You may not have snow in your backyard, but Zach Marlowe has Wintergreen covered. Just shy of a three-hour drive from Washington D.C. and nestled in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Wintergreen Resort is the only ski area on the East Coast to have 100 percent of its terrain covered by automated snowmaking.
“We can go from pumping zero gallons of water to 9,000 gallons a minute,” said Marlowe, Wintergreen’s director of operations, who talks about snow the way others might talk about a Tesla’s 0-to-60 measure. The slopes are projected to open on Dec. 14.
Wintergreen offers a variety of terrain for beginner to advanced skiers. It’s a great place to learn to ski, offering a ski school, private lessons and children’s activities from preschool-age up. For experienced skiers, Wintergreen’s Highlands trails offer some of the most advanced terrain in the area.
For a rush that requires little skill, try the Plunge Snow Tubing Park, where your wild ride starts at a ten-story height and traverses the equivalent of three football fields. “Anybody can do it,” Marlowe assures us — you just have to be able to laugh and scream.
During the holidays, keep a lookout for Santa on the slopes passing out candy canes. Pierce Byrd, the creative mind behind the children’s programs, has lots of fun planned. “We do pictures with Santa, cookies with Mrs. Claus and a holiday singalong,” Byrd said. “Kids show up in their pajamas!”
For non-skiers, there’s always indoor tennis, an indoor pool, a spa and hiking in a winter wonderland with 30 miles of trails and great views.
Wintergreen is welcoming because
Your cell phone works here. Travel down on a Thursday night, work remotely a little on Friday, and hit the slopes for the weekend without the stress of losing touch at work.
You can avoid ticket windows. Load your ski pass online at home before your trip so you’re ready to roll when you get there.
There are December deals. Check out the “3 for Free” learn-to-ski or snowboard package, where first-time beginner skiers and snowboarders can reserve up to three free all-inclusive lesson packages. Also special for December: “Mission: Four’dable” offers four 8-hour lift tickets you can use any day of the season.
On your way there
Stop by the Woodstock Garden Cafe in Virginia only minutes off of I-81, a charming restaurant housed in the Fort Valley Nursery. In December, a holiday lights display attracts locals and visitors alike. Try the carrot-apple-ginger soup and a craft beer.
On your way home
You’ll find fellow outdoor enthusiasts — including campers, hikers, and skiers — at the Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub, less than 20 minutes away from Wintergreen. Have a seat around the massive fire pit and toast the wintertime.