Crystal Mountain, Washington
When the weather is right and the snow is deep, hardcore skiers from all over the West Coast beam themselves to Crystal for unparalleled skiing.
The terrain is steep and thrilling, and there’s enough of it to keep the adrenaline rushing all day. There’s enough snow too, often 12 feet deep at the top. It snowed 65 inches one record-breaking day during a recent season—and the average annual snowfall is 380 inches.
It’s Washington’s only destination Alpine ski resort, just a 90-minute drive from Seattle. The on-mountain condos, lodges and restaurants delight local skiers who would otherwise have to leave the state for a ski vacation. It is now owned by Boyne USA, owners of Big Sky, MT; Brighton, UT; two resorts in Michigan; and Cypress Mountain near Vancouver, British Columbia.
In the few years since Boyne took over Crystal, there have been remarkable improvements. Lift upgrades have included the Forest Queen Express, Washington’s first high-speed six-passenger lift; a second “six-pack,” The Chinook Express; and the Green Valley high-speed quad up to Grubstake Point. The day lodge restrooms were renovated with “40 new bowls” and two winch-cat groomers now lay down corduroy on steep slopes. The latest purchase is three new 600 Pisten Bully snow cats. The new 12,500-square-foot Campbell Basin Lodge at the top of the Forest Queen lift means skiers and snowboarders can grab a nice lunch without having to go all the way to the base area.
And there’s more to come. A U.S. Forest Service-approved Master Development Plan calls for an all-season 80-passenger tram, a lift in the North Back Country and the conversion of many of the slow-moving, fixed-grip chairs to high-speeds. This 12-year plan also includes base facility upgrades and a new slopeside hotel.