One mountain resort in W.Va. is the perfect destination to plan a winter trip this year.
From the fresh mountain air to that first feeling of gliding through some powdered snow, a winter getaway is hard to beat. And when it comes to outdoor activities, many elements of skiing and snowboarding trips make them the ideal kind of travel, especially this year—the individual nature of winter sports makes them a relatively low risk activity for spreading covid-19, according to infectious disease experts.
For people in the D.C. area looking for a wintry vacation, Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Snowshoe, W.Va., has the best of everything. It’s less than a five-hour drive from the capital, making it a good fit for a road trip—especially important, given the lingering risk associated with traveling on airplanes and other mass transit. The resort and surrounding area feature no shortage of things to do, from skiing on black diamond trails to relaxing with some hot cocoa before perusing the attractions and shops around town. And with more skiable grounds than any other resort in the area, as well as numerous mindful safety protocols in place, Snowshoe is ready to help travelers make the most of their much-needed time away.
Something for both adventure seekers and laid-back vacationers
Snowshoe boasts over 250 acres of land and 60 trails to choose from, which means visitors will have plenty of options when it comes to how they hit the slopes. In the Silver Creek ski area, for instance, guests can enjoy off-the-beaten-path glades, terrain parks and even the option to ski and snowboard under the stars after nightfall.
And when it comes to snow, there is always plenty of it at Snowshoe. Lots of flurries are expected in West Virginia this season, and Snowshoe is equipped with snowmaking tools that ensure that the resort will constantly have the perfect conditions for snow sports. This combination of great outdoor conditions and cutting-edge technology give Snowshoe some of the best powder around—and allows them to offer their “snow guarantee,” which pledges that they’ll have more skiable terrain than any other mountain in the Southeast.
Snowshoe isn’t limited to activities on skis or boards, either. Their tubing hill has recently been upgraded with multicolored LED lights and music on Friday nights for an experience that’s anything but traditional. Adventurous types can traverse parts of the mountain they’d otherwise never get to see via ATV or snowmobile. And Snowshoe’s signature tours allow up to four people to take in the picturesque backcountry, traveling along the winding Cheat Mountain Ridge Trail to the 80-foot fire tower and back in a seated, enclosed and heated off-road terrain vehicle.
Looking for a more relaxing time on the mountain? Snowshoe also boasts a spa, pools and hot tubs, along with plenty of dining and shopping destinations, so everyone can spend their vacation how they desire. The Snowshoe Village boasts stores chock-full of winter staples for adults and kids alike, from cozy apparel to sports gear. Dining options also abound, like a cheesy pie from Cheat Mountain Pizza, traditional Southwest dishes at Sunset Cantina or other favorites at the many nearby eateries offering socially distanced dining and takeaway options. This year, Snowshoe even launched a food-and-beverage mobile app, so that patrons can place an order on their phone while riding the ski lift and have it ready by the time they reach the eatery.
Foodies may also opt for an unforgettable meal at Snowshoe’s exclusive Sunrise Backcountry Hut. The private hideaway is nestled in a spruce forest two miles from The Snowshoe Village. The experience starts out with a tour on a heated off-road vehicle, which takes guests through Snowshoe’s backcountry area and ends at the Hut. Diners can then enjoy a multicourse meal prepared by an on-site chef, featuring freshly baked bread and three courses (including dessert) paired with alcoholic and nonalcoholic drink options.
Before turning in, visitors can round out a day on the mountain with a stop at The Junction Restaurant & Saloon, a rustic watering hole that offers nightcaps including beer, cocktails and a wine selection.
Plenty of ways to hit the slopes safely
The Snowshoe team has put a great deal of thought into updating the resort’s operations to ensure that visitors can enjoy the mountain safely this winter. This includes new protocols like daily employee temperature checks, abundant sanitizing stations, mask mandates and indoor capacity limits, as well as “ghost lanes” in between lift lines to create plenty of space for those waiting to ride.
The same goes for Snowshoe’s ski and snowboarding classes. “The instructing lends itself to being a covered-up sport with masks and gloves, so it’s not going to be too much of a change from what everybody is used to,” said Caroline Conner, assistant director of Snowshoe’s Ski and Snowboard School, Mountain Bike School and Competitive Events. “We’re here to do what we’ve always done, which is connect people to the mountain lifestyle.”
And while the expansive slopes and winter gear naturally encourage distancing from others, Snowshoe officials want groups and families to be able to stick together when they can.
“We’re going with an ‘if you arrive together, you can ride together’ concept,” said Ken Gaitor, vice president of mountain operations. “If you’re from the same household, traveled together or are staying together, your group can ride the lift together.”
He added that most of Snowshoe’s pandemic-related changes are at, or exceeding, the state’s current safety guidelines, offering travelers welcome peace of mind. And Snowshoe’s guests can play a big part in keeping each other safe this season—by following COVID guidelines and being proactive about staying safe, they can do their part to help keep the mountain open and accessible to everyone.
Make the most of the mountain
One of the best things about taking a ski trip this winter is how similar a day on the slopes will feel compared to how it did in the past. With that in mind, visitors can do a few things to ensure their getaway at Snowshoe is as enjoyable as possible this time around—namely, planning out some key details in advance.
Purchasing things like lift tickets, lodging and gear rentals as early as possible will prevent travelers from having to worry about things selling out, while meal reservations will safeguard guests from waiting around on an empty stomach. And wherever possible, families should consider visiting the resort at off-peak times—which, at Snowshoe, means taking your trip during the week instead of the weekend.
“My tip for everyone is to visit midweek, if you can be flexible,” said Shawn Cassell, digital marketing and public relations manager at Snowshoe. This will help visitors avoid crowds, which will be the key to comfortable travel this year—plus, less time in lines means more time spent on the mountain. On top of that, midweek days offer generally lower price points, making it a more affordable vacation option.
Whether visitors arrive in pairs or with their pods, visit on the weekdays or the weekends, or want to enjoy a big day on the slopes or just relax in the resort, a trip to Snowshoe has something for everyone looking to get away this winter.
And more than anything, it offers ample opportunities for people to connect with nature while spending time together in a safe way.
“Many families are together more than they ever have been, but I think the family vacation is still important,” said Cassell. “We’ve got 11,000 acres and fresh mountain air. It’s the perfect place to get outdoors and spend quality time outside of your house. This season for us is all about trying to help people experience winter in person, and this is the best way to do it.”