If you are looking a place to ride near Seattle then Crystal Mountain Ski Resort Washington is a great nearby option.
It is roughly 1hr 45mins from Seattle by car (traffic and conditions dependent of course) and boasts the largest riding area in Washington with 2,600acres of terrain with 2,300 of that lift accessible.
Crystal has undergone some major developments over the last 8 or so years. The Northway chairlift was added in 2007 which increased the lift accessible terrain from around 1350acres to the 2300acres accessible today.
In 2010 a gondola was installed allowing 8 visitors at a time to go directly from the base area to the summit.
Further development is on the cards with more chairlifts in the pipeline.
With an average snowfall of 486 inches (12.34 metres) it pales in comparison to the mammoth amounts of snow that Mt Baker (Crystal’s Washington Cousin and last week’s mountain profile) receives – but this is still a good amount snow and should ensure plenty of powder days – especially good for those who like to explore the extensive backcountry on offer at Crystal.
|Crystal Mountain Stats|
|Resort Elevation: 2,137m (7,012ft)|
|Vertical Drop: 945m (3,100ft)|
|Ride-able area: 2,600 acres|
|No. of Lifts: 11 (1 gondola, 9 chairlifts, 1 magic carpet)|
|No. of trails: 57|
|6 (11%) Beginner (Green)|
|31 (54%) Intermediate (Blue)|
|20 (35%) Advanced (Black Diamond)/Expert (Dbl Black Diamond)|
|No. of parks: 1|
|Night Riding: No|
Free-riding & Trails
With plenty of snow and an extensive backcountry this is another great mountain for free-riders – especially on the Northway side – which now has a chairlift for easier access.
There is also plenty of variety on the trails particularly for the intermediate to advanced riders. Not a huge amount for beginners but enough to keep you going until you progress onto the blue runs. As soon as you do there is an abundance of these to aid your progression.
There are two separate trail maps below – one for the main face and the other for Northway
You can also take guided tours of the backcountry – click here for more details
Whilst most of your freestyling will be done off natural hits at Crystal, they do have a terrain park which they first installed in 2010 and looks quite decent. It is accessible from the Forest Queen Express Chairlift and is called Sasquatch.
Sasquatch has a series of jumps, boxes and rails of differing sizes so you have your choice of smaller features or larger ones – depending on your stage of park progress.
Whilst freestyle is certainly not the focus of this mountain there is a lot of diverse terrain where natural hits and drops will help to satisfy freestylers visiting Crystal.
Learn more about the lodging options at Crystal Mountain at the link below:
How to Get There
Located 1hr 45 minutes south-east of Seattle makes Seattle-Tacoma International Airport the most logical option for flying if you are coming in from out of the region.
Seattle: 1 hr 45 minutes without traffic, 1hr 47 when I checked but it was non-peak time so expect longer during peak times
Tacoma: 1 hr 30 minutes without traffic, 1hr 35mins when I looked
Portland: 3 hrs 30 minutes without traffic
Crystal provides a weekend express bus on selected dates from the Seattle areas. Click here fore more details
There are also some midweek bus options.
Usual opening date
Crystal usually opens mid-late November. The 2013 opening date below is November 20 but they actually opened for one day for a lucky few punters. They sold limited tickets for a one day only opening on October 1st – now that’s an early start! Unfortunately it was only for one day – but what a day it would have been for those that got tickets.
Past 5 years opening dates:
2010/2011 Season: November 19, 2010
2011/2012 Season: November 18, 2011
2012/2013 Season: November 21, 2012
2013/2014 Season: November 20, 2013
2014/2015 Season: December 22, 2014
Usual closing date
The usual closing date seems to vary and has been anywhere from June 1 to July 16 over the last few years. Typically after April operations are usually only open on the weekends.
Past 5 years closing dates:
2010/2011 Season: July 16, 2011 (only weekends May through July but still!)
2011/2012 Season: July 1, 2012 (weekends only late season)
2012/2013 Season: June 16, 2013
2013/2014 Season: June 1, 2014
2014/2015 Season: Yet to close at time of writing
The Mt Rainier Gondola runs from 9am to 3pm. Most of the chair lifts run from 9am to 4pm (some close earlier).
All opening hours are of course weather dependent. Visit the Crystal Mountain Report for up to date details.
Ever Been to Crystal Mountain?
I’d love to hear what you thought of it. Just leave a comment below. Any other questions, feedback or comments also welcome.