SKI - - RESORTS OF THE YEAR 2019 - —Heather Hans­man

Crys­tal Moun­tain is de­ceiv­ing in a good way. Ride the Mount Rainier Gon­dola 2,400 feet up to the sum­mit, and it feels like all 2,600 acres of the big­gest re­sort in Wash­ing­ton spill out in front of you in open bowls and un­du­lat­ing bump runs. But Crys­tal’s best assets, like the steep Right An­gle Trees and the chutes of Snort­ing Elk Bowl, take some ex­plor­ing. It’s full of nooks and cran­nies—try to find a lo­cal you can chase around South­back. But de­spite its dense glades and sprawl­ing ter­rain, which can chal­lenge any skier who wants it, Crys­tal re­tains a down­home, all-ages feel. Whole fam­i­lies camp out in the famed “B” RV lot, grilling to­gether after the lifts stop turn­ing, the moun­tain hosts ju­nior freeride com­pe­ti­tions, and the ter­rain on the lower moun­tain off the Chi­nook and For­est Queen chairs is mel­low and rolling. It scores high among read­ers for ease, accessibility, and value. Ameni­ties are min­i­mal, but if you come ski­ing for the ski­ing, Crys­tal is a place you can ex­plore for years.

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