Virginia Ski Area Guide -- Very Complete

  • Bryce Resort, Basye • 25 skiable acres on 500' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 1750'; Base elevation: 1250'. 5 Lifts: 2 doubles, 3 surface. Uphill Capacity: 3000/hr. Terrain Mix: 34-33-33. Longest Run: 3500'. Season: usually December through mid-March, 7 days. Night Skiing Tues-Sat. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 30". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: Less than two hours from DC, smallish, slow lifts...yet somehow Bryce is seldom, if ever, crowded. Great for beginners, and like every other Virginia ski area, nothing too tough for the solid intermediate skier. Prices are reasonable...ski Bryce if you're a beginner or novice, or skiing with a young family. Ideal place for you, reasonable pricing. Trail names mostly have a bootleg whiskey theme: Redeye, Hangover, Revenuers Run, White Lightning, etc.
    Signature Trail: Revenuers Run.


  • The Homestead, Hots Springs • 45 skiable acres on 700' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 3200'; Base elevation: 2500'. 5 Lifts: 1 double, 1 t-bar, 1 j-bar, 2 rope tows. Uphill Capacity: 2,400/hr. Terrain Mix: 34-33-33. Longest Run: 4,200'. Season: usually December through March. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 50". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: If you're a regular skiing enthusiast, Homestead isn't your ideal destination. If you ski occasionally, or have a family where skiing is second to other recreation, The Homestead is your ideal destination. Seldom crowded, never overly challenging, beautiful atmosphere. Hotshots, wanderers and crazies need not apply.


  • Homestead ski scene from the 1950s


  • Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center, Lynchburg • 4 skiable acres on artificial slope
    Specs: Surface lift, slopes, terrain park on synthetic surface with misting system. Rentals, night skiing.
    The SKInny: This is an outdoor recreation offering at Liberty University, open for public skiing. It's offered on a per-hour basis; slightly more expensive on weekends. The material was developed in Great Britain and is said to offer a unique combination of slipperiness and resistance that is similar to real snow. Because the surface can cause friction, patrons need to be fully covered, even on sunny summer days. And because it employs a water spray to keep it slippery, the college recommends water resistant material. It's an interesting offering, and the kids seem to love it.


  • Massanutten, Harrisonburg • 70 skiable acres on 1,100' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 2925'; Base elevation: 1750'. 7 Lifts: 1 quad, 3 doubles, 1 j-bar, 2 handle tows. Uphill Capacity: 6350/hr. Terrain Mix: 30-35-35. Longest Run: 4,100'. Season: usually December through mid-March, 7 days. Night Skiing 7 days. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 56". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: Of the two mid-sized (800 to 1300 vertical) resorts in VA, Massanutten is second fiddle, and plays to the masses. Like any good southern resort, the novice, intermediate, and expert terrain are all neatly segregated. Lifts move slowly, the pace is slow, and the skiing is...feh. So what is it about skiing in the Shenandoah Valley that is so spectacular? Well, it's never as cold as Vermont, and you can play nine holes before you hit the slopes. When all is said and done, Massanutten makes the best of things and runs a decent ski area. If you want to do a discount ski weekend in VA, book a room in Harrisonburg, ski Massanutten, enjoy.
    Signature Trail: ParaDice.


