Living in Midlothian, VA, I have always thought of Wintergreen, Massanutten, and Snowshoe as the nearby resorts. By exploring the forum I have learned of resorts that I might not otherwise have thought to visit, like Whitetail and Liberty that, according to Mapquest, are only about 3.5 hours away. Liberty looks to have a pretty decent children's program too.
I'd love to get some first hand perspective from some of you (especially from the Richmond area that have made the trip) on the advantages/disadvantages of Liberty or Whitetail over WTG, Mass, and the Shoe. Bear in mind I have a 5 year old (started skiing last year) and a "barely snowboarding" wife.
I don't have any experience with those resorts, but I'm sure others will chime in. I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday!
I would stay with Wgreen/shoe/mass. I cant imagine making a 3.5 hr drive for either of those resorts... they are day trip places for the DC area not typical resort style places... my experience. Wtg is probably much better and shoe way better (you would be the first ever to go to lib instead of shoe). Cant say about mass.
I think I would agree with langley.
Definitely try Timberline and Canaan Valley sometime. The drive there is only about 30 minutes more than going to Snowshoe, and they are both nice places. The whole valley area is quite nice. If you're looking for variety, those are the best choices to expand your horizons.
We absolutely love Liberty. Wonderful family environment. The season pass this year is an amazing deal. Though it seems they're looking to make up the difference on the food prices.... (Anyone else notice that?)
Happy Birthday Fleetwood!
I would stay with Wintergreen, Massanutten, and Snowshoe. Wintergreen has a magnificant childrens ski school program. Despite taking two of my grandkids to the Shoe to begin skiing (age 4 and 5) I have yet to form a really positive opinion. This is partly because of the childrens ski school at the Shoe. The parents have to rent skis at a separate building and get a lift ticket separately for the Shoe program....and they have no full day program, just two very expensive half-day programs for the little ones. I would say that the Kids Ski School at the Shoe for a full day of activities and on-snow learning costs nearly twice as much at that at 7 Springs, Wintergreen, etc. Each 1/2 day session is $80, then the rental (skis/boots/helmet) and lift ticket are on top of this fee. It can easily reach over $200/day. I am taking all my grandkids and kids to the Shoe next month for about 6 days. I plan on utilizing private lessons as much as possible.
After this experience I should have a good appreciation for the Snowshoe Kids Ski School Program.
As for the suggestion of going to Canaan or Timberline, be sure to check with the areas themselves before venturing out.
In the past the Timberline Kids School Program has not accepted reservations...first come, first served. Fail to get there early and you might find yourself out of luck.
If I remember correctly from old posts, Canaan had a minimal childrens program at best, and I think it collapsed mid-Season.
You want the little ones to have fun, and a grumpy parent "stuck" with an unexpected child skier" might not be the best way for the child to learn and have fun!
I still hope to get around to posting an article comparing many of the Kids Ski Schools in the Mid-Atlantic, but it probably will have to wait until after Christmas.
I live in the DC area. Stick with Snowshoe. Wintergreen is about as good as whitetail, actually, I would say whitetail is better, and ive never been to masanutten, but snowhoe is better than whitetail, lib, and any other resort "close" to the DC area. easily.
Massanutten is along the same lines as WG. Wintergreen and Mass have more vertical than Whitetail. WG and Mass both have wonderful kids programs. However Mass is primarily a time share resort and WG is run like a country club, all decisions are by committee. Out of all the resorts named so for I would rate Snow Shoe the best for terrain and it has the feel of a Mid Western resort. I would also take a look at Wisp. It is a well run resort with better guest services than all the other resorts listed except Snow Shoe
Liberty and Whitetail are our local resorts. Liberty about an hour, WT about an hour 20. Not worth a 3.5 hr drive if you pass SS and TL as far as terrain. Liberty is my son's favorite. They cater to the terrain park crowd. Many young and inexperienced borders all over. I go to WT. WT has limitations especially for beginning skiers/borders. The transition from the bunny slope to the next "green" is quite a shock. This has been helped a lot by the opening of a new slope this year.
OTH, the instructors at both resorts (for adults, can't speak to the kids instructors) really seem interested in helping you improve. I mean, they make $7 an hour, drive long distances, and sometimes don't teach a class if few people show up. They are not in it for the money.
Bottom line, I drove the 3 hours to Wisp this weekend and had a great time (no lessons tho). I love WT and Liberty because that's where I learned to ski, but not worth a 3 hr drive.
Good luck, Steve
Agree that your current choices are best for family trips, but here are a couple of distinctive aspects that might make it worth your while assuming both areas have "all slopes open":
Liberty - if you want to ski short, but sweet bump runs under the lights.
Whitetail - if you want lots of high speed cruising mileage on Blue-Black terrain on uncrowded weekdays.
PS: Also should mention Bryce Mtn, probably an hour farther then Wintergreen or Mass from your area, but if you must ski on weekends and get tired of crowds at the others this small, but well run ski area is the absolute best (IMHO) place in the region for timid newbies to learn snowsports. It is rarely crazy there even on holiday weekends.
Thanks for the info everyone, and the birthday greetings. I appreciate your feedback.
Haven't been to Wisp or Canaan/Timberline, but know M'nut well and tried out W'green last winter. As mentioned elsewhere, I like the M'nut's ski school. Even on holiday weekends, they do a good job. Oddly enough, I think being a timeshare resort can make M'nut less crazy than some other places on weekends. Most people do check-in and check-out Sat and Sun, so that thins the crowd. Plus there aren't many day groups.
When the kids are in ski school, you can stay up on the high speed quad to the top of the mountain and usually have no wait at all.
Note that there are a bunch of motels on the edge of Harrisonburg if you don't want to stay at M'nut. About 20 min away on 4-lane highway.
Will be at M'nut the week of Christmas. Be interested to see how the new flex ticket is working out. Either 4 or 8 hours, starting 15 min after you buy the ticket.
No high speed quad at the Nut, just a regular quad!
FYI Mass. The 4 hr flex is only offered on weekdays non holiday.