Better Late than Never: Aggressive Snowmaking Underway as Flood of Resorts Prepare for Weekend Opening 7
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

With temperatures finally falling below freezing, and the forecast showing that they’ll stay there for awhile, the first major volley of snowmaking has hit the mid-Atlantic region. So far this season, the only local resorts able to snatch opening dates have been North Carolina’s Sugar Mountain and West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Last night, snowguns rang out at resorts in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina, while several areas dug out of some natural snow courtesy of Mother Nature.

Sugar Mountain was the first resort in the region to open this season, opening a top-to-bottom run on November 26, 2004. The opening was short-lived; the resort was forced to close the trail after warm weather settled back over the region. The resort is now open again with 4 trails available as of Monday.

Snowmaking and natural snow fall Monday at West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Photo provided by Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

Snowshoe Mountain Resort opened four trails on December 3, and had increased its open trail count to 8 by yesterday. Ten inches of fresh powder fell on Snowshoe from Saturday through Monday, and with over 200 snowguns roaring, Snowshoe hopes to offer 30 open trails at the Snowshoe and Silver Creek areas. Snowshoe plans to open the Spruce Glas Terrain Park on Thursday. Open trails will have a 2-3 foot base. With the cold temperatures at Snowshoe, it is likely the resort will have close to 100% terrain open by the upcoming holiday period.

Now, the push is on for a deluge of resort openings, and DCSki expects the ropes to drop at many additional resorts by this weekend.

Maryland’s Wisp Resort is currently shooting for an opening on Friday, December 17. Wisp received several inches of snow over the weekend and expects to receive 6-8 inches more today and tomorrow. The resort has started round-the-clock snowmaking efforts.

Wisp plans to open Squirrel Cage, The Face, Boulder, Possum, Belly Flop and the Wisp Trail, with East Ridge trails coming on-line next week. Over the summer, Wisp’s snowmaking capacity was increased by 18% with the addition of a new $3 million pumphouse.

Pennsylvania’s Seven Springs Resort also received some recent fresh snow, and is blasting the guns in an effort to open some trails by this weekend. The resort plans to announce opening details later on Tuesday.

A WebCam shot captures early snowmaking efforts last night at Pennsylvania’s Whitetail Resort. Photo provided by Whitetail Resort.

Ski Roundtop and Whitetail began aggressive snowmaking efforts last night. Whitetail began making snow on beginner, intermediate, and expert terrain, including Limelight, Angel Drop, Homerun, Exhibition, and the Snow Tubing Park.

Other Pennsylvania resorts planning to open over the next few days include Alpine Mountain, Blue Knob, Camelback, Elk Mountain, Montage Mountain, and Shawnee Mountain.

Virginia’s Massanutten Resort has begun snowmaking, and is shooting for an opening on Friday or Saturday, December 18. The Homestead and Bryce resorts also hope to open in the next few days. Wintergreen began making snow on Saturday night and plans to open by December 18.

Currently, the only downhill ski area open in West Virginia is Snowshoe Mountain Resort, but Snowshoe will be joined by its peers later this week. Canaan Valley Resort, Timberline, and Winterplace have all begun making snow and are shooting to open by this weekend. Canaan Valley Resort will be offering $5 lift tickets on December 17, 18, and 19, 2004, to anyone who donates a new, unwrapped toy values at $5 or more to Toys or Tots. Donations may be dropped off at the ticket office or at the front desk.

With the cold temperatures and aggressive snowmaking efforts, mid-Altantic skiers and boarders should soon have a wide choice of resorts to visit. As always, DCSki recommends contacting a resort prior to making a visit to receive the latest condition information. Some resorts may offer limited terrain or limited hours early in the season, so best to call ahead.

To view weather information and snowmaking forecasts for local resorts, don’t forget to check the DCSki Weather Page.

About M. Scott Smith

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.

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Reader Comments

December 14, 2004
The ski season is now in full force. As soon as we get our pins and wax our skis (yes, some of us live in Florida and have to wait!) it will be time to hit the slopes!
December 14, 2004
I moved to the D.C. area this summer and wanted to know the true drive time to get to Snowshoe. Mapquest indicates a 5.25 hour drive time with approximately 250 miles from my house in Takoma Park MD. What is the real drive time. Thanks
December 14, 2004
I live in Takoma Park. You can make it in 4.5 hours with no traffic and no stops. But it usually takes 5 hours to get there if you stop for a bite to eat and gas. Go to the Q&A section of and there are various directions discussed on how to get to Snowshoe. I use the directions on the web site-- 66 W to 81 S to 33 W to 220 S to 84 W to 92/28 N to Rte 66 through Cass and then 6 miles to the back entrance of Snowshoe. This route adds a few more miles than others. But it cuts out one of the big winding mountain passes. Also, there are fewer small towns with over-achieving police officers. And there are lots of straight sections and passing lane areas on 33, 220 and 92/28 to pass slow trucks and passive agressive minivan drivers. see--

The web page says 3 miles from Cass. But it's 6.

You can also bypass a lot of the traffic lights in Harrisonburg on Route 33 by taking the first Harrisonburg exit for route 11. Go South on 11 and follow the signs "To 42". Take 42 South to 33 West.
December 15, 2004
Hi Matthew,

I'll be making that drive to Snowshoe for the first time on Christmas weekend. You recommended the route given by Snowshoe while others have commented that the I66 to I81 to 55 to 28 and then to 66 route is better. I assume the later is the route w/ the speed traps? What's your opinion on the alternative route?

Also, anyone know what it would be like over Christmas weekend as far as crowds are concerned?

Thanks in advance.
December 15, 2004

The route along 55 has the towns with the speed traps. I've never been to Snowshoe at X-mas. But if slopes are crowded at the Snowshoe area, then head over to the Silver Creek trails.
kim w
December 15, 2004
As a former pt ski instructor at the shoe I found that the best roads (least traffic and most direct route) was to get to 33w at Harrisonburg, to 28s through Greenbank and then 66 through Cass taking the new entrance off of the top of the mountain. It would take me 3.5 hours from Culpeper, but with the new entrance it shouldn't be more than 3hrs/ 15 min. That would be 2 hrs/ 15 min from Harrisonburg, VA on dry roads. If a cold font comes through, expect white roads at elevation, adding 30 to 45 minutes especially with the switchbacks on 66 and the new shoe entrance road. As far as crowds, it won't be bad prior to Christmas, but the week between holidays can be a challange. My advice is to ski early (when they drop the ropes) on the basin side then head to Widowmaker which usually isn't crowded, or the western territory or Silver Creek via shuttle. The shoe is a destination resort and has thousands of visitors from the south during major holiday periods.
DCSki Reader
February 6, 2007
i love snows hoe

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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