Snow enthusiasts took to the slopes at Mid-Atlantic resorts in November and will continue to pursue winter fun at resorts opening this month. All resorts have COVID-19 restrictions in place, so visitors can expect to wear masks, keep a safe distance from others, and wash hands or use sanitizers often when necessary.
The Mid-Atlantic boasts an abundance of opportunities for engaging in winter activities such as cross-country and downhill skiing, snow tubing, snowboarding, ice skating and more. Many resorts offer lessons in various sports and have programs and daycare for children. Some offer relaxing spas and apres ski activities. And when Mother Nature fails to deliver snow, most resorts have the equipment and technology to make it. With 22 ski resorts scattered across the state, Pennsylvania is wide open for winter sports. Virginia and West Virginia each claim five resorts, while Western Maryland is home to one resort. Here’s a sampling of places to consider when making your winter travel plans.
Pennsylvania’s winter resorts stretch across the state — from the Poconos to Lehigh Valley to Laurel Highlands. The biggest resorts in the Laurel Highlands are Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion, with 33 trails, 10 lifts, a vertical drop of 750 feet, six terrain parks for snowboarding, an Olympic-sized superpipe, and accommodations for up to 5,000 guests; Hidden Valley in Somerset, with 26 trails, nine lifts, and a vertical drop of 470 feet; and Laurel Mountain in Boswell, with 20 trails (including exciting Lower Wildcat Slope), two lifts, and a vertical drop of 761 feet. Established in 1940 in a state park by the same name, Laurel Mountain was designed by Johann “Hannes” Schneider (inventor of the Arlberg Method of skiing). Holders of the annual Highland Pass enjoy unlimited skiing and snowboarding at all three resorts.
Voted the No. 1 Favorite Winter Resort by Snow East Magazine, Camelback Mountain at Tannersville is the largest ski resort in the Poconos, boasting 39 trails, 16 lifts, two high-speed quads, a snowboard half-pipe and multiple lifts.
For high adventures on the slopes, check out Blue Mountain Resort in Palmerton, which has the highest vertical drop in the state (1,082 feet), not to mention 40 trails, 16 lifts and a Big Air Bag for practicing ski jumps.
Novice skiers, along with families, tend to frequent resorts such as Spring Mountain Adventures, Schwenksville; Whitetail Resort, Mercersburg; Liberty Mountain, Fairfield; Roundtop Mountain, Lewisburg; and Mystic Mountain at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Farmington.
Cross-country and snow-shoe enthusiasts enjoy Crystal Lake Ski Center in Hughesville, offering 20 miles of cross-country trails, plus ice skating, or Mount Pleasant in Edinboro, with ten trails and two lifts. Blue Knob All Seasons Resort at Claysburg, featuring 34 trails (half of them rated advanced to expert), six lifts and a vertical drop of over 1,000 feet, has the most challenging slopes in the Mid-Atlantic, plus it offers a variety of dining and lodging options in its Alpine Village. For more details on these and other ski resorts in the Keystone State — including Bear Creek, Jack Frost/Big Boulder, Ski Sawmill, Shawnee Mountain, Ski Big Bear, Montage Mountain, Tussey Mountain and Eagle Rock — check out visitpa.com.
More adventures await travelers at Snowshoe, Winterplace, Timberline, Silver Creek and Ogleby Bay resorts in the Mountain State. The largest resort is the ever-popular Snowshoe Mountain Resort at Snowshoe, an inverted property featuring facilities atop the mountain. Sixty trails and vertical drops of 600 to 1,500 feet offer challenges to every level of skier. The resort also has snow tubing and snowboarding. With 21 restaurants, one nightclub and over 1,400 condos and lodge rooms, Snowshoe can accommodate a large number of guests.
Two resorts located at Davis near Snowshoe — Silver Creek (also a state park) and Timberline — are known for cross-country and snowshoeing. Timberline reopens this season after spending $10 million in capital improvements.
Winterplace Ski Resort at Ghent is home to the largest tubing park in the state, plus snowboarding and skiing.
Oglebay Park, a Wheeling city park, offers skiing, snowboarding and tubing.
Families might consider the West Virginia Passport Program, which allows fourth and fifth graders to ski or snowboard free during the 2000-2021 season. Visit wvtourism.com for details.
