Beginner skiers
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BeginnerSkier
11 days ago
Member since 05/11/2022 🔗
2 posts
We are planning a family ski trip during the winter holiday with kids (10,11).  We are willing to drive maximum of 6 hours from DC area.  This will be our first ski trip.  Which Ski mountain and resorts would you recommend?  
Mongo
11 days ago
Member since 02/24/2015 🔗
66 posts

If your kids have never skied before, then Ski Liberty or Snowshoe have good ski schools. My kids learned at both of them - though that was 6+ years ago now. Those places are also reasonably affordable. SL can be a big crowded PITA on weekends, of course.

If you plan to ski at least several times, then the ski swap program at Alpine Ski Shop is worth it relative to renting.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
11 days ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,800 posts

BeginnerSkier wrote:

We are planning a family ski trip during the winter holiday with kids (10,11).  We are willing to drive maximum of 6 hours from DC area.  This will be our first ski trip.  Which Ski mountain and resorts would you recommend?  

 Are you all beginners, including the adults?  Would it be during the usual winter break?  How many nights are you thinking about?

Consider Bryce.  It's 2.0-2.5 hours drive depending on exactly where you are in DC metro.  There is slopeside lodging available if you book early enough.  Plenty of condos and houses to rent from VRBO/AirBnB within a mile or two.

Bryce is part of the Indy Pass.  Indy provides 2 days at not only Bryce, but also Massanutten and Canaan Valley.  A third day is available at a discount.  The deadline for the lowest price is May 17.  Note that you would probably need Indy+ because that works for any date, including during holiday periods.

indyskipass.com

My home mountain is Massanutten.  It's a great place to learn to ski.  You can book a Family Lesson on weekends.  There is more terrain at Massanutten than Bryce.  There is also more to do that isn't related to skiing.  Of course, you'll end up spending more for fun stuff like snow tubing, the indoor waterpark, the zipline, and/or ice skating.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
11 days ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,800 posts
Another Indy location that's less well know is Montage, near Scranton, PA.  Any ski area will be busy during a holiday period, but Montage might be a bit less crowded than a resort with slopeside lodging.  Montage has good beginner terrain.  Even has a short chairlift specifically so beginners can get comfortable with loading and unloading.  It's very family friendly since their primary market are people who live within an hour or so and do day trips on weekends.
wgo
11 days ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,451 posts

RE: Montage - FWIW when I was there the last week of December back in 2019 the liftlines were not bad at all. The fact that it is further north then some of the other DC area options may be another advantage in terms of how much terrain they have open (although these days who knows?). 

Snowshoe is guaranteed to be aggressive in their early season snowmaking but the last week in December can be very, very crowded.

BeginnerSkier
11 days ago (edited 11 days ago)
Member since 05/11/2022 🔗
2 posts

Thank you all!   Which mountain has better snow conditions?   Understand that it’s different year to year.   My kids and husband ski few times before but it will be my first.   So I am looking for nice easy trail but also nice conditions so hopefully we will like it and make it into a yearly thing.

also,  which resort would you recommend at Montage?

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
10 days ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,800 posts

BeginnerSkier wrote:

Thank you all!   Which mountain has better snow conditions?   Understand that it’s different year to year.   My kids and husband ski few times before but it will be my first.   So I am looking for nice easy trail but also nice conditions so hopefully we will like it and make it into a yearly thing.

also,  which resort would you recommend at Montage?

 Montage is a ski area only.  Lodging would be a hotel within a few miles drive.  I've stayed at the Best Western near the airport, but that's only because Best Western is my chain of choice when I'm looking for a motel room.

For a winter break ski trip, the factors are temperatures in the first few weeks of December and snowmaking infrastructure.  Bryce has been around slightly longer than Massanutten.  Bryce is an a "cold spot" so tends to be able to start making snow pretty early.  Also doesn't have that many acres to cover.  Massanutten has had slopes open for 50 years.  Montage's current owner has invested a lot of money into snowmaking in recent years.  As someone mentioned, the advantage for Montage is that it's farther north.

