Firsthand Report: Massanutten
Author thumbnail By Connie Lawn, DCSki Columnist

A sweeping, breathtaking panorama of turquoise, Blue Ridge mountains. That is the incredible scene from the top of Virginia’s Massanutten Resort. It is high enough that the weather systems could easily be seen moving in. Brilliant sunshine in one section, followed by dark clouds that promised snow in the coming hours.

Massanutten is a bit further from the Washington, D.C. area than some of the nearby Pennsylvania resorts, and not as large. But, it is well worth the trip for variety. And, it is an excellent area for those who live or attend school nearby. Massanutten is 10 miles east of Harrisonburg, Virginia. It is relatively close to two other major Virginia resorts - Bryce and Wintergreen.

The day we were there, so were many others. The wait for the main quad chair was made tolerable by watching the little children and talking to the enthusiastic older ones. It is a marvelous family area. The general manager, Steve Showalter, says the crowds were unexpected, but the area handled it well. The sunshine and relative thaw induced people to play outdoors. Most of the cars we saw had license tags from Virginia and North Carolina - there were fewer cars from Maryland and Pennsylvania. Steve has lived in the area since 1977, and devoted much of his life to developing Massanutten. It is an enormous resort area, with a huge hotel, convention center, condos, restaurants, and golf courses. Certainly well worth a visit.

The trails my husband and I preferred were the most difficult ones at the top. ParaDice and Diamond Jim were smooth and easy cruisers compared to the black diamonds in Pennsylvania. But, they were packed, well groomed, and fast. And, that view!

The vertical drop is 1,100 feet, with 14 trails open and 6 lifts operating. The trails are usually open until 10 p.m. at night, with tubingopen until 9 p.m. Massanutten is off Route 33 in Virginia, and there are several ways to approach it. It is a beautiful ride, and should best be undertaken during the day, to appreciate the countryside. Savor the entire experience of the visit, and enjoy the skiing - as well as the Virginia experience of Massanutten, including a beginner trail named Southern Comfort and an intermediate trail named Rebel Yell. Give a yell for us, but not a Dean screech!

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About Connie Lawn

When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.

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