Crystal Mountain Resort is Mt. Rainier’s premier ski area for winter snow fun. In the summer, visitors can ride the gondola up to the summit of Crystal Mountain for what the resort claims is the best view of Rainier. You’ll experience stunning views from other vantage points, but Crystal offers a spectacular overview of the north and south Cascades that you don’t get at the park’s visitor centers. On a sunny day it’s quite magical. If it’s not sunny, we’d give it a miss, as the views are the reason to ride.
Board the 8-person gondola to ascend nearly 2,500 feet in 12 minutes and disembark just steps from the Summit House, the highest elevation restaurant in the state. You’ll find a row of lawn chairs set up to bask in the sunshine and a ridge with trails to explore. Teens might enjoy playing the free disc golf course, with one that starts at the bottom of the gondola and one at the top. We recommend lunching at the Summit House to maximize your mountain experience.
Gondola reservations aren’t necessary, but if the weather changes, do confirm it is operating. Open daily from mid-June to mid-September (check the website for the season’s schedule and hours).