Editor’s note: We’re excited to have the Richmond Ski Club come onboard as a new RichmondOutside.com partner. Below club member Heidi Chadwick gives us her “Insider’s Guide” to ski resorts within driving distance of Richmond. And click here to learn more about the club.
In case you hadn’t noticed, winter is here! If you’re ready to hit the slopes with your skis or snowboard,
here’s an insider’s guide to what you need to know about ski resorts within a few hours of Richmond.
Wintergreen Resort – close by fun for all levels
Just 1.5 hours from Richmond near Charlottesville, Wintergreen Resort is your close, easy-to-get-to
option for winter fun. Wintergreen features 100 percent snowmaking coverage and skiers and riders
have access to 27 runs and 1,003 feet of vertical drop via five lifts, including two high-speed, six-person
For upper-level intermediate/experts, the Highlands area is really enjoyable. With some nice blues and blacks and a high speed lift minimizing lift line waiting times, you can get lots of runs in and avoid the busy and overcrowded beginner area. If you prefer blues or greens, these runs can get crowded but are less so early or late in the day and for night skiing (slopes are open 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.). Wintergreen’s Terrain Park offers a chance to hone freestyle skills, with a progression of features that are designed to accommodate a variety of skill levels. To help with the weekend crowd, the resort even runs a dedicated lift so terrain park users can get in as many runs as possible! Wintergreen has lots to do beyond the slopes with a fun tubing park and ice skating. Plus, parking is free (but be sure you park in the correct lots on the correct days or you will get towed).
The Richmond Ski Club offers member trips all over the world. Credit: RSC
Massanutten – slopes, ice skating, and a killer indoor waterpark
Massanutten Resort is located in the Shenandoah Valley, 20 miles from downtown Harrisonburg and approximately 2 hours from Richmond. Everyone can enjoy Massanutten because it has trails for all levels, from the beginner to the advanced skier or snowboarder. The ski area features 1,100 feet of vertical with 14 beginner, intermediate and advanced trails serviced by eight lifts. Beginners are serviced by their own learner’s area and lifts, which is nice. From the summit, advanced riders will find steep lines that will get the heart pumping and legs burning. The resort also has two well-maintained terrain parks.
Ready for something else at the end of a your ski day? Enjoy some good old-fashioned ice-skating fun at the resort’s outdoor rink, which can accommodate up to 130 skaters at a time, or their indoor waterpark, voted among the top 10 waterparks in the country.
Snowshoe – three distinct ski areas/one lift ticket
Surveys of Southeast area skiers continue to rank Snowshoe Mountain Resort as a favored destination. Located in Pocahontas County, WVa., Snowshoe is the largest winter resort in the mid-Atlantic and one of the few resorts that gets frequent natural snowfall. There are always several inches of fresh, natural powder.
Wintertime and the living’s easy… Credit: RSC
With 60 trails in three ski areas available on one lift ticket, the resort challenges all levels of skiers. Snowshoe Mountain has a large selection of green, blue and black diamond runs, plus two high-speed quads, Soaring Eagle and Ballhooter, to keep the lines moving (although Ballhooter can really back up on busy weekends). Try Widowmaker or Skip Jack, two favorite runs usually with plentiful snow.
Two black diamond trails comprise an area called The Western Territory, boasting a 1,500-foot vertical drop, 60 percent pitch, and 1.5 miles in length. The Western Express high-speed quad is rarely crowded and speeds you up the mountain so you can get lots of runs in.
The third ski area, Silver Creek, is an easy, free shuttle ride from Snowshoe. Quieter and more family- oriented, it’s a good place to escape weekend crowds and has some nice long runs and multiple lifts to use. Plus, Silver Creek offers night skiing from 4:30-9 p.m. if you’re just not ready to stop for the day. The Village of Snowshoe features high quality lodging and a large heated pool/hot tub complex to soak tired muscles after a long day of skiing/boarding.
Canaan Valley – lots of snow and short lift lines
Canaan Valley Resort, also located in West Virginia, is home to long beginner and intermediate trails serviced by a modern chairlift infrastructure and supported by a large snowmaking system. Canaan Valley has limited skier traffic that allows for short lift lines. The resort, approximately 4 hours driving distance from Richmond, is known for being very family friendly and provides ski and snowboard schools.
Skiers and riders have access to 47 trails, a terrain park, 850 feet of vertical drop and an average of 180 inches of snow per year. Other resort activities include cross country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing and snow tubing. There is also free shuttle service between the Bear Paw Lodge and the ski area. Ski and snowboard lessons and rentals are available as well as child care for 2 to 6-year-olds.
Want to try heli-skiing? RSC has you covered… Credit: RSC
Timberline – a local favorite
Only 2-3 miles from Canaan Valley is Timberline Four Season Resort, a West Virginia favorite. The family-owned and operated ski area provides skiers and snowboarders a peak elevation of 4,268 feet, 150 inches of average annual snowfall and a vertical drop of 1000 feet. Four lifts service 40 diverse runs spread out over 100 acres of skiable terrain, including some great glade runs. The longest run, Salamander, is a leg-burning 2 miles. The black trails are challenging, especially a few that are ungroomed. There’s also two terrain parks and night skiing. For beginners, Timberline’s veteran ski school is one of the best in the region. The resort offers guests the option of staying in their slope side hotel and Timberline Stable’s beloved horses and antique carriages and sleighs make for a picture-perfect (literally!) end of the day memory.
Bryce – one of Virginia’s best-kept skiing secrets
Bryce Mountain may be one of Virginia’s best-kept secrets. The resort, located in the Shenandoah Valley near West Virginia, has long catered to skiing families and is only 2 ½ hours from Richmond. The area has 25 acres of skiable terrain and a vertical of around 500 feet. There are five lifts servicing eight runs. While a small resort with somewhat limited trails, this is a perfect place to practice and get yourself in condition for when you go to the bigger resorts. With 100 percent snowmaking and night skiing, no matter the conditions or time of day you can still get out on the slopes and get your runs in. With help from Mother Nature and advancements in snowmaking equipment, most area resorts maintain consistent, powdery bases throughout the ski season. So grab your skis or board and get out there!
The Richmond Ski Club is one of the leading ski and active outdoor clubs in the U.S. Established in 1954,
the Richmond Ski Club has been providing fun, travel and friendship to Central Virginia winter sports
enthusiasts for over 60 years. In addition to snow sports, the Club offers a variety of warm weather
activities, including biking, tubing, camping, and socials.