To Preserve the Mountain Experience Crystal Mountain, WA, to Charge For Weekend Parking

SnowBrains | | Industry NewsIndustry News
crystal mountain
Crystal Mountain parking lot. Credit: Crystal Mountain

In an announcement last week, Crystal Mountain, WA revealed that to preserve the mountain experience they need to reduce car volume, encourage carpooling, provide free shuttle services, and, consequently, reduce their carbon footprint. 

For these reasons, they’ve shifted their lots to paid parking on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Free parking is included with the purchase of a season’s pass, and passholders will be required to register their plates online. Crystal Mountain does not have a reservation system to ski this season. Carpools of four or more will be free with priority parking, and free bus shuttles will run from Enumclaw peak weekends.

Full details from their website are below:

The first fall storms are hitting the Cascades and the weather has clearly turned at the mountain. Mornings feel crisp and our thoughts are turning to snow stacking up in Green Valley as we count down the days to opening day. We’re all looking forward to winter, with anticipation that the deep snowfalls of last season are a good omen for what awaits in this year’s forecast.


As we started planning for this winter season, our attention turned to one issue that has been obvious as demand for Crystal days has spiked the past few seasons. While our mountain is big—with 2,600 acres of expansive skiable terrain—our two lane 40 mile approach, and our parking situation are a lot more constrained. At times, when everyone else in our region wants to ski or ride too, arrival can be the most difficult part of the day for our community.

Crystal is tucked into a tight mountain valley with access through a National Forest up a two-lane mountain road. That location is part of Crystal’s allure, but it also creates constraints that we all feel when The Boulevard crawls or the lots fill early. Absolutely no one wants to be stuck in a powder day traffic jam or to be turned back to town instead of lapping the gondola or dropping into Northway. At the same time, as snow lovers, we’re all evaluating our environmental impacts more closely now—thinking about how we can make different choices that better benefit our mountain ecosystems.

For those reasons, we decided to tackle our new transportation plan with thought, strategy and consideration, rather than sticking our head in the snowbank and pretending traffic wasn’t an issue. We listened to a lot of impassioned guest feedback, carefully evaluated our options and forecasted for another big winter of visitation after seeing how our population, our community and the outdoors are all booming right now. We looked to other ski resorts that have tackled similar transportation challenges and what solutions best preserved the character of their hills.


So, for this winter, we’re changing how it’s all going to work in our parking lots.

First, the big news is that we’ve shifted our lots to paid parking on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Free parking will be included with the purchase of a season’s pass, and passholders will be required to register their plates before arrival so we can gauge capacity. We will not have a reservation system to ski this season. Carpooling will be radically encouraged and free for four or more with designated spaces and priority shuttles. Paid parking revenue will directly fund free bus transportation from Enumclaw on peak weekends as we embrace more efficient and more environmentally conscious ways of accessing our mountain.


All Season Passholders

Free parking will be included with the purchase of your 21/22 season’s pass. Passholders must enter their license plate numbers online in our system prior to arrival and will be verified in our lots through the license plate recognition software. On-site parking is free for all Ikon passholders as well as Crystal Local Pass, Hall Pass and Anytime passholders. Wild Card holders will park free on Fridays. A Lot is still reserved for A-plus parking pass holders.

Four-Plus Carpools

Parking will be free for 4+ person carpools that are verified on arrival. Aside from being part of the solution and earning good powder karma, carpoolers will gain access to designated spaces and priority shuttle service—both of which will save valuable time getting up on the hill. We encourage household members or vaccinated groups of four or more to carpool as much as possible this winter.

Weekend Day Visitors

Paid parking will be required for daily visitors parking at the mountain on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, whether with or without pre-purchased day tickets. Backcountry skiers and snowboarders, snowshoers and all other snow play visitors will also need to pay for parking after arrival via the app, by scanning a QR code or at one of our on-site, solar powered kiosks. Write down your plate number before hitting the kiosk. Proceeds raised through paid parking will be directly applied to making bus transportation from Enumclaw free for all riders on weekends.

Weekday Parking and Other Key Details

Parking will remain free for all visitors from Monday to Thursday. We actively encourage guests to take advantage of flexible schedules to ski or ride on weekdays when the mountain is quiet and empty. A Lot is still reserved for A-Plus parking passholders. All paid parking revenue will be utilized to fund free shuttle bus service from Enumclaw on peak weekends. Stay tuned for more info on schedules.


Maintaining the character and experience of our mountain is extremely important to us, but so is allowing our community to grow so others can feel the same charge. With sustainability as a core value at Crystal, we believe this transportation plan is a positive step to address character, access and sustainability by improving traffic flow, reducing total car trips and lessening environmental impacts.

In an effort toward transparency and tracking, we’re making our goals for this plan public. And, we’re counting on our Crystal community to help get us there and, of course, remind us if we get off track.

We seek to improve guest experiences of arrival and parking as well as providing reliable, cost-free shuttle service as a viable alternative
We aim to reduce the number of cars on the road by 10%
We’re working to reduce carbon emissions as a result of vehicle pollution by 10%
We’re encouraging carpooling with members of your house or other vaccinated guests
We’re aiming to expedite the arrival process from parking lot to base area, so you can be skiing or riding in less time
We’re committed to providing more efficient, expedited shuttle service between our lots and base area with more shuttles and faster routes, increasing capacity by 20% from last season

And, a Big Thank You to the Voices of our Community

Thank you to everyone in the Crystal community who provided their feedback and who care about issues of access, character and sustainability. We’re hopeful this new transportation plan will make Crystal an even better place to visit and look forward to another long, deep winter in the mountains for all of us.

Please stay tuned on our website for more information as we get closer to ski season. Whether you’re a first-timer or a long-timer or somewhere in between, we understand you may have questions. We will be sharing details and FAQ’s in the coming weeks.

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