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Summer at Crystal Mountain Is Filled with Adventure

From epic views to music and dining, this is summer at Crystal Mountain 

Spectacular views. Epic sunsets. Farm-to-table dining. Gondola rides. A new adventure course. Hikes to satisfy your wanderlust. And, The Mountain.  

You can experience it all this summer at Crystal Mountain. Yes, that’s right, summer. 

In July and August, the slopes of Crystal Mountain are alive with hikers, photographers, birders, foodies and explorers of all ages and abilities. Each summer, Crystal Mountain — which doubles as a top-rated ski destination in winter — welcomes visitors for gondola rides, food and music events, and ridgeline hikes. And, majestic views of Mount Rainier. In fact, it’s likely the best viewpoint to see Rainier in all its glory.

See Mt. Rainier in all its glory from the perfect viewpoint on Crystal Mountain. Photo: Crystal Mountain, Christy Pelland
See Mount Rainier in all its glory from the perfect viewpoint on Crystal Mountain. Photo: Christy Pelland/Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain is completely different in summer. Wildflowers are in bloom, biking and hiking trails are open, and there’s music in the air.

So, grab your camera, sunscreen and a good pair of shoes, and let’s explore things to do in summer at Crystal Mountain. 

Ride the Mt. Rainier Gondola

This summer at Crystal Mountain, ride the gondola to enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Range. Photo: Crystal Mountain, Colton Jacobs
This summer at Crystal Mountain, ride the gondola to enjoy spectacular views. Photo: Colton Jacobs/Crystal Mountain

The Mt. Rainier Gondola transports you 2,400 vertical feet to the summit, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range. The ride takes about 12 minutes and prices vary by age (kids 4 and under ride for free). Each gondola cabin seats 8 people. Dogs are welcome guests on the gondola in summer, so bring them along too.

Tip: Save $5 by booking your gondola ride in advance online. 

Dine above the clouds at 6,872 feet 

Dine above the clouds and soak up the view at Crystal Mountain.
Dine above the clouds and soak up the view at Crystal Mountain. Photo: Christy Pelland/Crystal Mountain

In summer, Crystal Mountain gives new meaning to farm-to-table dining at Summit House with their Farm-to-Mountain dinner series. Hosted Saturdays through September 2, Summit House’s Farm-to-Mountain dinners feature fresh flavors and local specialties of the Pacific Northwest. Ride the gondola and take in breathtaking views while enjoying a locally-sourced and environmentally-sustainable culinary experience. 

Tip: Reservations for each Farm-to-Mounting dinner are now open. The price includes your gondola ticket and dinner. 

Go stargazing on the mountain 

AAA Washington members get a 15% discount on Summit Fest tickets with code AAAVIP. Click here to buy tickets. Photo: Crystal Mountain, Ryan French
AAA Washington members get a 15% discount on Summit Fest tickets with code AAAVIP this summer at Crystal Mountain. Click here to buy tickets. Photo: Ryan French/Crystal Mountain

Dreaming of a starlit night? Make plans to go to Summit Fest. This one-night-only experience begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 12. Take the gondola to the summit for live music, marshmallow roasting, and star tours. Witness the Perseid Meteor Shower over Rainier in a setting made for stargazers. 

Get your tickets early, dress warmly and prepare for a starlit evening like nothing you’ve ever seen before. 

Tip: AAA Washington members get a 15% discount on Summit Fest tickets with code AAAVIP. Click here to buy tickets. 

Take an outdoor summer challenge 

crystal mtn Flying Raven2 by Henri Halle
Crystal Mountain’s aerial adventure course offers something for every level of adventurer. Photo: Henri Halle/Crystal Mountain

The Flying Raven Adventure Course — Crystal Mountain’s first-ever aerial adventure course — is a fun-filled challenge like nothing you’ve seen before. The 3-hour tour features obstacles and elements to test your strength, balance, and agility; expect an adrenaline rush on the teetering bridges and high beams. There’s something for every level of adventurer, from newcomer to pro. Families and first-timers can start on the Green Circle, and the most experienced thrill-seekers can go for the Black Diamond routes. 

Tip: Make reservations and check requirements (including age) before your visit. This summer at Crystal Mountain, all 2023-24 Crystal Legend Pass holders get free unlimited access to the course. 

Enjoy music on the mountain 

Bring a blanket and lawn chairs for the free Mountain Music Series this summer at Crystal Mountain. Pictured here, the Aaron Crawford Band. Photo: Crystal Mountain, Christy Pelland
Bring a blanket and lawn chairs for the free Mountain Music Series this summer at Crystal Mountain. Pictured here, the Aaron Crawford Band. Photo: Christy Pelland/Crystal Mountain

The Mountain Music Series is the place to be on Sunday afternoons in August. Free for all ages (and dogs too), the concert series features favorite Pacific Northwest artists. Pack a picnic, bring your lawn chairs and enjoy great music in a stunning outdoor setting.   
 
Tip: No tickets required. Follow the music to the meadow lawn located at the base area. 

Play disc golf 

crystal mtn disk golf by Colton Jacobs
Play a free round of disc golf while taking in the view at Crystal Mountain this summer. Photo: Colton Jacobs/Crystal Mountain

Fore! This summer at Crystal Mountain, you can play up to 36 holes of disc golf between the lower and upper course. Take a scenic ride up the gondola and play the summit course, or simply head to the base course under the Rainier Express Chairlift. Both courses offer great fun and beautiful views for players of all ages and skill levels. 

Tip: The disc golf courses are free, but you must purchase a gondola ticket ride to access the summit course. 

Strike it rich (or have fun trying) at the mining sluice 

There are a wide range of activities for families and kids this summer at Crystal Mountain. Take a gondola ride and try your hand at mining. Photo: Ryan French
There are a wide range of activities for families and kids this summer at Crystal Mountain. Take a gondola ride and try your hand at mining. Photo: Ryan French/Crystal Mountain

Located on the summit ridgeline and accessible via a gondola ride, the Silver Creek Mining System is a great all-ages activity. Get a taste of the gold rush: try your hand at gold mining and test your precious stone knowledge.

Tip: You can buy a bag of pay dirt at Tower 16, visit the sluice box with your gem identification card and let the dirt wash away revealing hidden treasures. 

From ridgeline hikes to live music, there's a lot of fun to be had this summer at Crystal Mountain.
From ridgeline hikes to live music, there’s a lot of fun to be had this summer at Crystal Mountain. Photo: Colton Jacobs/Crystal Mountain

Inspired to visit Crystal Mountain this summer? Here are some tips to plan a great road trip: 

  • Crystal Mountain is 6 miles from Mount Rainier National Park’s east entrance on Highway 410. It’s a great destination for dining, exploring and scenic viewpoints before entering the park. 
  • Crystal Mountain is about 2-hours from Seattle or 90-minutes from Tacoma. 
  • It can be cool and breezy on the ridgeline, so come prepared with a jacket, hat, etc. 
  • Drive an EV? You’ll find 8 new universal EV charging stations at Crystal Mountain, just past upper C lot. They’re also free. Each charging station is a level 2 Flo CoRe+ and has the capacity for two vehicles to be plugged in at one time. Think about charging your EV while hiking. 
  • The area has a lot of options for camping, RV parking and lodging, but it gets busy in summer. Don’t forget to make reservations. 
  • Good walking shoes are a must.
  • Don’t forget your AAA Washington membership for peace-of-mind on the road, plus discounts on hotels and gas along the way.

Here’s to epic views and adventures on the mountain this summer!

— Written by: AAA Washington staff

Top photo: Crystal Mountain

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Road Trip Tips

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