Like a select few ski resorts in North America, [R124R, Crystal Mountain Resort] has capitalized on one heck of a view. From the summit of the ski area on a clear day, skiers and snowboarders can dine on two things: exceptional food and Mt. Rainier, the tallest glaciated volcano in the contiguous U.S.

Sitting at 6,872 feet, Crystal’s Summit House boasts the distinction of being Washington State’s highest restaurant. It perches on a ridge that faces Mt. Rainier’s north slope, a monolith of ice cut by rocky outcrops and jutting nearly 7,600 feet higher than the summit of Crystal.

Crystal Mountain Summit House

Mt. Rainier, as viewed from outside the Summit House, juts thousands of feet above the summit of Crystal Mountain. Photo by Becky Lomax.

With the new Mt. Rainier Gondola at Crystal, anyone can ride as foot passengers to and from the Summit House, including non-skiers. The $20 foot passenger access (children, youth, and seniors cost less) also allows skiers and snowboarders at beginner or low intermediate levels to reach the Summit House to dine on the scenery and the food.

Crystal Mountain’s Summit House seeks to match the view outdoors with an elegant menu indoors. Chef Gabe Spiel changes the menus frequently to spin new twists on local, seasonal fare. This December, he featured an appetizer based on a recipe from his grandfather for slow roasted onions. Speil’s new version served the onion with a rosemary-balsamic reduction.

For lunch, the burgers are upscale, made with tri-tip and havarti, or you can swap in a 12-ounce pounded hangar steak instead. The crisp side fries come from sweet potatoes, and local brews can round out the lunch. Even lunch touches on fine dining when finished with a chocolate bonbon. Lunch is served daily throughout the ski and snowboard season.

Crystal Mountain Summit House

The December lunch menu at the Summit House featured a hangar steak, brocolini, and sweet potato fries. Photo by Becky Lomax.

Several other Summit House events offer ways to enjoy the view of Mt. Rainier, the sunrise, sunset, and the sky at night. The après, which features drinks and small plates at $5 each, runs every Saturday from 3-5 p.m. You can also catch the après Dec. 26-30, Jan. 15, and Feb.19.

Dinners at the Summit House take place every Saturday starting at 5 p.m. They are also available on holidays such as Dec. 26-31, Jan.15, and Feb. 19. Christmas Eve will feature a distinctive five-course dinner on Dec. 24 with prices costing $110 for adults and $30 additional for wine pairings. The New Year’s Eve Dinner with a champagne toast on Dec. 31 costs $235 for adults. All dinner rates include the gondola ride.

Crystal Mountain Summit House

Crystal Mountain's gondola, now in its second winter, whisks skiers and snowboarders to the Summit House. Photo by Becky Lomax.

For the early birds, the First Tracks hot buffet breakfast is offered every Saturday and Sunday, 7:30-8:30 a.m. Participants can dine on the sunrise, the buffet, and then first tracks in Green Valley.

Reservations are not necessary for lunch or the après. But they are required for dinners and the First Tracks Breakfasts. Make reservations online here, or call 360-663-3085.