#32 in Best Ski Resorts in the USA
Approximately two hours from Seattle next to Mount Rainier National Park, Crystal Mountain Resort is not a huge resort, but it is the largest ski resort in Washington with 2,600 acres of terrain and 11 lifts.
The mountain receives an annual snowfall of close to 500 inches and is known for its great backcountry and sidecountry access. Skiers and snowboarders will get more than 2,600 vertical feet going from Silver King (7,012 feet) to the base area (4,400 feet).
There’s a full range of customizable ski and snowboard lessons for every type of student whether its half-day, full-day, private, group, multi-day, or multi-week programs that are needed. Children ages 10 and under ski and snowboard for free. Regular ski and snowboard rental packages are available for $47 at the slope-side base area rental shop. Crystal Mountain also has rental options for those looking for high-Performance ski and snowboard packages. They are available at the East Peak Demo Center for $75 and feature brands like Rossignol, Salomon and Blizzard. Crystal Mountain is an Ikon Pass destination
In addition to fantastic skiing and snowboarding, Crystal Mountain offers scenic gondola rides and snowshoe tours. The summits offer unobstructed views of Mount Rainier.
The best time to go for crowd avoidance and the cheapest lift tickets is at night. Night skiing is available Friday through Sunday until 6 pm or 8 pm depending on the day. Mid-February to early March is considered peak ski season at Crystal Mountain. Shoulder and low season are from mid-March to the third weekend in April when the resort closes for the season.
Crystal Mountain adjusts their lift ticket pricing based on time of the season, so visitors who go mid- to late February will pay slightly more than visitors who go in April. And visitors who want to ski or snowboard on the weekends will pay more for their lift tickets than those who go weekdays. Night skiing offers the most affordable rates at $45 per ticket.
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There are nearly 60 ski runs at Crystal Mountain. Eleven percent are considered beginner, 54 percent are intermediate and 35 percent are advanced to expert runs. The longest run, Northway, is 2.5 miles long. Some of the trails are named for local legends who have made an impact on the Crystal Mountain community, like Wally’s Way, which is named for Wally Staatz who was one of the original investors in the mountain. Here are the best Crystal Mountain Resort trails for each skill level according to Tiana Anderson, the resort’s sales and marketing director.
Meadow, accessed by the Discovery Chair in the base area is the perfect slope for first-times and those just starting out. While Queen’s Run, accessed by the Forest Queen Express Chair is a great slope for those ready to practice what they’ve learned on the Meadow run.
Downhill, accessed by the Forest Queen Express Chair, has a gentle flow for those who like to cruise, and Quicksilver, accessed by the Quicksilver Chair is another great option for intermediate skiers and snowboarders and is also open for night skiing.
Middle Ferk’s, accessed by the Mt. Rainier Gondola or Rainier Express Chair and Exterminator , are not to be missed. Exterminator is an off-piste top-to-bottom run off of the Mt. Rainier Gondola is a great run to do after a big storm!”
There are six on-site hotel options at Crystal Mountain Resort. Alta Crystal Resort and the Silver Skis Chalet are close to the base area and have full kitchens, Wi-Fi, fireplaces, satellite television, hot tubs and heated pools. The Alpine Inn , Village Inn and Quicksilver Lodge are located at the base of Crystal Mountain and are ski-in/ski-out. The Village Inn has great balcony views. The Crystal Chalets are fully furnished condos that are located on a hill that overlooks the base of the mountain.
The Alpine Inn restaurant above the Snorting Elk has lamb shank, coconut curry, gluten-free pasta, and sauteed brie cheese on the menu. There’s also a Snorting Elk Deli that has pizza, burgers, nachos and schnitzels. The Bullwheel Restaurant and Bar has lighter fare with soups, salads and sandwiches, while the Summit House Restaurant is Washington’s highest-elevation restaurant. Pair the scenic views with the truffle fries or the poutine for maximum enjoyment. For some caffeine and a snack, try Chinook Cafe on the Chinook level of the Day Lodge. They serve grab-and-go food and fresh coffee.
For après, head to the Snorting Elk Cellar in the basement of the Alpine Inn for 18 taps of locally brewed beers, hot toddies, and pub food. This quaint, Bavarian-style bar is iconic and is known as one of the best apres ski bars in the U.S. It’s the perfect place to unwind with some schnitzels after working hard on the mountain all day.
The closest airport to Crystal Mountain is the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport. Crystal Mountain is 80 miles from downtown Seattle. Drive south on I-5 and take exit 142A to Auburn, follow Highway 164 to Enumclaw and Highway 410 East for 33 miles before entering Mount Rainier National Park. Then drive 6 miles up Crystal Mountain Boulevard to the resort.
There are midweek bus groups on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Bus groups go for consecutive weeks throughout the season and get access to discounted lift tickets.
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