  • Wintergreen, Wintergreen • 129 skiable acres on 1003' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 3515'; Base elevation: 2512'. 5 Lifts: 2 six-pack, 1 quad, 1 triple, 1 double. Uphill Capacity: 9,000/hr. (higher now) Terrain Mix: 23-35-42. Longest Run: 7,392'. Season: usually November through late March. Night Skiing 7 days. Lessons & Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 40". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: Here it is, tops in the Commonwealth. Everything you'd expect in a southern ski area: It's upside-down, lifts crawl, skiers drawl, and you learn that Carhartt is a supplier of ski clothing. Each level of skier is segregated nicely, but you'll positively have to show up early, or ski "Highlands" to avoid lots and lots and lots of people. This is a full-service, four-season resort for the southern gentleman...and if he's a member, he's allowed to cut in front of you at the liftline. A couple of the runs -- Cliffhanger, Wild Turkey, and Tyro -- are well-designed, classic trails. Novices have nice, gentle runs in a central area below the main ski lodge. Be sure to visit Checkerberry Cabin, a mid-mountain snackbar that is just terrific. Because of its reputation as a pricey condo complex with ski slopes, "Wintergreenbacks" is seldom taken seriously when composing lists of important ski areas, but I'm here to tell you that it ranks with the best south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and it would still be highly respected if it were in New England. A state-of-the-art snowmaking system adjusts moisture content, so the snow is good. Wintergreen also manages to get every trail open well before mid-season, which is a lot more than most resorts can claim. Note that a few years ago, Wintergreen expanded with a few new trails that bump the skiable acreage and improve flow between "sections." Plus, a newly installed high speed sixpack on the Highlands area means that expert skiers are doing a lot less grumbling these days. As far as the "Wintergreenbacks" moniker goes, yes it is pricey. But take heart in the fact that some small portion of your ticket goes to fund their Adaptive ski programs, including "Wounded Warrior" ski weekends. Props to WTG for that, now lets do away with the line cutting.
    Signature Trail: Wild Turkey.


  • Key

  • Lifts We don't consider a ski area's tubing-only lifts as part of the total. Signature Trail Is mostly subjective. Whether it's history, reputation, the view, or degree of difficulty...it's the run you have to do, even if it isn't necessarily the best the resort has to offer.

    Finally, a note about ski area statistics: Although it's hard to believe, some ski areas are (gasp!) less than truthful with their numbers. Like the guy who lies about his, uh, shoe size, some ski areas believe that inflated numbers make their resort sound more appealling. When these numbers are obviously questionable, we put a note: (?!) and will attempt to verify the legitimacy of the claim.



  • More Virginia Ski Info

  • Technically not Virginia, but since most of its users are Virginians, DC Ski is your go-to website for MidAtlantic skiing. Great community.


  • Eagle Point, Beaver • 400-600 skiable acres on 1400' vertical Reopened! Huzzah!
    Specs: Summit elevation: 10,400'; Base elevation: 9000'. 5 Lifts: 1 quad, 1 triple, 3 doubles, 1 surface. Uphill capacity: 8000/hr. Terrain Mix: 15-60-25. Longest Run: 14,520'. Season: usually December to early April. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 400".
    The SKInny: Originally Elk Meadows, which closed for a time due to some sort of water or water treatment wranglings, or funding, or something like that. I was at Elk Meadows once, and I can tell you it's so far off the beaten path it makes Brian Head look downright metropolitan. A great mid-sized ski area with no liftlines, no commercialized anything. Highly recommended. New ownership has really turned things around...reconstructed lodges, restored lifts, it's a marvelous Cinderella story and a great ski area. For the true pedal-to-the-metal experts, Eagle Point has access to the Fishlake National Forest backcountry.
    Signature Trail: Delano Drop.


  • Nordic Valley, Eden • see Wolf Mountain, below.
  • Park City Mountain Resort, Park City • 3300 skiable acres on 3100' vertical (not all lift served)
    Specs: Summit elevation: 10,000'; Base elevation: 6900'. 14 Lifts: 4 sixpacks, 1 quad, 5 triples, 4 doubles, 1 magic carpet. Uphill capacity: 27,200/hr. Terrain Mix: 18-44-38. Longest Run: 18,480'. Season: usually mid November to mid April. Night skiing Dec-Mar. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 350". Snowmaking: 15%.
    The SKInny: One of the legendary ski areas with historic runs that unfortunately is more City than Park these days. Weekends can be crowded. Quite crowded. The atmosphere is busy, mobbed, developed...ok if you happen to like that. Yes, you can get to some remote spots. The Jupiter Bowl is still a legendary spot for hotshots. Wanderers can find plenty to do here, and families will love the abundance of intermediate level terrain. The big, easy intermediate cruisers offer just enough variety that the expert will enjoy them as well. In fact the trail called Payday is arguably one of the progenitors of the rolling groomed cruisers that are the mainstay of ski resort offerings. Another plus for Park City: it's hard to think of a bigger, better resort so close to a major metropolitan airport. As mega resort communities go, Park City is pleasant, safe, convenient. Probably one of the finest destinations for GolfCondoSkiers. Let's face it, serious skiers will prefer Alta, Snowbird, Snowbasin, etc. but it's really hard to have a bad day of skiing at Park City.
    Signature Trails: Payday, Jupiter Bowl.


