Guide to Virginia’s 6 Ski Resorts
Virginia is for Lovers, but it’s also for skiers. The state’s terrain is varied with plenty of mountains to the west creating impressive opportunities for skiing. Between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park, the state has beautiful ski areas despite a perception that they might be too tame for experienced skiers and snowboarders.
All four downhill winter ski options are part of four-season resorts. There are plenty of activities in the winter months and lodging and amenity choices. Natural snow isn’t plentiful but overnight temperatures are usually low enough to create an artificial base.
The ski season generally runs from mid-December through mid-March, though conditions can vary based on the weather. Check resort information beforehand as some resorts might close temporarily during the week if the snow is poor. The best time to visit any of the state’s resorts is after a snowfall, but if that can’t be arranged then visit in early February when the snow is usually at its peak and temperatures are comfortable.
Blue Ridge Ski Areas
Wintergreen is a four-season resort tucked in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The ski area access is located at the top of the mountain, where lodging, dining, and equipment rental are available. For experienced skiers new to Wintergreen, the mountain may feel a bit upside down. The easiest runs are located near the top of the slopes and the difficult runs are at the bottom and to the sides.
Even though the resort has only 129 skiable acres, the atmosphere makes it feel larger. Wintergreen’s surprisingly challenging slopes are spread out, so skiers have plenty of room to explore while switching between the 26 green, blue and black trails. The longest run, Tyro, is a black diamond traversing 1.4 miles primarily along the lift line.
The Omni Homestead is a very small ski option for those staying at the Omni Hotel in Hot Springs. It’s not necessarily a ski destination for experienced skiers, but a good choice for families. The ski area on 45 acres has nine easy runs located on a fairly vertical plan accessed by three lifts.
Some trails are long but overall not very challenging. The resort also features an ice rink, mini snowmobiles for kids, and tubing as alternative outdoor recreation options.
Other Appalachian Ski Resorts
Located in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley, Massanutten Ski Resort has some spectacular views and newly added slopes. The resort is celebrating its 50th anniversary by adding new lifts and runs over the next few years, bringing the total number of trails to 20.
These new trails, all blue and black, will elevate its status to be on par with other premier resorts east of the Mississippi. Massanutten’s skiable area covers 70 acres with a 2,925-foot elevation and 1,110-foot vertical drop.
Bryce Resort in the Allegheny mountains is part of a timeshare complex but open to the public. It’s a small hill with 25 skiable acres but packed full of fun. The ski area has eight slopes plus a terrain park. Most are for beginner skiers, but the top of the mountain has a few challenging trails. When the weather is cold enough, the ice skating rink, snow tubing, and snowshoe treks at sunset are available.
While mid-winter is the best opportunity for great skiing, mid-March is the most entertaining time of the year with Winterfest. The day-long event celebrates the end of the ski season capped by pond skimming which has to be witnessed to be fully appreciated. The ski area doesn’t have its own accommodations but there are plenty of rental options in the timeshare.
Virginia is also the home to two year-round skiing options. Northern Virginia is home to the Inside Ski Training Center utilized by professionals but open to the public. Skiers navigate special skis on a treadmill with a low slope. The cost includes equipment and instruction.
Further south at Liberty University, the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center has downhill slopes, terrain park features, and tubing on material that mimics snow. Snowflex uses a turf-like material for skiing and snowboarding. The material can be abrasive on the skin and a challenge to navigate, so beginning skiers may be wise to start on winter snow first.
Virginia breaks the stigma that eastern ski resorts are tame. The four downhill resorts have plenty of challenging runs between them but also lots of tepid slopes for skiers and snowboarders to learn. With two off-season options, skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels have the option of ski activities any time of the year.