The early season situation for Liberty and Whitetail is harder to predict based on recent experience with Vail Resorts as the owner.  If it's too warm leading up to Christmas week, could be very crowded on the few slopes that get open.

Every mountain has 1-2 very easy beginning trails.  All mountains have Green, Blue, and Black trails on the trail map.  Green simply means that's the easiest terrain for that particular place.  Blue trails are a little harder but perhaps only in one section.  A black trail in VA may be easier than a blue trail in PA, NY, or VT.

The question is whether or not there are intermediates and advanced skiers who end up skiing there because it's on their way to the lodge.  Massanutten has a separate beginner trail that's relatively new called the Meadow.  It's completely out of traffic from the rest of the mountain and served by a magic carpet.  Won't be much of a line at any time.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
10 days ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,800 posts

BeginnerSkier wrote:

My kids and husband ski few times before but it will be my first.   So I am looking for nice easy trail but also nice conditions so hopefully we will like it and make it into a yearly thing.

 May be a few months before all the ski areas have info for the 2022-23 ski season on their websites.  One factor to consider is whether or not there will be group lessons or Beginner packages offered.  Used to be that every ski area did that.  But with staff shortages for instructors, some resorts are only offering private or Family lessons.

Note that a private lesson or two can be the best investment for a good start as a "never-ever" beginning skier.  I can recommend instructors by name at Massanutten if that's of interest.  My daughter learned to ski at Mnut starting at age 4 and she just graduated from college.  What's perhaps more relevant to your situation is that my friend starting skiing when her kids were in ski school at ages 4 and 6 some years back.  She has done private lessons at Mnut pretty regularly after the first group lesson.  She's become a solid intermediate who can ski blue groomed trails at Alta in Utah with very good form because of the lessons.

AndyGene
10 days ago
Member since 09/9/2013 🔗
229 posts

You didn't ask this, but I believe firmly that Canaan Valley has the best beginner area around.  The little triangle on the bottom right of the map is exquisite.  The issue here being they don't make much snow.  Areas open that arent the beginner area are often slim.  No real resort area around it.

The best beginner slope in the area is the Salamander at Timberline.  a few miles of easy cruising.  But you need to have a lot of confidence in the bunny slope.  The new owners make lots of snow.  Still no resort area.

Snowshoe is the best place if you are looking for a complete vacation.  They make a ton of snow.  They have more shopping, restaurants and bars.  It's also more expensive and more crowded.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
9 days ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,800 posts

AndyGene wrote:

You didn't ask this, but I believe firmly that Canaan Valley has the best beginner area around.  The little triangle on the bottom right of the map is exquisite.  The issue here being they don't make much snow.  Areas open that arent the beginner area are often slim.  No real resort area around it.

The best beginner slope in the area is the Salamander at Timberline.  a few miles of easy cruising.  But you need to have a lot of confidence in the bunny slope.  The new owners make lots of snow.  Still no resort area.

Snowshoe is the best place if you are looking for a complete vacation.  They make a ton of snow.  They have more shopping, restaurants and bars.  It's also more expensive and more crowded.

 Driving from DC, I'm not convinced that CV, Timberline, or Snowshoe are that much better for a never-ever adult beginner.  Agree that CV/Timberline in Davis, WV are not "ski resorts" but good "ski areas."  Timberline certainly has great snowmaking and operations under the Perfect ownership.  The teaching area for Snowshoe at the Basin is in a congested area.  The greens are longs and often have fast skiers on them, which can be intimidating for a beginner.  Much better over at Silver Creek, but for most people that requires a free shuttle bus ride.

I would take a never-ever to Bryce over CV when driving from DC.  The terrain progression for beginners at Massanutten is better than Timberline, especially with the addition of Meadow.  As a 4-season resort with plenty of non-skiing activities, as well as Harrisonburg 20 min away, there is plenty to do at Mnut when off the slopes.  Being able to consider the Indy Pass for a family of 4 to ski Bryce and Massanutten is a plus.

