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Mount Rainier from Tolmie Peak, northwest Mount Rainier National Park. (Flickr Photo / Jonathan Miske)

Washington’s iconic Mount Rainier is finally joining the 21st century.

After years of having to fax or mail in reservation requests to camp in Mount Rainier National Park, wilderness enthusiasts will soon be able to submit requests online, The National Park Service announced this week.

The new system will launch on March 15 and was created in a partnership with the University of Washington Information School.

Last year, thousands of requests couldn’t be processed after a March storm damaged the existing 16-year-old reservation system. A backup battery was damaged when the storm knocked out power, corrupting the system’s software, park superintendent Randy King told The News Tribune news paper in Tacoma last year. Instead, permits had to be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Reservations are required for anybody hoping to camp or hike in the park’s wilderness areas, including the popular Wonderland Trail. The park typically receives more than 2,000 reservation requests in the first two weeks of the season, according to the National Park Service, and the first requests are processed randomly by two rangers. Any requests that arrive after April 1 are processed in the order they are received.

The switch to an online permitting system is just the first step the Park Service is taking to upgrade the reservation system, park officials said in a statement.

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