Most Mid-Atlantic ski resorts have now kicked off their 2020-2021 winter season, thanks to snowmaking-friendly colder temperatures in recent weeks and some natural snow. With continued colder temperatures in the days ahead (after a rainy Christmas Eve), resorts are looking to expand open terrain as they head into the important holiday week. But this year is a bit different than past years, due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic. Ski areas have had to adapt to the realities of COVID-19, implementing new practices this winter to keep guests safe.
In Pennsylvania, Seven Springs first opened on December 12, 2020, and is now open daily. Note that lift ticket reservations are required in advance. Since December 12, Seven Springs has expanded open terrain to 19 trails with a 24-30 inch base depth. In the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve, Seven Springs received 20 inches of natural snowfall.
Hidden Valley Resort has also opened for the season, and Laurel Mountain plans on opening on Saturday, December 26.
Further west in Pennsylvania, Blue Knob has 4 trails open.
Whitetail had its opening day on Sunday, December 20.
“Opening day conditions were about as good as you can ask for,” said DCSki reader Michael Dewhirst. “I got on the mountain around 9:05 a.m. and all the trails were hard packed corduroy.”
Michael reports that fellow guests seemed to adhere well to COVID protocols. Whitetail staff handed out flyers to guests as they arrived at the mountain explaining COVID protocols and also checked that all guests had reservations.
“Overall my visit was very streamlined and didn’t feel too different than a normal day on the mountain, other than eating lunch in the parking lot,” said Michael.
Nearby Liberty and Roundtop Mountain Resorts have also opened for the season. Like Whitetail, lift ticket reservations are required in advance of visiting.
In Maryland, Wisp Resort has opened 14 trails.
Virginia’s Massanutten Resort has kicked off its ski season and had five trails and five lifts open on Christmas Eve. The resort reports that night sessions are not yet available, but will be offered soon.
Also in Virginia, Bryce Resort is up and running with 5 trails.
The mountains of West Virginia receive a lot of snow, and that’s helped ski areas there kick off the season with strong conditions.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort has 32 trails open, and is expecting more natural snow in the coming days.
Canaan Valley Resort opened for the season on December 19, 2020. The ski area had expanded its open terrain from a few trails on opening day to a total of 14 by Christmas Eve. The ski area also has numerous holiday events planned.
“We are also excited to tell you about our New Years celebration. We will not be hosting a large gathering this year, however, a new fireworks display will be taking place over top of the ski area instead,” explained Canaan Valley Resort’s Mark Moody. “This will be viewable from the lodge and is sure to be a spectacular way to ring in the New Year,” he added.
Nearby, a rejuvenated Timberline Mountain also re-opened under new ownership. Guests to Timberline were treated to brand new lifts, including West Virginia’s first “six-pack” high-speed lift.
Before visiting any Mid-Atlantic ski areas, please check with the resort to determine current COVID-19 operating protocols and availability. Most ski areas in the region are requiring lift ticket reservations in advance, with many enforcing capacity limits to prevent overcrowding. Ski areas are also requiring guests to wear masks and practice social distancing in areas such as lift lines. Please wear your mask when required and follow the directions of resort personnel. Although DCSki readers are reporting that most guests are following protocols, DCSki is hearing from ski areas that some guests are causing difficulty and making life tough for lift attendants and other resort employees.
Also be sure to check the DCSki Forum, where readers are providing numerous Firsthand Reports from visits to Mid-Atlantic ski areas.
M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.