A guide to the best and most accessible ski slopes in the area
Around the winter holidays, many Blazers and their families look for a fun and exciting outdoor activity on the local ski slopes of the area. However, as a result of the recent plight of warm winter weather and daily showers the Washington area has been experiencing this winter, skiers have been forced to either endure slushy slopes or to find an alternative activity.
Luckily for winter enthusiasts, Martin Luther King Day weekend gave the first showing of real temperature drops for the area and allowed area ski resorts to cover the trails with a solid base of machine-made snow. For those looking to take advantage of currently-falling natural snow, here's a guide to the best slopes in the area.
Whitetail Ski Resort: Mercersburg, Pennsylvania
Whitetail is an easy 90-minute drive from the Washington, D.C. area. The resort features 19 different slopes for skiers and snowboarders and a half-pipe for snowboarders. Snow tubing is also available for children older than five and adults. Ski slopes are open from 8:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. weekdays, weekends and most holidays, and tubing is open from 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Prices for lift tickets vary depending on the amount of time a skier is planning to stay at the resort. Lift tickets range from $37 for a four-hour period to $42 for an eight-hour period. Weekend and holiday rates cost $7 more. Whitetail had closed many of its slopes due to rainfall last week, however, 16 of their slopes have been opened as of Jan. 22, and they are expecting to open more later in the week.
For more information on housing accommodations, lessons and more, click here.
Ski Liberty: Fairfield, Pennsylvania
Ski Liberty is a slope frequented by many in the Washington area because of its proximity. The resort is about 65 miles from D.C., less than 90 minutes away. Ski Liberty has 16 ski slopes, which snowboarders are permitted to use. Ski Liberty offers lift tickets for a bit cheaper than Whitetail, at $35 for a four-hour flex, and $40 for an eight-hour flex. Ski and snowboard rental prices are around $30 for a four-hour period. Snow tubing is also available for those who are looking for a somewhat more mellow winter thrill. Ski Liberty does not have the facilities for cross-country skiing, however. Snow-making is in progress all over the mountain this week, and 80 percent of trails are open, according to the Ski Liberty observation team, which has been predicting one of the best weeks of skiing this week, an improvement over the last week of "soft snow with bare patches."
For more information on Ski Liberty hours, rates and forecasts, click here.
Wisp Resort: McHenry, Maryland
Wisp resort boasts 22 slopes, more than either Ski Liberty or Whitetail, though to have the opportunity to ski a few more slopes, Blazers have to make the three-hour trek to the Deep Creek Lake area. As of Jan. 22, 20 of Wisp's 22 slopes were open, due to the temperature drop and the "9 to 12 inches of natural snow" that Wisp received last weekend, according to Wisp associate Carol Gidd. Wisp lift tickets cost $39 on weekdays, $49 on weekends and $52 on holidays. The resort also features a tubing slope and a snowboarding park, both of which are open this week.
For weather updates, trial maps and other information, click here.
Hidden Valley Ski Resort: Hidden Valley, Pennsylvania
Hidden Valley Resort has been named one of the 50 finest hotels and resorts in the region by the Atlantic Monthly. Under a four-hour commute from the D.C. area, Hidden Valley is worth the drive, as they offer 28 downhill ski slopes for skiers and snowboarders and cross-country skiing as well. Twelve lifts take skiers up the mountain starting at 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. in the evening. Snow boards and downhill skis can be rented for a $20 fee per session; cross country skis cost $20 per day. Weekday lift tickets at Hidden Valley are also considerably cheaper than at other ski resorts; juniors (6-17) can ski for a nine or ten-hour session for $24; adults (18-64) can ski with a $30 lift ticket. Weekend and holiday rates are $35 for juniors and $45 for adults. As a special discount on Tuesdays, Hidden Valley offers $15 lift tickets for any session, any age.
For more information on skiing at Hidden Valley Resort, click here.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort: Champion, Pennsylvania
As the number one rated ski area in the mid-Atlantic, according to Ski Magazine, Seven Springs Mountain Resort urges all skiers to come out and enjoy the excellent skiing weather made possible by a weekend of winter wonder. Dick Barron reported on Seven Springs' Snow Watch that, "We had a great night of snow-making and grooming! We will continue around the clock to make snow even during ski sessions!” Champion only had an inch of natural snow last weekend and has been supplementing it with machine-made snow throughout the past week. And with the help of this weekend's natural snowfall, all 31 trails were open as of Jan. 22. Weekday lift tickets are $34 for adults and Saturday and holiday tickets are $45 for a day or twilight session. Ski rentals are $23 for a day or twilight session, and snowboard rentals are $29 per session. Seven Springs also offers snow tubing, snowshoe tours, snowmobile tours, snow cat rides (rides in the back of the snow-grooming machine) and sleigh rides. Seven Springs offers a wide variety of beginner and intermediate trails for those who are still working on their snowplow. Seven Springs Mountain Resort is a four-hour drive from the D.C. area.
For more information on rates and weather conditions at Seven Springs, click here.
Caitlin Garlow. Caitlin is a second-semester senior at last. Her favorite things include making fun of her homeless sister and hunting down her clothes in other people's closets. More »