Crystal Mountain:
Not Just a Winter Destination

By Erica Kutz

Crystal Mountain is best known as Washington’s largest ski and snowboard resort, and while it’s a great spot to visit during the winter months, summer can be a whole new adventure. With plenty of outdoor activities and a close proximity to Mount Rainier, it’s a great day trip or a weekend getaway just a hop, skip and jump from Seattle. If you’re new to the Seattle area or visiting from out of town, Crystal is just a beautiful 1.5 hour drive from Seatac International Airport.

The resort in close proximity to the Sunrise Visitor Center, the highest elevation in the park you can access easily by car, making it the perfect location for people looking to explore the area — soaking in the gorgeous, sweeping views.

If geography is not your strong suit or you are new to Washington, Crystal Mountain is located southeast of Seattle and is situated on the northeast corner of Mt. Rainier National Park. The resort in close proximity to the Sunrise Visitor Center, the highest elevation in the park you can access easily by car, making it the perfect location for people looking to explore the area — soaking in the gorgeous, sweeping views.

A quick 10-minute gondola ride with sweeping views of Mt. Rainier takes you to the top of Crystal Mountain Resort

Located at the top of the gondola, guests can savor classic Pacific Northwest cuisine at Summit House Restaurant. Serving lunch and dinner at 6,872 ft.

In roughly 10 minutes, the scenic gondola ride takes you up about 2,500 feet, to an elevation of 6,872 feet, arriving right in front of the best view of Mt. Rainier. No trip is complete without a stop in the Summit House Restaurant for a quick bite to eat, located at the top of the Mt. Rainier Gondola. As the highest elevation restaurant in Washington, the views of the surrounding peaks and valleys are breathtaking. 

A new menu for the summer of 2019 was inspired by the broad sweeping cascadian scenery — of pasture, land and sea. Select from an array of classic Pacific Northwest menu items — such as a cold-smoked sockeye salmon, smoked trout, and steelhead charcuterie board. If seafood is not your first choice, there are many other delicious menu items such as a summer berry salad, wild mushroom pot pie, and a bison burger.

From the patio deck and dining room of the Summit House Restaurant, you’re surrounded by beautiful alpine peaks and can see five active and glaciated volcanoes on a clear day. The restaurant offers lunch daily June 21st – September 15th and dinner on Friday and Saturday nights during peak season. The restaurant also offers some special events such as a Seafood Extravaganza, Full Moon Wine Dinner, Elysian Brewmaster Dinner and even a Fungi Dinner for mushroom lovers. Dinner reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online.

There are activities for nearly every member of the family during the warm, summer days —  enjoy horseback riding, disc golf and hiking through alpine meadows and wild flowers on the mountain.

Kids young and old will thrill as the gondola climbs 2,500 ft up the mountain with unparalleled views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Range. Find hiking trails, picnic tables, and more at the top.

Crystal Mountain hosts a variety of summer events for maximum adventure including a Yoga and Wellness Festival in July that will feature a selection of yoga classes, workshops, nutritional workshops, guest speakers, live music, guided hikes and more. The 10th annual Wine Festival will be held at the Alpine Inn Restaurant in July, and then before fall comes back around — a celebration of everything that’s great about living in the Northwest will take place at the Harvest & Brew Festival in September. 

Crystal Mountain is also the host to Ragnar Rainier for those who enjoy a hardcore challenge, and a Mountain High Disc Golf Tournament. When it comes to activities, there is no shortage of fun to be had! Book a guided horseback ride through Chinook Pass Outfitters or play a round of disc golf along the summit ridge. 

There are miles of hiking trails that start at the base and climb to the summit. You can also take a ride on the gondola to the top and enjoy a leisurely hike down the mountain as you pass through beautiful alpine lakes and acres of wildflowers. Don’t forget to bring your bug spray! Hiking maps can be found on Crystal Mountain’s website or download the Crystal Mountain App for an interactive version.

There are a variety of privately owned lodging options, making it easy to call Crystal Mountain your “home-base” while spending a few days exploring Crystal Mountain and Mt. Rainier National Park.

More details can be found on the website at CrystalMountainResort.com

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