short driving trip
11 posts
6 users
1k+ views
wojo
January 17, 2005
Member since 01/17/2005
294 posts
Hello All. Looking for a suggestion for Jan 28-Feb 2 for 1 adult and 2 kids. Fairfax County schools off, so looking for something other than Snowshoe and Seven Springs. Will likely drive. Would like the following: Instructors/programs for kids 7 and 12, cheap lodging :-), drivable from the Dulles Airport area, I know about Snowshoe, what about places in PA or NY with 50ish runs?? Suggestions appreciated.
LordHedgie
January 17, 2005
Member since 12/1/2004
49 posts
I would suggest Hunter or Windham, or both. They're just a few miles from each other, so you could check them both out. If you want something to do after skiing, Albany is pretty close.
warren
January 18, 2005
Member since 07/31/2003
485 posts
If you're looking for a short trip, I think you'll find that Hunter and Windham are not exactly short. The drive looks to be over 6 hours A much shorter drive would be Canaan/Timberline. The ski and play programs there are good. That's where my daughter first started (ski and play at Canaan) when she was 4. Between there and the Snowshoe school, she's been taught to rip it up (she's now 9) The drive would take from 3 - 4 hours vs 6+.

-Warren-
LordHedgie
January 18, 2005
Member since 12/1/2004
49 posts
I can make the trip to Windham in about six, a little less if I don't stop.

The trick is:

(a) Go up through PA, rather than through NYC
(b) Live north of DC/Baltimore to begin with

I guess I just don't consider six hours to be a long drive. I've got a 45 mile commute each way to work, so it's less than three times what I spend in the car in an average day....
JimK - DCSki Columnist
January 19, 2005
Member since 01/14/2004
2,646 posts
There is a skiing void between about 4hrs and 8hrs from DC. Generally, nothing within 4hrs tops the likes of Snowshoe, Seven Springs, etc. in size or diversity. (Blue Knob offers a special niche for advanced skiers willing to take a chance on dicey conditions.) Around 8hrs there are a number of sizeable choices like Mt. Snow, Stratton, Gore, Okemo that have verticals about double of those within 4hrs. The only sort of compromise has been mentioned, Hunter and some of the other ski areas in the Catskills of NY. They are about 6.5 hrs from DC. I went to Hunter and Windham in the Catskills many years ago, not bad, but have never returned because for a couple hrs more the skiing is significantly more interesting in Vermont or upstate NY.

You didn't mention Wisp in your list of familiar areas closer to DC. It might fit your needs and offers a pretty nice alternative about 3 hrs from DC in western MD. Search DCSki for more info and articles on Wisp.

Forgot to mention, you probably don't want to consider Hunter Mtn on a weekend. Unless you like crowds from NYC, which can be very bad there in mid-season.
tromano
January 19, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
LordHedgie,

Anything over 4 hours is generaly considered inconvenient / a long time to spend in the car. This is because if you get started pretty early (by most people's reconing) at 5 AM you ahve 4 hours to get to the resort for opening lifts. So for anything over 6 hours you start to loose a good fraction of your skiing day to travel or you have to start the night before and spend an extra night lodging. Which = less money for future travel.
snowcone
January 20, 2005
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
I second Wisp. Its close, family oriented, has a wickedly good ski school and the rates at the hotel are not outrageous. I would recommend that if Wisp fits your needs you call them immediately to book; the hotel fills up quickly. To check it all out: www.skiwisp.com
wojo
January 25, 2005
Member since 01/17/2005
294 posts
Thanks for all the info and comments. Could not get the kids classes I needed at WISP and I wanted something new I ended up choosing Windham (I am a Whitetail Advantage card guy). Wow, great deal, hotel 35$, lift 25$ for the day.

Looking for suggestions on directions (leaving from Townson, returning to Dulles).

Going? 83 to Harrisburg then 81 to 88? or Philly then something else??

Home?? suggestions appreciated.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
January 25, 2005
Member since 01/14/2004
2,646 posts
Have fun and let us know how it went when you get back. Sounds like a good plan to take advantage of your "advantage". How many days skiing? All at Windham? Your weekdays should normally be totally crowd free anywhere in Catskills.
Did you mean departing from Towson, MD? From there it might be 45 mins quicker to go up 95 thru NJ to catch 87, but you will find it a lot less stressful to take 83 to 81, then across 84 near Scranton and up 87. If coming back directly to Dulles, you might consider return thru Scranton and 81, then at Harrisburg take 15 down to near Dulles?? Consult your friendly mapquest.
wojo
February 5, 2005
Member since 01/17/2005
294 posts
Feedback on my trip to Windham :
The trip was great and the mountain in wonderful shape. I took a 12 year old strong intermediate and an 8 year old beginner who was skiing very tentative after being run over at Whitetail. I drove from Towson, MD in about 7 hours last Sunday during the snowstorm and arrived in the evening. We returned via Scranton/Harrisburg to Herndon (6 hours and 40 minutes, 400 miles). We got our room upgraded to a suite (king-size bed and pull out queen couch with a whirl pool tub. Continental breakfast included. (I have a Whitetail Advantage card which gets you the equivalent discount (50% off lift tickets, 25$ all day, and hotel midweek, single 35$, but no equipment discount).

The eastern side of the mountain has some wonderful blue/green cruisers with several cutouts for the more adventurous in the group; Warpath has some great whales to ski over. There are several steep double blacks that got groomed while we were there (Wedel/Wheelchiar/Wolverine) that run half way down the mountain to nice wide blues with one side groomed. Those of you looking for lots of challenging steep runs with moguls should go somewhere else though. There were two un-groomed runs and two with one side un-groomed. I skipped the "natural areas" after talking to some boarders who went through them, sounded to skied out and rocky. There were two pretty well maintained terrain parks and one nice half pipe. The Western hill has some very nice steeps and one completely un-groomed run under the lift and a loooong green cruiser. I don't think we waited for more than 30 seconds to get on a lift.

I put my 8 year old in the Children's Learning Center the first half day thinking it would be mostly skiing, but it was half babysitting. Next day was a group lesson (of one) followed by a group lesson of three. The instructors were all different but excellent (there are apparently 300 instructors so requesting one would not be feasible). The employees are as nice as Whitetail's and remember you day to day (at least mid week they do) . The lodge is modern and well laid out with a nice cafeteria, bar and grill, separate rental area, . . . ). Menu was standard ski cafeteria and not too expensive (we brought our own though). The town was dead mid-week, but I was not out to party.

Bottom Line is it is completely different skiing on a 1600 foot mountain than a 900+ foot mountains in PA. Wraparound and Wanderer (long greens) took about 15 minutes to get down the hill. We had a great time and I am looking forward to going back. Everyone on the lifts had high praise for Windham (over Hunter). On the next trip up I will have to compare them
wojo
February 5, 2005
Member since 01/17/2005
294 posts
ooops, forgot to thank everyone for the good advice and comments. Go DCSKI
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