Mt. Rainier is among the finest white-tipped mountains found in the U.S., and as it’s still an active volcano, you get a sense that it’s only a matter of time until it blows. While that sentiment can be scary and fill one with fear, it also makes some visitors like myself feel a sense of excitement, like you’re living life on the edge. I know I felt that way in Yellowstone National Park when I drove up and over the edge of the caldera. So to see Mt. Rainier best, I reached out to Crystal Mountain Resort who specializes in ski vacations. In the summer months, they still run their gondola which takes you up a mountain so you can really take in Mt. Rainier and the surrounding Cascade mountains.
When I arrived, there was a great bit of construction under way, and it was obvious that the resort has grand plans for their iconic spot in the mountains. I walked around the construction zone and into the guest services door, grabbed my ticket, and within minutes I was loaded on the chair lift car and I was on my way upward. Being held up by a few pieces of metal attached to a wound cable did strike me with a momentary sensation of fear, but I quickly compartmentalized the fear and decided to focus elsewhere, on the journey and the views which were everywhere. Once I made it up to the destination, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker and other peaks along the Cascade mountains revealed themselves to me, and my jaw dropped to the floor of my gondola car.
I walked around awhile, enjoying the solitude, and the epic views, which reached north to Canada and south all the way to the infamous Mt. St. Helens. The photos were easy as any place, as every view was stunning, and filled with a natural majesty and mystique. Crystal Mountain has dining services at their resort at the start of the gondola and they have a mountain top area where they serve drinks and food, and you can just lounge while staring at a volcano. Not a bad life, really. Service up and down the gondola takes 5-10 minutes, and lines in late June weren’t bad at all. This trip was well worth the time and effort, for the experience was first class, and the photo ops were even better.