Social media may paint a picture of Washington locals weary of snowy climes (“snowmageddon” anyone?), but Washingtonians actually take poet and painter William Blake’s words to heart—“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” And when the mercury dips, locals do just that. They hit the road to snow-laden resorts in Virginia and Pennsylvania, where skiing, snowboarding and other cold-weather merrymaking are all less than two hours away by car.
For winters that don’t quite reach snowmageddon levels, resorts like Whitetail and Ski Roundtop in Pennsylvania and Massanutten in Virginia compensate with robust snow-making operations for skiing and snowboarding that blanket hillsides with powder for days.
At Massanutten, 6,000 acres sport 12 ski trails during the day with killer views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and lighted courses at night, while Ski Roundtop lays out 19 runs that wrap and wind down the mountain. At Whitetail, seasoned shredders swish down more than 20 trails and tackle a 935-foot drop. Novices at this modern lodge with a western vibe get a boost as well. The "Own The Mountain" program combines lessons, lift tickets and even a new set of skis for hitting the slopes with confidence.
And don’t worry, snowboarders won’t miss out. All three resorts offer ample terrain for perfecting that “fakie,” “corkscrew” or “rodeo 720.”
If skiing and snowboarding aren’t your choice, there's still winter fun. Massanutten carves out 34,000 feet for snowtubing, plus 4,250 square feet for ice-skating. Cross-country fans willing to make the three-hour drive from D.C. may want to consider White Grass Touring Center. Nestled in the Cabin Mountain range of West Virginia’s High Alleghenies, this complex receives about 160 inches of snowfall every year, dusting a little more than 37 miles of trails with 1,200 vertical feet for langlaufers to traverse.
During the 2010-2011 season, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) recognized Whitetail’s programs for new plankers and shredders as the nation’s best. Through an adaptive ski and snowboard learning program, Whitetail has also trained instructors to assist youngsters with special needs. But not all winter resort activities have to involve snow.
Non-skiing tykes who want to take a break from icy temps get the blood pumping at Roundtop’s 11 paintball fields. For 40 years, Massanutten has earned a reputation as a hub of family fun and for good reason. The sprawling compound sports an indoor water park (always heated to 84 degrees), voted number three by USA Today. Inside, find a water fortress, body slides, pools, lazy river floats and hot tubs. Families can also learn how to surf on a FlowRider Endless Wave adventure.
Resort Restaurants and Eats
With pizzerias and grills for quick eats, most resorts serve up plenty of sustenance. At Whitetail, Solstice has a sit-down experience with a menu of heartier fare like prime rib and pastas, while Massanutten ups its offerings with Sweetz, where treats like candied apples are prepared in-house.