One thing we all love about living here is that you don’t have to give up anything to be in D.C. -- a couple hours in one direction and you’re at the beach; a couple hours in the other and you’ve got the mountains. Even though our region isn’t really known for its slopes, you can still get a pretty close approximation of a mountain within an hour or two of the District. This makes for an excellent day trip: load the car in the morning, be on the slopes by 9 a.m., get your money’s worth with eight hours of skiing, and be home for dinner.
The following resorts lie within a two-hour drive of the city limits. Yes, they’re crowded on weekends and you’ll probably wait an hour for rentals; no, the terrain doesn’t exactly rival Whistler; and you’re right, powder days here are few and far between. But not all of us have the time or money for a big trip out west or up north, so lace up those boots and take advantage of what we’ve got nearby. If a powder day does come up, you don’t want to miss it.
Distances are approximations from Washington, D.C. Rates are given for one adult weekend day lift ticket. Rate, trail, and lift information is subject to change by the resort.
Liberty: You can’t beat the 60-minute drive to Liberty, but don’t come here looking for a lot of expert runs. A cluster of blues will keep intermediate skiers and snowboarders busy for a while, and boarders also love the terrain park. Opening weekend is December 5. 75 miles away in Carroll Valley, Pa., near Gettysburg. 16 trails and 8 lifts. www.skiliberty.com. Daily 8 hour passes are $45 midweek and $56 weekend.
Whitetail: If you can come on a less-crowded weekday, you’ll have a better time at Whitetail, a popular weekend day trip from D.C., Baltimore, and various places in Pennsylvania. A couple of mogul-ridden black diamonds are often the only trails you’ll have to yourself and make Whitetail a good place to brush up on your skills. Opening weekend December 5. 90 miles away in Mercersburg, Pa. 19 trails and 6 lifts -- including 4 quads, so lines move quickly. www.skiwhitetail.com.
Roundtop: Offers state-of-the-art snowmaking on a beginner-friendly hill. Roundtop is already open! 100 miles away in Lewisberry, Pa. 16 trails and 8 lifts. www.skiroundtop.com. 8 hour daily passes are $45 midweek and $53 on weekends.
Massanutten: Boasts the highest vertical drop of any ski area in Virginia, Maryland, or Pennsylvania, as well scenic views of the Shenandoah Valley. Opening December 5. 120 miles away, just east of Harrisonburg, Va. 14 trails and 6 lifts. www.massresort.com. Early season tickets are $32 weekdays and $38 weekends.
If you want to make a weekend out of it and get a hotel, try these resorts, which are farther away but a substantial step up in the quality of your skiing/boarding experience:
Seven Springs: Was named in Ski Magazine’s 2007 reader survey among the top ski resorts in the East. Some people know Seven Springs for its base lodge, instead; it’s the largest in Pennsylvania. Seven Springs is already open and running. Located 200 miles away in Champion, Pa. -- an hour south of Pittsburgh. 31 trails and 14 lifts. www.7springs.com All-Day single pass: $44.
Snowshoe: Ski Magazine also listed Snowshoe as one of the top East Coast mountains. Venturing a little farther from home into West Virginia, you can visit the largest and most popular resort in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, with some of the best snow and snowmaking in the region. Look for the base facilities at the top of the mountain. 250 miles away in Snowshoe, W. Va. 57 trails and 14 lifts. www.snowshoemtn.com. Early and late season daily rate for day pass is $55 and regular rate for day pass is $75.
Wintergreen: Wintergreen has the most varied terrain you can find in Virginia. First-time lessons guarantee to get you turning, stopping, and riding a lift during your first lesson. 150 miles away in Wintergreen, Va., near Charlottesville. 24 trails and 5 lifts -- including two high-speed, 6-passenger lifts. www.wintergreenresort.com. Weekday single passes are $47 and weekend single passes are $65.
Canaan Valley: Is nestled in 6,000 acres of state parkland. Timberline, just a few miles away, has several double black diamonds for more experienced skiers and riders, and the South’s longest trail -- two miles. You’ll find pretty good natural snow at both. 180 miles away near Davis, W. Va. Canaan Valley: 21 trails and 4 lifts; www.canaanresort.com. Value Season and weekday single day passes are $30 and prime season weekend passes are $49. Timberline: 36 trails and 3 lifts; www.timberlineresort.com. $1.00 lift tickets on opening day December 4, early season weekdays are $31, weekends $35, prime season weekdays are $37, and prime season weekends are $55.
Wisp Resort: The resort at Deep Creek Lake is home to Maryland’s only ski slopes, as well as relatively reliable conditions for the region. 180 miles away in McHenry, Md. 32 trails and 12 lifts. www.skiwisp.com. Early season rates are $32, peak season weekday rates are $39, and peak season weekend rates are $59.