  • Powder Mountain, Eden • 2800 skiable acres on 1300' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 8900'; Base elevation: 7600'. 7 Lifts: 1 quad, 1 triple, 2 doubles, 1 platter pull, 2 rope tows; cat skiing. Uphill capacity: 6350/hr. Terrain Mix: 10-60-30. Longest Run: 15,840'. Season: usually late November to early April. Night skiing. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 500".
    The SKInny: Quiet little Powder Mountain quietly offers some of the best skiing in Utah. Some of the best skiing in the country for that matter. Outstanding snow. Undeveloped mountainside. Easy to find powder runs. Endless backcountry. Rumor is that new money wants to move in and turn it into GolfCondoSkiWorld replete with 475 $4,000,000 homes, 1,000 million-dollar condos, two hotels, two golf courses...really screw it up. What is today a great spot for real skiers will someday be a great spot for vacationing golfers, replete with theme restaurants and a built-to-order village. But for now, Powder Mountain is what a ski area should be. It sprawls over six distinct peaks, with canyons, glades, long ridge runs, bowls, and powder, powder, powder. The lifts are a mix of new hi-speed quads, school buses and clumsy platter pulls. The lodges are small and rustic. The slopes are uncrowded, even on Saturdays. Just pick a line and ski it. Look, we could go on and on in this description, but it isn't necessary. Powder Mountain is simply one of the best ski areas on the planet. Period.
    Signature Trails: Straight Shot, anything in Cobabe Canyon.


  • Snowbasin, Huntsville • 3200 skiable acres on 2959' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 9250'; Base elevation: 5850'. 9 Lifts: 1 tram, 2 gondies, 1 quad, 4 triples, 1 double. Uphill capacity: 14,650/hr. Terrain Mix: 11-49-40. Longest Run: 15,840'. Season: usually late November to early April. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 400". Snowmaking: 34%.
    The SKInny: Owned by Sun Valley, site of the 2002 Olympic Downhill, Snowbasin is a ski area to be reckoned with. Lines are virtually nonexistent, and the lifts run hither and thither and can ferry you anywhere quickly. Only 40 odd miles from the airport, it's just a matter of time before this place is "discovered" and becomes as crowded as the rest of the mega Utah resorts. The knock is that some of the trails have long run-outs. Nah. The terrain seems like it's mostly well-groomed cruisers, but that's because that's all they show on the map. There's terrain here for everybody, from flat-out beginners to out-and-out big mountain freakzoid hotshots. Runs are long. Unfortunately nothing here the equal of Alta or Snowbird, just a good skiing mountain. Watch out for this place...reputation will soon equal the better known resorts. A great resort for wanderers, hotshots, families...you name it. Also one of the few where most of the advertised terrain is legitimately accessible from a lift of some sort. Be warned that when you step into the lodge, you will not think that you are in a ski lodge. Lots of elevators, oriental carpeting, magnificent construction, granite, marble, oak...the lodges are almost more impressive than the skiing. Snowbasin is most similar to Deer Valley in terms of ritzy, and in some ways out-does DVR. We're pretty sure the brass railings are polished more frequently at Snowbasin.
    Signature Trails: John Paul, Elk Ridge, Main Street.


