Crystal Mountain Offers Endless Summer Fun!
By Emma Brice
Crystal Mountain is most widely known as Washington’s largest ski and snowboard resort, offering some of the best snow and dynamic terrain in the state. While it’s a great spot to visit during the winter months, summer offers just as much beauty and adventure. With scenic gondola rides, mountaintop dining, hiking, and a close proximity to Mount Rainier, Crystal makes for a great day trip or a family weekend getaway. Crystal Mountain feels like a world away, but easy to get to with just a 2-hour drive from Seattle.
If you haven't experienced the Mt. Rainier gondola, you’ll definitely want to add it to your summer to-do list! Being the first and only gondola in Washington State, this is a fun and unique adventure for all ages to enjoy the breathtaking 360-degree views of the Cascade Range and Mount Rainier National Park. The scenic gondola operates daily until September 5th, and then weekends only from September 9th-25th.
The 13-minute scenic gondola ride takes you up 2,500 feet to the summit where you are greeted by close-up views of stunning Mount Rainier. At an elevation of 6,872 feet, don’t forget to stop by the Summit House for a bite to eat at Washington’s highest elevation restaurant. Surrounded by expansive views of alpine lakes, and five active volcanoes, the Summit House offers a unique, elevated dining experience unlike any other.
The restaurant offers lunch daily, along with special dinner series throughout the summer such as the Farm to Mountain dinners, Full Moon dinners and the Perseid Meteor Shower dinner. Dinner reservations are required, as these unique events sell out quickly.
The Farm to Mountain dinner series is one of the main events of the season and is hosted every Saturday through September 3rd. These dinners feature locally sourced, sustainable ingredients, and carefully curated menus to showcase the specialties and flavors of the Pacific Northwest. Each menu is intentionally designed to provide guests with a unique experience and the freshest ingredients. Guests upload the gondola around 5pm and are served a multi-course meal at the Summit House, accompanied with the breathtaking 360-degree views of Mount Rainier and surrounding peaks. The Full Moon dinners and the Perseid Meteor Shower dinner are intended to create an experience centered around the views and beauty of the mountain. Guests will receive a four-course meal while witnessing the moon rise above Mount Rainier or watching one of brightest meteor showers of the year. More information about the Summit House dinner experiences and how to make reservations can be found on the Crystal Mountain website.
Summer Events & Activities
Crystal Mountain offers a wide variety of summer events for the whole family to enjoy such as a Mountain Clean-Up, Mountain Art Class, Music Series, Trail Fest and much more! Crystal is also the host of Ragnar Trail Rainier, which they say is the most challenging Ragnar Relay race of them all due to elevation gain and total mileage across the resort.
Launched in July 2021, the one-and-only Crystal Sky Camp is a private mountaintop retreat offering an elevated glamping experience for groups during the summer. Crystal Sky Camp is accessed via two scenic chairlift rides surrounded by alpine views and wildflowers. From arrival to departure, guests are in for an adventure. The camp is designed for group buyout experiences and can accommodate 40-50 guests. Guests have the option to choose between a king premium tent, a king standard, a tent with three twin beds, or a tent with two twin beds. The king premium option includes a porch and stairs to access the tent. The king standard is situated on an elevated platform but does not include a porch. Each tent is equipped with wood-burning stoves, WiFi, wood floors, indoor/outdoor seating, and more. Private bathhouses with hot showers, flushing toilets, and sinks are located steps away from each tent, providing the comforts of an all-inclusive resort in a unique, elevated alpine setting.
As far as activities go, there is endless fun to be had! In addition to the miles of hiking trails of all ability levels, you can play a round of disc golf on the summit ridge line or take a guided horseback ride through the high alpine trails. Another option is to ride the scenic gondola up to the summit and enjoy a relaxing walk back down the mountain among the abundance of wildflowers, alpine lakes, wildlife, and stunning scenery. Hiking maps are available on Crystal Mountain’s website or can be picked up at guest services. Download the Crystal Mountain app for quick and convenient access.
Spending a few days exploring Crystal Mountain and Mount Rainier National Park is made easy with the variety of privately owned lodges, campgrounds, and vacation homes available along the way.
Crystal Mountain is located just two hours southeast of Seattle and is in close proximity to the Sunrise Visitor Center of Mount Rainier National Park, making it the perfect destination to explore the wonder of the Pacific Northwest and experience the staggering views of the Cascades.