When the singer John Denver described West Virginia as "almost heaven," there's a good chance he was talking about the West Virginia ski slopes. The combination of a long ski season, excellent snow and a low base elevation makes West Virginia a popular ski destination for those who live in the state, as well as visitors from Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. West Virginia offers the avid skier or snowboarder a diverse selection of ski resorts which are suitable for every age, budget or ability level.
Visiting West Virginia Ski Slopes
Unlike the ski resorts of Colorado and Utah, the slopes of West Virginia are located at a relatively low base elevation. As such, there is no need for altitude acclimation. However, the weather can get quite cold, so be sure to dress in layers.
Snowshoe Mountain is one of the most popular West Virginia Ski Slopes. It bears the proud distinction as being owned by Intrawest, who brought you Copper Mountain in Colorado, as well as Mont Tremblant and Whistler in Canada. Snowshoe boasts an average of 180 inches of annual snowfall. It has a 4,848 foot summit elevation, as well as a 1,500 foot vertical drop. Its longest run is 1.5 miles long. In the event that Mother Nature fails to cooperate, the resort has 100 percent snow making capacity.
Of the 61 trails at the Snowshoe West Virginia Ski resort, 41 percent are suitable for beginners, 36 percent are best for intermediates and 23 percent are for experts. In case you can't get enough of the mountain in the daytime, 12 of Snowshoe's trails are open for night skiing. The resort has 14 lifts, which include three high speed detachable quads, two handle tows and two magic carpets.
Winterplace is the perfect resort for families and novice skiers and riders. It has a base elevation of 2,997 feet, a summit elevation of 3,600 feet and a vertical drop of 603 feet. With 41 percent beginner terrain, 44 percent intermediate and 15 percent advanced terrain, Winterplace offers a non-threatening venue for those who want to learn to ski or snowboard. Although there are only 27 trails, there are nine lifts, which is an excellent lift to slope ratio.
Due to their excellent deals for groups, the resort is popular with church groups, schools and other types of organizations. Although the terrain is rather easy, Winterplace boasts the largest snow tubing park in West Virginia, and thus attracts many visitors.
Canaan Valley is another one of West Virginia's popular family resorts. Since the resort has a conference center, it is also a popular destination for business travelers. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Canaan Valley offers a rather odd new sport known as "airboarding," which they describe as "snowboarding on inflated air-rockets." Canaan Valley has 37 slopes, as well as an 850 foot vertical drop. Its base elevation is at 3,430 feet and its summit is at 4,280 feet. With 30 percent of the terrain suitable for beginners, 40 percent for intermediates and 30 percent for experts, Canaan Valley has something for everyone.
With its scenic vistas, affordable rates and night skiing at most resorts, West Virginia is an excellent choice for a family, group or romantic ski vacation.