Crystal Mountain Ski Resort

Crystal Mountain Ski Resort Washington
Crystal Mountain WA
Crystal Mountain Resort WA
Crystal has some amazing terrain for experts
Amazing views from Crystal WA
Crystal Mountain Ski Resort
Crystal Mountain continues to upgrade the lift infrastructure
Sidecountry type terrain at Crystal Mountain WA
Finding fresh snow a couple of days after a storm
The base at Crystal Mountain is reasonably compact
Views of Rainier
Powder skiing at Crystal Mountain 2 days post storm
Nice mellow slopes near the base
Apres ski can be vibrant but the nightlife is generally sedate
Skiing Crystal Mountain Washington
Short hikes take you to tasty terrain
Snorting Elk Cellar often goes off on the weekends
The Crystal Mountain snow quality varies significantly
Tasty treats galore at Crystal WA
Plenty of gorgeous terrain

Crystal Mountain Ski Resort

Readers Ratings

Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain3.5/59
Crystal Mountain3.5 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    89%
Wagner Custom Skis

Other Washington Ski Resorts

Stevens Pass Ski Resort
Mt Baker Ski Area
The Crystal Mountain Ski Resort leaves you wondering how is it that such a great ski hill can be relatively unknown and unpatronised outside of Washington State. Catering mainly for the Seattle crowd, Crystal Mountain is a quasi destination resort that has largely avoided the over development that is evident in some of the other western states.

Crystal Mountain WA has masses of terrain, a great lift and trail system, superb “inbounds backcountry” areas bookending the terrain, and if you are there when the sun shines, views to die for.

Pros and Cons of Crystal Mountain

Pros
  • On fine days you’ll score jaw-dropping views of the 14-er Mount Rainier.
  • The terrain variety at Crystal Mountain WA is impressive.
  • Crystal Mountain Ski Resort is blessed with lots of snow albeit a little heavy, which is typical of the PNW.
  • Crystal has truck loads of advanced, expert and backcountry type terrain, and if you’re prepared to work a little, you’ll be well rewarded with fresh powder.
  • There is some on-mountain lodging (which is rare for a Washington ski resort).
  • It has the best lift infrastructure in Washington and the resort continues to invest heavily in ongoing upgrades.
Cons
  • It can get pretty busy on the weekends.
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
  • Crystal Mountain WA isn’t a super developed ski resort. There are minimal activities beyond the skiing and snowboarding, and very limited options for dining, nightlife or shopping. You definitely won’t be able to buy some crystal encrusted goggles at Crystal Mountain!
  • Crystal Mountain Washington is on the Ikon Pass.

Ski Crystal - Terrain

The Crystal Mountain ski and snowboard terrain is reasonably big with 57 designated trails and 2,300 acres (931 hectares) of lift serviced terrain, making it the largest ski resort in Washington. The terrain stretches across half a dozen peaks and basins and provides a myriad of variation including lovely groomers, steeps, trees, cliffs, bowls, chutes and backcountry access.

One of the major strengths of the Crystal Mountain ski area is that it’s truly a great all-rounder for the different ability levels. The official stats are beginner 11%, intermediate 54% and advanced/expert 35%, although this underestimates the amount of joy on offer for experienced snow riders. There are lots of scary unmarked double blacks and the ski resort is bookended by some superb inbounds backcountry.

The lift infrastructure is pretty well developed, particularly for a Washington ski resort. The fleet of 10 lifts includes an 8-person gondola, 2 high-speed 6-packs, and 2 high-speed quad chairs.

Crystal Mountain Snow

Crystal Mountain Ski Resort averages 486 inches (12.3 metres) of snowfall annually. This is not in the realm of Mt Baker that has reached cult-status with its 701 inches (17.8 metres), but it’s more than enough to get a powder hound’s tail wagging. Whilst Cascade Concrete can set in, the huge advantage that Crystal has over Baker is that the top elevation is significantly higher (586m/1923 feet) so it’s much less inclined to get hit with rain. Arggggh!

Where is Crystal Mountain WA?

The Crystal Mountain Ski Resort is situated in the northeast corner of Mt Rainier National Park in the Cascade Range of Washington State. Crystal Mountain Resort is 84 miles southeast of Seattle (about a 2 hour drive depending on traffic and road conditions).

There is a snow bus that runs from Seattle some days, whilst “out-of-towners” will want to have a car to get to the resort.

Crystal Mountain Lodging

Crystal is largely a ski area for day-trippers, although it provides Washington’s exception to the rule that there is pretty much no accommodation on any ski hill in the state (what about Whites Pass I hear you say – that’s the exception to the exception!). Thankfully there’s some Crystal Mountain lodging at the ski resort.

There are three Crystal Mountain hotels that are within very easy walking distance of the slopes. OK, so it’s not the Hilton, but sometimes all you need is a bed, bathroom and somewhere to sit to satisfy your needs. The moderately priced Quicksilver Lodge at Crystal gives you this. A little more basic is the Village Inn which has queen and twin rooms. And the Alpine Inn has a restaurant that’s excellent and the Snorting Elk Cellar bar and ‘deli’ provides the sustenance (food and beer!).

Book Crystal Mountain Hotels

The Gold Hills area has a community of privately owned houses, some of which are available to rent.

The Alta Crystal Resort is located about 10-15 minutes drive from the ski resort and offers suites for up to 4 guests.

Ski Resort Facilities

Crystal isn’t a glitzy destination resort and the base area amenities are adequate without being OTT. There’s an equipment rental shop, retail shop, mini-market, and ski school, but no child care.

The base day lodge is a fine place to grab a snack or meal, or the Campbell Basin Lodge has a really lovely cafeteria (which includes great Asian fare) and bar. Or for something a fraction grander, lunch at the aptly named Summit House provides stunning views of Mt Rainier on fine days.

Après Ski & Evening Dining

The Bullwheel Pub & Grill upstairs in the main base lodge is an OK spot to watch the stragglers come in off the hill, but the après-ski destination is the Snorting Elk Cellar with its Bavarian theme and great selection of micro-brews. It’s a widely acclaimed après-ski bar that gets pumping on the weekends, and the carpet really stinks so you know you’ve found a good ski bum bar.

Upstairs, the Alpine Inn Restaurant keeps the Bavarian theme going, with great schnitzels and goulash.
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