Blue Don 1982 - DCSki Supporter 
7 days ago (edited 7 days ago)
Member since 01/13/2008 🔗
1,516 posts


We've found Hidden Valley Resort to be very family-friendly and has several beginner trails.  Whenever we ski with newcomers to skiing, we usually take them to HV first.  Other advantages are onsite lodging and a couple of dining options.  It's also a short drive to 7 Springs and Laurel Mountain if you wanted to add some variety to your trip.  HV is an easy drive from DC and is located 15 minutes or so from the PA turnpike.

If you run into a foul weather day (rain) and needed something to do, HV is about an hour from Pittsburgh.

As a former homeowner at Snowshoe, I would not recommend it on a holiday.  They will have the most open but the crowds will be unbearable.

BeginnerSkier wrote:

We are planning a family ski trip during the winter holiday with kids (10,11).  We are willing to drive maximum of 6 hours from DC area.  This will be our first ski trip.  Which Ski mountain and resorts would you recommend?  
Denis - DCSki Supporter 
7 days ago
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,281 posts

Blue Don 1982 wrote:

As a former homeowner at Snowshoe, I would not recommend it on a holiday.  They will have the most open but the crowds will be unbearable.

And many of them will have enthusiasm that far exceeds their skill.

 

Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter 
7 days ago
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,936 posts

I'm going to second the Hidden Valley as a good choice. Last winter, Vail Resorts purchased Hidden Valley, Seven Springs, and Laurel Mountain. Hidden Valley has excellent snowmaking capacity and better quality snow than their sister resorts which also have high capacity snowmaking but use a different system. If there is adequate cold weather and no rain in the week before your arrival, all three resorts will have good coverage. Last season there were worker shortages, but Vail upped hourly pay to $20.00 to attract more seasonal workers. Employment issues could be the wildcard again next season.

All three resorts could be skied on the same weekend ticket in the past but last year. Next winter, the Epic Day Pass would be the option. The cost per day comes down depending on how many days you purchase (between 1 and 7 days). Also, that same-day pass could be used at many other Vail-owned Resorts in the region at any time during the season. The pass is not transferable, meaning each family member must buy their own pass. Details here: https://www.epicpass.com/Passes/Epic-Day-Pass

Also, if the weather does not cooperate, Seven Springs has a bowling alley and a huge game room where the kids play games for tickets to redeem for prizes. There is an indoor pool, a spa, and many small boutique shops in the hotel complex. There are several dining options and a full-service ski shop on-premises. If you stay at Seven Springs, a free bus shuttle serves the parking lots and many nearby condos within the Seven Springs resort. Unfortunately, there is no shuttle service between the three resorts. All three resorts are within an hour's drive of each other. Laurel will be the least crowded, but the snowmaking is limited to 35 acres of the <100 acres of trails. The green-rated novice trail at Laurel is a bit much for the true beginner. Hidden Valley is the option for beginners. The snowsports school at Hidden Valley has been very good.

Other off-mountain attractions include a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house, about a 30-minute drive from Seven Springs or Hidden Valley. https://fallingwater.org/

The town of Ligioner ligonier.com (near Laurel Mountain) is a real town with several dining options, a bowling alley, a small movie theater, a French and Indian War museum, and a completely reconstructed British Fort. Unfortunately, only the adjacent museum is open during the winter. Also, there are art galleries and several boutique shops. One need not travel to Pittsburgh to find things to do. 

rbrtlav
6 days ago (edited 6 days ago)
Member since 12/2/2008 🔗
537 posts
If everyone is a complete beginner and you are looking to ski a whole week, it may be worth looking at the silver creek only pass at snowshoe. It’s $269 and they have their own ski school there and it comes with some rental, lodging, and food discounts. Silver creek won’t be as crowded as the main area, but will have more limited trails. Depending on your group I’d at least consider this if you are looking at being there 3+ days. Silver creek has some condos with pool/hot tub, the tubing park, and a restaurant in addition to the slopes.

Another perk of the pass is if people enjoy it you could come back later in the season and ski “free”. The silver creek pass is also good in the basin the first few weeks and last week of the season.

edit: otherwise I’d look at the epic day passes for the PA region+holidays and go with some of the other suggestions. 
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