While we’re All About the South Sound here, in the summer months we also like to run some ideas for those of you doing staycations or looking for day trips or even short road trips.
A ride on the Crystal Mountain gondola is a great South Sound area day trip with some major, “Wow!” factor.
While Crystal is known as a place to ski and snowboard, this time of year you can take a gondola ride to the top and enjoy mountain views and blooming wildflowers. No reservations are needed, and it operates weekdays from 10AM-5:30, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10AM-7PM through September 21st. Update-This post has not yet been updated for 2017, so verify times and pricing before you go.
A few things to know before you go:
- The gondolas are fully enclosed, and the ride is smooth. I think most kids will love it! I have some heights issues, but I was fine with it, except for one moment when we were stopped as they had to assist someone at the top. They do close in case of big winds. If you have serious fears of high places you probably don’t want to ride to the top of a mountain.
- Ticket prices have gone up since last year, and now are a pretty spendy 22.00 for adults and 12.00 for kids 4-12. Kids o-3 are free. Tickets are round trip.
- Once you get to the top, you can enjoy the views or eat a picnic. There are some tables right as you get off, or you can hike down a bit and find a spot you like. There is also a restaurant at the top, but you will definitely need reservations. I think the do-it-yourself option is more fun with kids, and it’s definitely cheaper! Note that mountain weather is unpredictable-there were lots of pretty views on the day we went, but the mountain was mostly hiding around a cloud bank.
- After you’ve looked around or enjoyed your lunch, you can catch a ride down, or do what we did and hike down. There is a map at the top showing several routes, and there are walking sticks to borrow at the bottom or the top. Since you’re going down hill, you don’t exert yourself much, but it is hard on your knees, and there are lots of loose stones and gravel. Even though it’s downhill, I’d probably classify this as a moderate hike. I think most school age kids would do fine, but I would not take preschoolers or younger children because of the tripping potential.
- If you’re really up for a workout, tickets are only checked on the way up-so you could hike to the top and ride down! You’d burn plenty of calories and save some money! Obviously, hiking up a mountain is not for everyone!
- Leashed dogs are allowed on the gondola, and we did take the rescue lab. We somewhat regretted it because he was antsy the whole ride, and when we got to the top he almost launched off the mountain after a squirrel. Once we were away from the crowds, it was better.
- Remember that mountains make their own weather, so bring layers. It was sunny at home when we headed up, but rainy at the base. You will still want sunscreen, too, and even on short trips near civilization, I think it’s a good idea to bring the 10 essentials.
- You can get more information here if you’d like to take a ride on the Crystal Mountain gondola!
You might also be interested in one of these fun day trip ideas:
Note that I haven’t updated all of these for 2017 yet, so please do use the links to verify hours and prices before you go.
A Day Trip to Jetty Island Everett
Canoeing the Arboretum in Seattle
Riding the Great Wheel Seattle waterfront
If you’ve got a great Puget Sound area staycation or daytrip idea, let me know! I do have some opportunities this month if you’d like to write for Sounds Fun Mom! Just send an email to email@example.com