I'm not sure if you're still following this thread or not, but I have a few thoughts for you. I live in Vancouver, Wa, which is on the other side of the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Every ski season I'll make 2 to 4 trips north to ski Crystal Mt. (it's a 3.5 to 4 hour drive for me). I'll typically drive up Friday night, ski two days, and drive home Sunday night. Mt Hood (Oregon) is a lot closer (1.5 hours), but the experience at Crystal is much better.
LODGING ON THE MOUNTAIN
I've stayed at several places on or near the mountain, and there's only one worth recommending: Alta Crystal Resort. See their website: http://www.altacrystalresort.com
As other posters have noted, many of the accomodations on the mountain are very lacking in quality. I haven't stayed in all of the accomodations, but the ones I've tried have been disappointing. However, Alta Crystal Resort, which is about 8 miles from Crystal Mt., is excellent. The place is in excellent condition, and it is obvious that the owners are very active in keeping it maintained.
I had a chance to ski with Alta's owners at the Crystal Mt Steeps Camp last February. They are very nice people who take pride in the fact that when Warren Miller comes to Crystal Mt., he stays at Alta Crystal.
Alta Crystal is on HW 410, about a mile before the turn off to Crystal Mt.
LODGING IN ENUMCLAW AND BUCKLEY
Enumclaw is about 40 miles away from Crystal Mt., with Buckley being about 45 miles away. A lot of excellent lodging posibilities exist in Puyallup, which is about 60 miles away.
I've had bad experiences at King's Valu Inn and Mt. View Inn. Until a couple of weeks ago, Mt. View Inn was my place of choice.
Park Center Hotel used to be a Best Western. Rates have dropped since they were a Best Western. 5 or 6 years ago when I last stayed there this place met the standards one would expect from a Best Western. On a good powder weekend, it will sell out.
I'll be staying at the Park Center Hotel this weekend. Its probably the best one can do in Buckley or Enumclaw, and if you're interested I'll post a review of it early next week.
DRIVING TO CRYSTAL MT.
Three quick and important notes...
- Highway 410, which runs through Enumclaw, is the only way to get to Crystal Mt. You'll see a blockade on HW 410, just past the Crystal Mt. turn off. There is a 7 mile road from HW 410 to the resort.
- AWD is highly recommended. I frequently put my truck in 4WD to get up the road to Crystal. I've never had the need to chain up, yet I always take chains with me. Note the following disclaimer: the weekend you visit you may wish you had chains.
At the end of a day of skiing (at about 4:30pm), I've never had problems getting down from Crystal Mt. without chains (once again: you may wish you had chains the weekend you visit...).
- You'll see signs around Bonney Lake, Buckley, and Enumclaw on HW 410 that say "Chinook Pass Closed". Don't panic. "Chinook Pass" is apparently past Crystal Mt., and is probably why there is a blockade on HW 410 just past the Crystal Mt. exit.