Mt. Rainier Gondola – Visitors Guide (2023)

Located at the Crystal Mountain Resort, the Mt. Rainier Gondola is the only scenic gondola ride in Washington.

This gondola plays an essential role in transporting summer and winter visitors from the base of the mountain to the top – a rise of almost 2,400 vertical feet.

This article addresses all the common questions you might have about the Mt. Rainier Gondola so keep reading to find out more!

Table of Contents

Mt. Rainier Gondola
Mt. Rainier Gondola (Credit: Crystal Mountain)

Mt. Rainier Gondola – Crystal Mountain Resort

If you’re looking for a fantastic family-friendly activity to do at Mt Rainier then you should strongly consider the Mt Rainer Gondola at Crystal Mountain.

This is an excellent activity to bring out-of-town visitors, hikers or foe

The gondola can carry 8 people at a time, and according to the Crystal Mountain website, takes about 12 minutes to reach the summit.

The ride itself is a great experience. You’re able to take in the incredible views of the surrounding mountains as the gondola whisks you to the top.

As you exit the gondola you are greeted with an incredible view of Mt. Rainier.

There are a number of activities you can do at the top of the gondola, which we’ve highlighted below.

Once you’ve finished at the top you simply join the line and take the gondola back down to the base of the mountain. The ticket prices below are for a round-trip.

When is the best time to ride the Mt. Rainier Gondola?

Although the scenic gondola ride is available in both summer and winter we would recommend this as a summer activity.

The views are incredible in both seasons but if you’re not skiing or snowboarding your activities are fairly limited at the top of the gondola in winter.

Insider tip: The views from the top of the gondola are what make this such an incredible experience and poor weather can affect this.

If you’re thinking of heading through, take a look at the webcams to see what the conditions are like in advance.

Is the Mt. Rainier Gondola worth it?

Yes – the Mt. Rainier Gondola is 100% a worthwhile activity.

It’s family-friendly and a great way to get up the mountain and enjoy the views without having to hike.

In summer, you can also bring your dog along and enjoy the many walking trails available at the top of the mountain.

How Much Does the Mt. Rainier Gondola Cost?

At the time of writing, the cost for a Mt. Rainer scenic gondola was as follows:

Adult (ages 23 – 69)$44
Young adult (age 13 – 22)$39
Child (ages 5 – 12)$30
Senior (ages 70+)$30

Tickets can be purchased online here. Tickets purchased at the window are an additional $5.

Children under the age of 4 are free.

If you are skiing or snowboarding, the gondola is included in your lift ticket or season pass. There is no need to purchase a separate gondola ticket.

Activities At the Top of the Mt. Rainier Gondola

1. Skiing and snowboarding

It goes without saying that the most popular activity in winter is skiing and snowboarding.

Whether it is the fresh powder or groomed corduroy slopes – the Crystal Mountain Resort has it all!

At the top of the Mt. Rainier Gondola, you can access some intermediate slopes like Pro Course, Lucky Shot and Green Valley.

From there you make your way back down the mountain or access other lifts and explore the rest of the mountain.

The Crystal Mountain Resort forms part of the Alterra Mountain Company and boasts 11 lifts, 2,500 acres of mountain terrain, 80 named runs and 400 inches of snow each year.

2. Hiking and walking

The Crystal Mountain Resort offers a number of hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty to suit your needs.

Some of these hikes start from the summit which you can access via the gondola. This is one way to enjoy the scenery without having to hike from the base of the mountain.

Another popular option in summer is to take the gondola up and then walk down. A great way to enjoy the wildflowers and scenery.

There are also a variety of dog-friendly hiking trails for you to choose from. You can find out more about those here.

3. Eat at the Summit House Restaurant

Located just a few steps away from the top of the Mt. Rainier Gondola is the Summit House restaurant.

At 6,872 feet this is the highest-elevation restaurant in Washington.

Here you can have a bite to eat while enjoying the views of Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range.

In summer, you also have the option of sitting outside on the patio – highly recommended.

4. Take in the views

There are chairs available on the ridge between the gondola and the restaurant that have been set up to take in the view.

A great way to relax and take it all in.

Mt. Rainier Gondola
Mt. Rainier Gondola (Credit)

Mt. Rainier Gondola Operating Hours

Summer Hours

At the time of writing, the summer operating hours were as follows:

May 26 – June 25Weekends only10:00 am – 5:00 pm
June 30 – September 4DailyMon – Thur (10:00 am – 5:00 pm)
Fri (10:00 am – 6:00 pm)
Sat (9:00 am – 8:00 pm)
Sun (9:00 am – 6:00 pm)
September 8 – September 24Weekends only10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Winter Hours

The scenic gondola winter operating hours are as follows:

Monday – Thursday9:00 am – 3:30 pm (last down 4:00 pm)
Friday – Sunday8:30 am – 3:30 pm (last down 4:00 pm)

How To Get To the Mt. Rainier Gondola

The Mt. Rainier Gondola is located at the Crystal Mountain Resort in Washington.

The Crystal Mountain Resort is located on the northeast corner of Mt. Rainier National Park and is a 90-minute drive from Tacoma and a 105-minute drive from Seattle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Mt. Rainier have a gondola?

Yes, it is known as the Mt. Rainier gondola and is located at the Crystal Mountain Resort.

The gondola operates during the summer and winter seasons.

How Long is the Mt. Rainier Gondola Ride?

The Mt. Rainier gondola ride takes approximately 12 minutes to transport passengers from the village up to the top of the mountain.

How high is the Mt. Rainier Gondola at Crystal Mountain?

The final stop of the Mt. Rainier gondola is at an elevation of 6,872 ft (2,095 m). The ride takes you over 2,400 vertical feet (732 meters) from its starting point to the summit.

Are dogs allowed on the Mt. Rainier Gondola?

In summer, leashed dogs (other than trained service dogs) are allowed to take a trip on the Mt. Rainier gondola.

From here, leashed dogs are welcome to explore the available hiking trails. On hot days, there are even water bowls stationed around the summit to ensure your dogs are well-hydrated.

In winter, dogs are not allowed on the gondola.

You can find more information about Crystal Mountain’s pet policy on their website here.

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