Firsthand Report: Super Sunday at Bryce Resort 5
Author thumbnail By Jim Kenney, DCSki Columnist

If you or friends and family enjoy intermediate skiing and riding, or want to improve your skills from beginner status, then Bryce Resort in northern Virginia is an excellent crowd-beating option that you must check out -; only 90 miles from the Capital Beltway via I-66 and I-81. I took family members to Bryce on Super Bowl Sunday, February 6, 2011. It was a beautiful sunny day and unbelievably uncrowded. Is uncrowded a word? I’m not sure, but on the slopes of Bryce it is a way of life even on many weekends.

Hangover Trail. Photo provided by Jim Kenney.

I have skied Bryce on and off since the 1960s. It has eight trails, a 500-foot vertical drop, and two double chairs. What keeps bringing me back is that this ski hill is the absolute best close-in venue to take a group of learners and intermediates seeking elbow room on the slopes. The drive from the DC area is just a few minutes longer than “the busy places,” the prices are a little lower, and the crowds are way less. Plus, the mountain is extremely well run with a comprehensive, modern snowmaking system.

The terrain is most suitable for novices and intermediates, but a few of the runs have enough pitch to keep an advanced skier entertained as evidenced by Bryce’s highly regarded racing and teaching tradition. All these factors make for a superior experience for snowriders looking to work on their game or just chill on the slopes (no pun intended).

Bryce Resort has low crowds, great snowmaking, and beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain vistas. Photo provided by Jim Kenney.

Bryce survived the recent rains in good shape. Trail surfaces were soft, forgiving and fun. Sunday lift lines never exceeded five or ten PEOPLE! We took turns exploring each of eight distinctive runs. The novices in my group loved Red Eye which is the easiest route from the top as it sweeps around the looker’s left side of the ski layout. My favorite is the short, but steep and narrow Hangover trail.

Another trail with good continuous pitch is Bootlegger, which is often set up with gates for racing events. There is even one exceptionally wide trail called Locher Bowl, named after the family that has managed Bryce ski area for decades.

Super Bowl Sunday is known to be a good mid-winter day to visit US ski areas as many folks hunker down at home to watch the big game, but the private club/light-traffic atmosphere at Bryce is something else all together and characteristic of all my visits there in recent years. This mountain is most definitely open to the public and the resort’s infrastructure is well established with a lodge complex, rental equipment, and full service snowsports school.

Practicing the Texas Tuck. Photo provided by Jim Kenney.

There is a very benign beginner area with three magic carpet lifts aimed at teaching young children. At the base there is also a popular tubing park. Somewhat unusual for the region, there is a runway just a few hundred yards from the slopes serving small private planes. We saw a number of them taking off during the day.

Bryce Resort offers many four-season attractions and has numerous nearby vacation rental properties that probably host more visitors in summer than winter. Next time you are wavering about whether to go skiing on a prime weekend because you don’t want to hassle with crowds, think Bryce. If your group includes novices and intermediates they’ll have a super time.

Cousins. Photo provided by Jim Kenney.
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About Jim Kenney

Husband, father and retired civilian employee of the Department of Navy, Jim Kenney is a D.C. area native and has been skiing recreationally since 1967. Jim's ski reporting garnered the 2009 West Virginia Division of Tourism's Stars of the Industry Award for Best Web/Internet/E-Magazine Article.

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Reader Comments

Woody
February 18, 2011
Great article and pics, Jim ... and a reminder that big mountain skiing is not the be-all and end-all for everyone. You inspired me to check out Bryce again after I'd first visited five years ago. Had a fine time. The snow was in very good shape despite the February thaw! (Just a note on geography: those mts are the nearby Alleghenies -- Great North Mtn,etc. -- rather than the Blue Ridge.)
tskski
February 18, 2011
Looking to the east from Bryce you do see the Blue Ridge, the Alleghenies are to the west
Woody
February 18, 2011
Bryce faces north, right into Great North Mtn (Alleghenies). East of Bryce, across I-81, is the Massanutten Mountain range, which is geologically part of the Alleghenies, not the Blue Ridge. The Blue Ridge Mts lie east of Mthe assanuttens.
DC Ski Reader
February 19, 2011
Woody's right. Bryce to me faces north and west, the only view to the east is at the top of Redeye and that is tree obstructed if my memory is right. But most definitely a GW National Forest view.
Ski Mom
February 22, 2011
We have been to Bryce two times this season. I have found that it is the best place for young families. My 6, 4, and 3 year old feel free to get out and explore the whole mountain. There are no crowds or out of control teens bumping into them. I love that the parking lot is so close to the hill. Moving all of the gear at other resorts almost kills me! Everyone is super friendly and helpful.

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