  • Snowbird, Snowbird (little Cottonwood Canyon) • 2500 skiable acres on 3240' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 11,000'; Base elevation: 7760'. 10 Lifts: 1 tram, 2 quads, 7 doubles. Uphill capacity: 15,000/hr. Terrain Mix: 27-38-35. Longest Run: 18,560'. Season: usually November to mid-May. Night skiing. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 500". Snowmaking: 15%.
    The SKInny: The Bird is easily one of the biggest, best ski areas in the country. Where Alta is old school, Snowbird somehow stays hip and trendy. Plenty of terrain, plenty steep, decidedly not cheap. Lots for hotshots, wanderers...even the emerging intermediate can find ways to keep busy for days on end. The closest comparison to Snowbird in the USA is Jackson Hole, and most will admit that Snowbird pulls down better snow and more agreeable weather. Day in and day out, more skiers with the most skill and finest form are found at Snowbird than any other resort in the Rockies. (Vermont's Stowe takes Eastern honors). In fact, everyone short of true expert skiers will likely find other resorts more to their liking. The knock on the Bird is the lack of apres-ski (we don't care) and the fact that the trail ratings should be turned up a notch. Greens should be blues, blues should be blacks, etc. Double blacks are for the serious, pedal-to-the-metal only. If you ski blacks elsewhere, do not attempt the double blacks at the Bird right out of the chute. This is seriously tough stuff. We would put Snowbird ahead of Alta, simply because the lifts are faster and very little traversing is required. In any event, Snowbird fights for all-around best in the nation with a handful of other resorts: Sun Valley, Jackson Hole, Squaw Valley, Vail, etc.
    Signature Trails: Regulator Johnson, Great Scott.


  • Solitude, Big Cottonwood Canyon • 1200 skiable acres on 2047' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 10,035'; Base elevation: 7988'. 8 Lifts: 2 quads, 2 triples, 4 doubles. Uphill capacity: 12,500/hr. Terrain Mix: 20-50-30. Longest Run: 15,800'. Season: usually mid November to mid April. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 500". Snowmaking: 20%.
    The SKInny: Big ski area that doesn't seem to have the crowds or pretense of others in the Cottonwoods. Biggest knock is the clunky lift system, the fact that you have to trudge around to access certain trails, and that you may have to move from lift to lift depending on where you want to ski. Skiers who frequent Solitude skip tend to skip Alta and Snowbird in favor of this area, which speaks volumes. Solitude has the cutesy clocktower village and all the other jimcrack, but is still one of the most well-rounded of the Cottonwood Canyon ski areas; plenty for novice and expert alike. Some great cruisers, some excellent powder bowls. Because some of the powder runs require a hike, you can almost always count on finding some sort of untracked something at Solitude.
    Signature Trails: Dynamite, Honeycomb Canyon, Challenger.


  • Sundance, Sundance (Provo Canyon) • 450 skiable acres on 2150' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 8250'; Base elevation: 6100'. 3 Lifts: 1 quad, 2 triples. Uphill capacity: 5167/hr. Terrain Mix: 20-40-40. Longest Run: 13,200'. Season: usually early December to early April. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 500". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: Probably the oddball among Utah resorts, and Sundance prefers it that way. Few lifts, less terrain, lots of vertical, no lines. Has skiing for every ability off the summit. It's also one of a handful of Utah ski areas that doesn't offer a view of a city somewhere. Wanderers will prefer the big areas, as will hotshots. But everybody really enjoys the quality skiing at Sundance; it just seems that the lack of quantity compared to other Utah resorts makes it one of those "Yeah, we hit Sundance at least once or twice a year, but generally go to..." It's also a little bit, uh, "odd" for the casual GolfCondoSkier. Everyone knows Sundance was founded by Robert Redford, and it seems to attract more than the average number of cosmically-attuned weirdos, animal-rights activists with leather coats, and overly environmentally conscious nutjobs with more money than brains. Maybe it just seems that way. In any case, the skiing is top shelf, the resort is well run, and the atmosphere is fantastic. The occasional kook just kind of adds to the mix, and is hardly noticeable amidst the drop-dead beauty of this resort. A little history here: During the construction of Sundance, Redford and the design team hiked and explored almost every inch of the mountain to plan the trails, rather than design from topo maps. The payoff is that the trails at Sundance work with the terrain, and the skiing is exhilirating.
    Signature Trails: Bishop's Bowl.


