Crystal Mountain Washington’s Facelift 20 Years in the Making Nearing Completion

Dylan Cautela |
Endless possibilities.
Crystal Mountain with Mt. Rainier in the backdrop. Photo credit:  Rory Robison

The state of Washington is a truly unique place and has so much to offer every outdoor enthusiast. With jaw dropping coastlines and backdrops of snow capped volcanoes and mountain peaks its no wonder that Washington is a destination at the top of many bucket lists.

Crystal Mountain, located at the Northeast corner of Mt. Ranier National park, boasts some of the best Washington has to offer in the way of snow sports. With stunning views of Mt. Ranier, a snowfall total of 486 inches a year, and the largest skiable acreage in Washington at 2,600 acres it really stands out above the rest.

Plenty of high alpine or gladed runs to suit your fancy
Crystal Mountain’s trail map showing the expansive terrain for all abilities. Photo credit 

Crystal was purchase by Boyne Resorts in 1997 who has spent a whopping $30 million in the past decade alone improving the mountain immensely. One of their top priorities has been updating the outdated lift system, which enhances the skiing experience even further. To date, the average chairlift is less than 15 years old with only two remaining out of date lifts.

Lift Updates Since Boyne’s Takeover of Crystal Mountain Resort

  • 1997 the Forest Queen Express high-speed detachable six passenger lift was built
  • 1998 Chinook Express high-speed detachable six passenger lift installed and Quicksilver high-speed detachable quad shortened
  • 2000 the Green Valley lift was upgraded from a fixed grip double to a high-speed fixed grip quad
  • 2007 the Northway lift was installed opening up 1,000 acres of lift accessed terrain
  • 2010 the eight passenger Mt. Ranier Gondola was installed and opened January 1, 2011
  • 2014 Chair 6 was replaced after being destroyed by a large avalanche
  • Future replacement for the Ranier Express and Discovery lifts are in the works as they are the last remaining outdated lifts

“There aren’t many ski areas this side of Europe with as modern a lift system as Crystal Mountain in the Washington Cascades.”

-Peter Landsman for

Four new lifts offering some great terrain.
The master plans for Crystal Mountains expansion project. Photo courtesy of

Boyne also has some new lift installments planned for the future. The Kelly’s Gap Express lift is planned to be built between existing Northway and Green Valley lifts and will improve skiers accessibility to the north side of the mountain. This lift will accompany a new base facility located in the current lower parking lots. A new lift called Park-N-Ride will be inserted between the current base and base of the gondola to substitute the use of pick-ups and trailers as skier transportation to the base area.

That's some pretty serious vert in a short distance.
Google Earth image depicting the proposed Kelly’s Gap Express. Photo source 

A new lift site has been proposed on the east side of the valley, opposite of Crystal Mountain, where Gold Hills existed from the years of 1974-1984. The lift was moved due to lack of snow since it is located on lower-elevation terrain and in order to make the new lift viable it would be partnered with modern snowmaking systems. Another expansion project, the East Peak lift, was submitted with the Master Development Plan in 2004 to the Forest Service to access high alpine terrain above Bullion Basin. The Forest Service rejected the suggested plan for East Peak. (To see more information about Boyne’s Master Plan for Crystal Mountain please see Crystal Mountain Master Development Plan)

Running max capacity
Mt. Ranier Gondola getting the people to the pow. Photo courtesy of 

The state of Washington and Pacific Northwest has followed a fairly consistent trend of good snowfall throughout the years. This upcoming year resembles a similar if not better outlook for snow predictions which, along with all the improvements to Crystal Mountain Resort, paints a pretty picture for a ski adventure.

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3 thoughts on “Crystal Mountain Washington’s Facelift 20 Years in the Making Nearing Completion

  1. Lots of enthusiasm, but your article has many factual errors.
    Crystal Mt. borders Mt. Rainier National Park, it is not in the park.
    1998 Quicksilver was shortened (assuming your date is correct) but it was an old, fixed grip double.
    The Northway chair didn’t open up 1000 acres, it added lift served skiing. The terrain was already part of the North Country and considered in the total advertised acreage of the area.
    There are 3 older chairs – Rainier Express, the first high speed detachable chair in Washington, Gold Hills (aka the T-bar hill) and Discovery
    You refer to the old chair that was removed as Gold Hills, that was the original “chair 6” and was named Bullion Basin, not Gold Hills.
    The original Bullion Basin may be the current Gold Hills chair, replacing the original T-Bar on that hill.
    I am skeptical that a 2nd base area, or the Park and Ride will be built, or the replacement for Bullion Basin, but you never know. Kelley’s Gap Express is likely as it will provide an alternate approach to the summit chairs of Green Valley and Northway when it is too windy to run the Gondola or Rex.

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