My family and I drove to Canaan Valley, West Virginia on Sunday, January 2, 2000. The air temperature was about 70 degrees all the way out. We arrived in the late afternoon and passed on the opportunity to go night skiing at Canaan Valley or Timberline. Both were open.
We stayed at the Canaan Valley Resort (the state-run lodge complex) gratis, courtesy of a drawing I won at the Ballston Ski show in November. It pays to put entries in all those fish bowls! There was no cross country skiing and no natural snow on the ground, but I was told that they had a white Christmas with cold temperatures and about 6” of snow remaining on the ground for several days afterwards.
We had a very enjoyable spring skiing type day on the slopes of Canaan Valley on Monday, January 3. My 7 year old daughter progressed from a shaky start at the beginner area to a confident run down an easy black diamond trail in one day. Kids are amazing!
It was obvious that the earlier cold temperatures at Christmastime had provided the opportunity for extensive snowmaking. It’s a fairly interesting mountain and skis a little bigger than its 850’ vertical drop. I would give it a slight edge over say, an area like Whitetail. About 26 trails were open, including nice, long Timber Run (beginner) and many more advanced trails from the top of the mountain. However, the expert trail Gravity was not open and had no snow cover.
We attempted to go skiing on Tuesday, January 4, but heavy winds and rain pelted the area for hours starting at around 9:30 a.m. and we decided to bag it and drive home to the D.C area early. Despite the unexpected heat wave on Sunday and the tropical monsoon on Tuesday, they had a lot of trails open considering it was early January. Some of the trails had a base of as much as 6 or 7 feet of manmade snow on them, so with the return of seasonable weather I think ski conditions at Canaan Valley (and probably Timberline as well) will remain pretty good for the foreseeable future. (Note that Canaan Valley offers a “2 for the price of 1” deal on weekday lift tickets if you can show them a Safeway Club card obtainable free at any Safeway grocery store.)
I don’t ski in the Canaan Valley area very often so I can’t comment much on aprés ski, but I found the food at the Canaan Valley Resort dining room and at a nearby place on Rt. 32 called Tuckers to be only fair. The Canaan Valley Resort is nice, but the actual bedrooms are not too fancy. Of course the price was very right for me and it had some nice amenities; indoor pool/jacuzzi/sauna, exercise room, outdoor ice rink, and an extensive designated cross country skiing area if there had been natural snow. A convenient nonstop shuttle bus to and from the slopes (about 2 miles away) is operated all day long, every day. The folks at stores, restaurants, the ski resort area, etc. were really friendly.
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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