A quick 10-minute gondola ride with sweeping views of Mt. Rainier takes you to the top of Crystal Mountain Resort.
Think Crystal Mountain for Summer Fun!
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.
If you’re looking to explore the Mt. Rainier National Park, then the Mt. Rainier Gondola might need to be added to your summer to-do list. The Mt. Rainier Gondola operates daily from June 21st to September 15th and offers the best views of the Cascade Mountains in a full 360-degree view. Being the first and only gondola in Washington state, this is a unique and fun trip to take with your friends and family members of all ages.
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
As the highest elevation restaurant in Washington, the views of the surrounding peaks and valleys from the Summit House Restaurant 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.
Check out these summer events
Crystal Mountain hosts a variety of summer events for maximum adventure- this summer there was a Yoga and Wellness Festival in July that featured a selection of yoga classes, workshops, guided hikes and more. The 10th annual Wine Festival at the Alpine Inn Restaurant was in July as well. This September, a celebration of everything that’s great about living in the Northwest will take place at the Harvest & Brew Festival. Crystal Mountain is also the host to Ragnar Rainier for those who enjoy a hardcore challenge, and a Mountain High Disc Golf Tournament.
Outdoor recreation in the shadow of Mount Rainier
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.
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 is in close proximity to the Sunrise Visitor Center, the highest elevation in the park that you can access easily by car, making it the perfect location for people looking to explore the area—soaking in the gorgeous, sweeping views.
More details can be found on the website at CrystalMountainResort.com