The “Lovers’ State” offers myriad winter activities at five resorts — Massanutten, Wintergreen, Omni Homestead, Bryce and Liberty Mountain Snowflex. Massanutten, near Harrisonburg, devotes 70 of its 6,000 acres to every level of skier on its 14 runs, seven lifts and vertical drop of 1,110 feet, plus two terrain parks. Visitors also enjoy snow tubing, snowboarding, and ice skating. Centered around Massanutten Mountain (elevation 2,922 feet), the resort has a variety of accommodations in different price ranges.
Wintergreen at Nellysford has 26 slopes and trails, two six-pack chairlifts, the state’s largest tubing area, a spa, and seven restaurants.
Founded in 1766, the Omni Homestead at Hot Springs is one of the state’s most popular places to spend the holidays. In addition to the luxurious hotel and the 2,000 acres surrounding it, visitors may enjoy skiing, snowmobiling, dining, spa services and more. Bryce Resort at Basye, a family-oriented private club that is open to the public, offers eight slopes and five lifts, plus snowboarding and tubing.
Liberty University’s one-of-a-kind Snowflex at Lynchburg delivers year-round skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and competitions, plus accommodations in a ski lodge. For more details, go to virginia.org.
Wisp, the state’s only ski resort, is located in McHenry next to Deep Creek, a recreation area that’s blessed with good natural snow. The resort has 33 trails, a slope side hotel, several restaurants, and a year-round Mountain Coaster. New skiers love Wisp (wispresort.com).
Revising Bucket Lists
As we head into 2021, with hopes for a COVID-free world, we might have to revise our bucket lists. Travelers may find Travel + Leisure’s list of scenic train trips across America to be enticing, as well as Windstar Cruises’ adventures, geared to travelers who have “been there and done that.”
Scenic Train Trips Across America
- The Napa Valley Wine Train — Napa to St. Helena
- The Pacific Surfliner — San Diego to San Luis Obispo
- The Coast Starlight — Los Angeles to Seattle
- The Grand Canyon Railway — Williams to the South Rim
- Amtrak Cascades — Vancouver to Eugene
- White Pass & Yukon Route — Skagway to Carcross
- Vacations by Rail: Colorado Rail Experience (Georgetown Loop Railroad, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad; Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad; Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad, and Royal Gorge Route Railroad)
- Vacations by Rail: America’s Great National Parks (Glacier, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Arches, and Canyonlands)
- Vacations by Rail: An Autumn Tour in New England (Conway Scenic Railway, Green Mountain Flyer Fall Foliage Express, and Cape Cod Central Railroad)
- The Maple Leaf Train — Niagara Falls to New York City
- Treasures of the Greek Isles — Athens to Athens
- Yachtsman’s Harbors of the Rivieras — Barcelona to Rome
- Classic Italy and the Dalmatian Coast-- Rome to Venice
- Alaskan Splendors — Vancouver to Seward/Anchorage
- Around Iceland — Reykjavik to Reykjavik
- Dreams of Tahiti — Papeete to Papeete
- Alaskan Glaciers & Prince William Sound — Seward/Anchorage to Vancouver
- Ancient Worlds of Greece & Ephesus — Athens to Athens
- Greece via the Corinthian Canal & Turkey: The Marvels of Ancient Rivals — Athens to Athens
- Greece, Israel and Egypt: Footsteps of Faith in the Holy Lands —Athens to Athens
(More details are available at windstarcruises.com.)
CDC and the U.S. Travel Association
In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance on wearing masks and practicing good hygiene while traveling, U.S Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow, issued this statement: “The CDC’s new guidance really says it all: ‘America’s transportation systems are essential…for America's economy and other bedrocks of American life.’ There simply cannot be an economic and jobs recovery unless travel is able to broadly resume, and the universal embrace of mask-wearing and other hygiene measures is the thing that is going to enable that to happen. That’s why the travel industry has been emphasizing the necessity of masks since the early days of the pandemic and will keep repeating it as often as we need to until it’s fully automatic behavior among travelers….” (ustravel.org)
Carol Timblin welcomes travel news at firstname.lastname@example.org