You might think that Washington has too much hot air surround it to ever get enough snow for skiing. After all, skiing requires snow - and hills or mountains. There are hills are within a few hours drive of Washington - and where there are hills, enterprising people will create snow.
About 90 percent of resorts now use machines to augment the natural snowfall. They even make snow at Vail - at least on the beginner and intermediate slopes. Even if you see green grass in your yard in Washington DC or Bethesda, ski resorts most likely have snow.
Here are the local favorites for taking advantage of winter.
Wintergreen VA - Distance from DC: 156 Miles
Wintergreen is in the Blue Ridge Mountains with 24 trails and a vertical drop of more than 1,000 feet. You can rent a beautiful cabin with a fireplace or stay in a mountaintop condo that faces east. Enjoy a visit to a spa or hang out in a hot tub after an afternoon on the slopes.
Massanutten VA - Distance from DC: 120 Miles
Massanutten offers 14 trails for skiing and snowboarding. If you really don't see yourself enjoying an afternoon on the slopes, you might enjoy the 42,000-square-foot indoor water park. The facility features a “lazy river” where you can float on a tube in the warm water, plus tube and body slides, a family swimming section, and a Flowrider surfing zone that pumps 50,000 gallons of water a minute to form artificial waves.
The Homestead Hot Springs VA Distance from DC:
The advantage of skiing at the Homestead is that you can stay at the Homestead, a luxury resort in the mountains of Virginia with gracious dining and lovely rooms. The mountain is not particularly challenging for experienced skiiers, but it is fun. The teaching area allows new skiers to prepare for an easy transition to the beginner-friendly lower trail or the main lift. More advanced skiers can enjoy intermediate trails like The Glades, Escape, and Upper Main, while the most seasoned can test their skills on the Nose Dive or The Chute.
Liberty Mountain: Carroll Valley PA - Distance from DC: 78 miles
Liberty is near Gettysburg PA and just a short drive north of Washington and the Maryland suburbs. It is a great day trip or good for a quick evening ski trip, when all the slopes are lit and running until 10 pm. An adult lift ticket, good from 4 to 10 pm is only $49. Liberty has a vertical drop of 620 feet and enough slopes to keep you busy for an afternoon. I am partial to Liberty since I learned to ski there as an adult. If you are someone who loves a day of powder in the Rockies, this will be a huge adjustment. East Coast skiing means ice - lots of ice --but it's easily accessible!
Fun Fact: In her biography, Becoming, Michelle Obama talks about skiing at Liberty - wrapped in a scarf, goggles and helmet - and completely unrecognized!
Wisp McHenry MD - Distance From DC:179 Miles
Wisp is a relaxed family-friendly mountain is next to Deep Creek Lake. The slopes are right outside the lodge—as is the ski-and-snowboarding learning center, which includes five conveyor-belt lifts and a separate section for children. Many of the 33 trails are rated for beginners, and no one ever seems to be in a rush—making it easy if you’re just getting into snow sports. I remember going to Wisp with my son and feeding the deer behind the hotel. Looking back, I know that it was not eco-responsible but it was over thirty years ago.
White Tail - Mercersburg PA - Distance from DC: 89 Miles
This Pennsylvania resort has 23 trails and 11 are rated blue, or intermediate. The trails are all wide open and easily negotiated by skiers and snowboarders who love the joy of carving turns but don’t want terrain that’s too steep. There is a high-speed, four-person lift so that you can get in lots of runs in a day.
Blue Knob - Claysburg PA - Distance from DC: 166 Miles
Blue Knob is reputed to have the most difficult single slope in the Mid-Atlantic, dubbed the Upper and Lower Extrovert. Compared with other resorts in the region, the mountain is steeper, the trails are narrower, and there are lots of moguls as well as ungroomed terrain and trails cutting through the trees. Blue Knob has a vertical drop of more than 1,000 feet, and half of its 34 runs are rated advanced to expert.
Canaan Valley - Davis WVA - Distance from DC: 179 Miles
Canaan Valley is a pleasant place for skiiers and is also popular with cross-country skiiers and snowshoers. Skiers will find more than 35 kilometers of cross-country and snowshoeing trails at Canaan Resort as well as an additional 60 kilometers of maintained trails at adjacent White Grass Ski Touring Center. Both offer rentals and lessons.The valley, with an elevation of 3,200-plus feet, is in an area that regularly receives lake-effect snow to cover the open fields and wooded trails.
Seven Springs: Seven Springs PA - Distance from DC: 193 Miles
When I think of Seven Springs, I think of Mother-Son ski trips, stops in Breezewood MD before the PA turnpike and sliding backwards down a hill, unable to turn around and get my skis in front of myself. Maybe it was the shiny green puffy ski jacket that really did me in and sped my slide down the mountain. Seven Springs is a great place to take a large group of beginner skiers for a weekend. They have lots of rooms and facilities to keep pre-teens engaged or out of mischief in the evenings.
While most resorts have one or two terrain parks for snowboarders, Seven Springs has six. Each has one-of-a-kind features for boarders of different levels, and freestyle skiers can also frolic on the rails, boxes, and jumps. The resort has the largest and longest half-pipe in the region—the 440-foot-long Spot Superpipe—which allows Seven Springs to host major snowboarding competitions, such as the US Revolution Tour.
Snowshoe Snowshoe WVA Distance from DC: 220 Miles
Snowshoe is probably the biggest of the ski resorts on this list. There are 61 trails, a vertical drop of 1,500 feet, and more than a dozen lifts. Unlike other resorts around DC, you stay on top of the mountain and ski down to start your day on the slopes. The mountaintop village includes a spa, restaurants, shops, and lots of lodging options—from hotel rooms and condos to cabins and houses. Off slope are snowtubing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobile tours, a swimming center, and much more.
If you are moving to the DC area and are unsure what you will find here, please give us a call at the Lise Howe Group at 240-401-5577. We have been helping families and individuals relocate to Washington for over 30 years - and we would love the opportunity to help you find your home here too!