Riding the Crystal Mountain Gondola With Your Family: 2020 Updates!
Are you looking for something that’s kid friendly and dog friendly near Mt. Rainier? The Crystal Mountain Gondola is open for the summer of 2020, and you can take your whole family, including your dog!
While this isn’t a bargain outing (except for your tots and young preschoolers), it’s a super fun adventure. I know here at the SFM house since we’re pretty much staying put this summer, we have a little more wiggle room in the budget for day trips.
Here are some more FAQs straight from the folks at Crystal, plus my tips for first timers!
All guests are required to wear a face covering while in indoor spaces, waiting in line for the gondola, and while loading and unloading the gondola.
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.
- 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 a restaurant at the top with some take out options, or they have a fancy dinner service one day a week (not something I’d take kids to, but I’m cheap like that). 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, you can also hike up and get a download only ticket. Be sure to check on where to get these; I believe it’s only at Tower 16. I have done this hike, and I just about keeled over. I was nursing an infant at the time, so that’s a pretty good excuse, but this is definitely a fanny kicker, and probably not something I’d do with most kiddos. Just me, though.
- 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!