Just two hours from Seattle, Crystal Mountain is Washington state's largest ski resort, with just over 2,600 acres. And thanks to its neighbor, 14,400-foot Mount Rainier, huge storms coming in off the Pacific get stuck overhead, dumping 486 inches of snow annually. With thousand-foot hanging glaciers, Rainier itself may be an intimidating sight, but Crystal Mountain actually holds some surprisingly fun and mellow runs, with 60 percent of its 57 trails made for intermediate skiing or below. Despite a few chairlifts, this is true wilderness skiing, smack in the middle of vast National Forest land and, if you're equipped, you can easily escape through any one of nine gates to access epic backcountry. Crystal Mountain's 7,000-foot summit station has a rare view of the PNW's most famous volcanoes: Rainier, Hood, St. Helens, and Baker. Lift tickets are $72.
Where to Stay: The Alpine Inn is a refreshingly modest two-story Bavarian-style hotel. No spa, no ski valets, but you can practically touch the Rainier Gondola with your ski pole from the front desk.
Insider Tip: Crystal Mountain's proximity to Mt Rainier means some of the country's best ski guiding outfits, including Rainier Mountain Guides (RMI) and International Mountain guides (IMG), are on-hand to take you out for some world class backcountry touring.
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