1. Philip

      John, I was about to say that makes no sense, but looking into it, it looks like you’re right.

      @Tom, per John’s comment, the article would be clearer about the stakes to me if went into how long the route has gone through Packwood and why it’s not acceptable anymore. I see your more recent article does say that the organizers want to move from Skate Creek Road back onto Stevens Canyon Road and some reasoning. It’s unclear why that desire led to cancellation–for example, was it supposed to be a temporary reroute and the Park has moved to make it permanent? Is the desire to use the Park’s southern road a strategy to make the event accessible to a broader audience (by getting back off of US-12) and to grow cyclists’ interest in MRNP? In other words, why not hold the event *and* keep lobbying for a safer route? I’m sure there is a reason I’ve missed somewhere and I bet it’s a good one.

      Regardless of its exact significance, the route through the park is obviously better, so I’m writing my representatives to get the approval moving too! The page we’re on is the main news source to refer them to :)

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        Our follow-up has more details: https://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2024/03/17/rep-schrier-presses-mt-rainier-park-to-work-with-ramrod/

        The short version is that Stevens Canyon Rd was under construction, so they had no choice other than to detour, and it was “not workable.” Many riders said they didn’t want to do it again and the organizers don’t, either. You can deal with a detour like that if it’s temporary and unavoidable. But this year it is avoidable.

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