CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN RESORT GUIDE

Crystal Mountain
Itineraries

Crystal Mountain Overview

May 2021

This no frills mountain is a powderhound's dream with steep terrain, a vertical drop of 3,100 feet and deep snow. Crystal Mountain is located less than two hours from Seattle and 90 minutes from Tacoma. Seattle-based shredders have been honing their skills here for years. Nestled in the Northeast edge of Mt. Rainier National Park, Crystal benefits from large storms that tend to hang over its volcanic neighbor. The weather can be variable though and gore-tex is a must as base temperatures can be balmy and even rainy.   


The drive to Crystal leads visitors through a scenic forest with stunning views along the White River. When the storms break, there are several après spots to enjoy unspoiled views of Mt. Rainier. Parking lot B has a neighborly culture where you can pack your cooler and relax alongside RV neighbors. The scenic Summit House also has tasty bites and drinks with stunning views.  


Following the resort's acquisition by Alterra in 2018 and subsequent addition to the Ikon Pass, it has become more crowded. For the 2021-22 season, the Ikon Base Pass will offer 5 days only at Crystal. The Full Ikon Pass is unlimited.

CLOSED for the season

Snow Reliability

Family Friendly

Snow-Making & Grooming

Travel Convenience

Terrain Variety

Extreme / Off-Piste Terrain

Ski School

Accommodations

On Mountain Dining

Quick Take

Let's Go

  • Huge amounts of patrolled "backcountry" are accessible with quick bootpacks

  • Soak in amazing views of Mt Rainier and its sourrounding peaks including Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Baker and Glacier Peak

  • An easy day or weekend trip from the Seattle-Tacoma area; enjoy the charm of a local mountain with the feel of big mountain terrain

  • Big storms roll in and stick around. Snowfall averages ~485 inches annually, though can be a little heavy

  • Excellent lift infrastructure and Altrerra continues to invest in upgrades

Hesitations

  • No longer under the radar screen, Ikon Pass has brought huge crowds resulting in several bottleneck spots and long lift lines

  • Few true beginner runs, first timers should look to other local mountains such as Snoqualmie 

  • Remote location; there is not much of a base village and lodging and après options are limited

  • Temperatures can hover around the freezing level and rain is not an uncommon in the parking lots

Insider Tips

  • Arrive early to avoid crowds which cause traffic and a long drive up the mountain road and result in parking in far away lots, especially on the weekends. Leaving Seattle before 6 am is NOT crazy! 

  • If the Mt. Rainer Gondola line is long, take Chinook Express from the base and then get onto Rainier Express for stunning views along the way to the top

  • Don't be intimidated by the descent from the summit. Advanced beginner and intermediate shredders can enjoy the views from the top and then follow Blue rated, Lucky Shot or even take the Mt. Rainier Gondola to return to the base

  • The Snorting Elk Cellar is a rock'in place to grab an adult beverage, check out the local favorite Snorting Elk Frost beer from Elysian

Trail Map

For an in-depth breakdown of Crystal's terrain, head to our Mountain Guide. Top trails and mountain stats included. 

Crystal Mountain

Getting To & Around

Info.png

Crystal Mountain is ~90 minutes driving, Southeast from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. A car is essential to reach Crystal; buses and shuttles are not avaliable. Make sure to leave early on weekends to avoid traffic on the mountain road and score a good parking spot.

Getting To

Closest Major City: Seattle-Tacoma

  • Distance: ~85 miles North West

  • Travel Time: ~ 2 hours drive


Closest Sizeable Town: Enumclaw, WA ~40 minutes drive

Neighboring Resorts

Crystal Mountain is relatively isolated in the Cascade Mountain Range in Northwestern Washington. There are a few smaller resorts nearby, but the closest major resorts are more than 5 hours away.


Closest Neighbors on the Ikon Pass

  • The Summit at Snoqualmie, WA (~95 miles, ~2 hours, 10 mins)

  • Mt. Bachelor, OR  (~380 miles, 7.5 hours)


Other Washington Resorts on the Epic Pass

  • Steven's Pass, WA (~150 miles, ~3 hours, 40 mins)


Other Washington Neighbors: 

  • White Pass, WA (~140 miles, ~3.5 hours)

Travel by Plane

Closest major commercial airport: SEA (Seattle-Tacome International Airport)

  • ~75 miles Northwest, ~2 hours drive

Travel By Bus

As of April 2021, shuttle bus service from the Seattle-Tacoma area has been suspended. A car is essential to travel to Crystal Mountain. 

Travel by Car

Having a car is essential here. It is otherwise very difficult to get here get here or get around

  • The A Lot is closest to the base, and reserved for pass holders until 2 pm daily ($1099 for the season). Daily parking is not availabile

  • Don't fear though; other lots are accessible and Crystal provides free, easy to navigate shuttles to the base

Crystal Mountain
Itineraries