  • Wolf Mountain, Eden • 100 skiable acres on 1000' vertical -- OPERATIONS CURRENTLY SUSPENDED
    Specs: Summit elevation: 6500'; Base elevation: 5500'. 3 Lifts: 2 doubles, 1 surface. Uphill capacity: 4400/hr. Terrain Mix: 25-45-30. Longest Run: 3200'. Season: usually December to Mid-March. Night skiing. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 350".
    The SKInny: CLOSED -- WILL UPDATE Formerly known as Nordic Valley, Wolf Mountain is Ogden's local ski hangout, complete with night skiing, and a top ticket price in the neighborhood of $25. Picture the average eastern ski area plunked down on the Wasatch range, add some Utah powder, and you've pretty much got this place pegged. None of the terrain is over-the-top in terms of difficulty; this is just a fun ski area and one of the best deals you'll ever find. Virtually everybody can ski from the, uh, "summit" -- which is actually only a third of the way up the mountain. New ownership has livened up the place; a lot of families use lodging at and around Wolf as a base for a ski vacation, spending time at the host mountain with visits to nearby Powder and Snowbasin. You'll never confuse Wolf with Alta, but that's ok, it's still a terrific place. UPDATE: Closed following the 2012 season; auction pending. Let's hope someone takes over and this place gets back on its feet.
    Signature Trail: Barney's Way.


Best all-around Skiing Guide for Women...

Mom has a pretty raw deal on the average ski trip. They're expected to make sure every child is geared up and ready to go...settle the arguments, feed the family, prepare the snacks, pack the chapstick, and so on...and then ski the black diamonds with dad after the second lesson.

Sound familiar?

The book, Skiing: A Woman's Guide by Maggie Loring and Molly Mulhern Gross ought to be mandatory reading for every ski mom. It not only provides the basics for managing the gang, it also gives a step-by-step instructional guide from a woman's point-of-view. This link is to amazon.com, where you can usually pick up a used copy for about two bucks. Mom, it's the best two bucks you'll spend all winter.

Lifts We don't consider a ski area's tubing-only lifts as part of the total. Signature Trail Is mostly subjective. Whether it's history, reputation, the view, or degree of difficulty...it's the run you have to do, even if it isn't necessarily the best the resort has to offer.

Finally, a note about ski area statistics: Although it's hard to believe, some ski areas are (gasp!) less than truthful with their numbers. Like the guy who lies about his, uh, shoe size, some ski areas believe that inflated numbers make their resort sound more appealling. When these numbers are obviously questionable, we put a note: (?!) and will attempt to verify the legitimacy of the claim.

Free Ski & Snowboard Stickers!

Show your passion for doing it up and keeping it real with a free "Old School" sticker for your helmet, or your board, or whatever. Just e-mail your mailing address to sticker -at- gondyline -dot- com and say "send me a snowboard sticker" or "send me a ski sticker" or "send me a ski sticker and a board sticker for my sister" or whatever. If you say "please" we'll send two. They look like this:

Ski Movies for Mere Mortals

Did you ever feel like those big money ski movies are often a big let-down? You get all pumped up for the new release from some ski film company, and it's mostly incredible footage of guys jumping out of helicopters and shredding down some un-named mountain on the far side of the globe. They're neck deep in powder, skiing lines that you'll never, ever see. If you want ski movies you could actually relate to, a bunch of guys called The Meatheads, from Burlington, VT have made a series of "Ski The East" films. They film at real resorts like Sugarloaf, Blue Mountain, Big Boulder, Mount Snow, Ski Sundown, Stowe, Jay, Mountain Creek, Killington, Sunday River...urban locations ranging from Virginia to Quebec...mogul skiing with The Hammer and Radio Ron...and backcountry throughout New York, New England, and the Chic Chocs. It's simply fantastic -- and since it's the same terrain we can get to, it's inspirational!

Their most popular current release is No Matter What , which received the ski equivalent of an Oscar for the Jay Peak powder segment, filmed during 2012 of all things. One that is probably their best is from a year ago, called Prime Cut . Another favorite is Wanderland: An East Coast Ski Thriller. All Meatheads DVDs have hours of "bonus" footage, so it's like getting three ski movies for the price of one. The links go to Amazon.com, which enables you to order and return if you don't like them. And a small percentage of the sale helps us pay the expenses of this website, at no extra cost to you.

Here's a preview, courtesy Youtube...



Powder Mountain masthead photo courtesy Baileypalblue; used by permission/public domain.