The slopes at Snowshoe Resort as the sun starts to set. Photo courtesy of Snowshoe.
From downhill resort runs to backcountry stashes, here’s our primer on where to explore this winter when the snow starts to fall.
Whether you’re just clicking into skis for the first time or a seasoned pro hunting for fresh powder, BRO’s guide to the Southern slopes has something for everyone.
Best for Beginners
If you’re just learning to turn or need to shake the rust, resorts in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic have you covered with plenty of beginner-friendly terrain. When searching for gentle greens and blues, these are the runs for you.
Wisp Resort, Md.
Meander down the mountain on this beginner favorite at Wisp Resort—set in the scenic Deep Creek Lake area of western Maryland. The one-mile run has a generous gentle grade that’s just right for novices learning to carve. Once you get your ski legs, head over to the North Camp, combining Happy Camper, Backbone Pass, and Big Dipper for another long run.
Massanutten Resort, Va.
At Massanutten Resort, located just east of Harrisonburg in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Easy Street is a terrain park geared toward beginners with small features that are just right for aspiring tricksters. New skiers and riders should also check out Southern Comfort, a long run with an easy grade that’s ready for cruising.
Beech Mountain Resort, N.C.
In the North Carolina High Country at Beech, which sits at 5,506 feet, Oz Run is one of the most coveted blue runs in the South. Running down the backside of the mountain with its own chairlift, the intermediate run offers solitude not usually found at a resort, and it is one of the few western-facing trails in the United States.
With 1,500 feet of vertical drop, the Western Territory area of Snowshoe Resort—which gets pummeled with an annual 180 inches of lake effect snow every year—is an expert’s go-to in the region. Featuring only black and double-black diamond runs, it’s perfect terrain for satisfying the need for speed. Longstanding favorites include Lower Shay’s Revenge and Cupp Run, a fast one-mile slope designed by French alpine skier Jean-Claude Killy.
Lower Wildcat Slope
Laurel Mountain Ski Resort, Pa.
Approximately 70 miles east of Pittsburgh and part of Laurel Mountain State Park, this resort boasts one of the most thrilling runs in the East with Lower Wildcat, a double-black diamond that averages a 60 percent grade, reaching 72 percent at its steepest.
Wintergreen Resort, Va.
Located in the scenic Highlands Area of Wintergreen, the largest ski resort in Virginia, Cliffhanger comes with a steep drop and great views. Grab the Highlands Express lift to access this and the expert-friendly area’s six other black-diamond trails.
Start ‘Em Young
For young ones just getting comfortable on sticks, check out these kid-friendly slopes and ski schools.
Hidden Valley Resort, Pa.
With its beginner-friendly terrain, the Front Face of Hidden Valley offers a variety of trails, perfect for kids of all ages and abilities. The western Pennsylvania resort also has the well-reputed Rippers Adventure Program for lessons with experienced instructors.
Little Penguins Program
Omni Homestead Resort, Va.
Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains of western Virginia, the Omni Homestead holds great history in the foundation of Southern skiing. The resort also has a relaxed atmosphere and some of the region’s most gentle terrain for learning. Kids can get started in the Little Penguins Program, open to youngsters ages five to 11.
Polar Bear Snowboard School
Sugar Mountain, N.C.
Geared towards kids aged seven through 14, this program in the North Carolina High Country includes slope tickets, rental equipment, and expert instruction that will get kids standing and sliding in no time.
Horst Locher Snowsports School
Bryce Resort, Va.
Bryce Resort’s Horst Locher Snowsports School is known as one of the best in the country with a staff of top-notch instructors willing to customize lessons for all abilities. The resort, located two hours west of Washington, D.C., has First-Time Packages that include a full-day carpet-only lift ticket, equipment rental, and a 75-minute lesson.
For the Boarders
Snowboarders looking to play in terrain parks can find plenty of adrenaline-pumping features in the Blue Ridge.
Mountaineer Terrain Parks
Snowshoe, W. Va.
With five terrain parks around the resort, there’s something for every rider at Snowshoe. Start off at Progression Park or Robinson’s Run, perfect for beginners testing out their developing freestyle skills. When you’re ready, make the transition to bigger features at Timberjack and Evolution Park, the resort’s newest park. Experienced riders will find plenty of large jump and technical jibs at the Mountaineer Park.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Pa.
This mile-long terrain park is packed full of rails, boxes, and jumps. Six other terrain parks on site offer a rotating array of features. Head over to the Spot Superpipe, home to major qualifying events for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team.
Ober Gatlinburg Freestyle Terrain
Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area, Tenn.
Return to the terrain park at Ober Gatlinburg throughout the winter as they add new and more difficult features as the season progresses. Tom Royther, the snowsports coordinator, said they start out with a small area with four to six features.
“After we make enough snow, we open up the backside and open up the terrain park over there,” he said. “We have as many features as we can fit. We try to graduate the park throughout the season. So, we make it a little more difficult, [then] a little more difficult. But we always have options for beginners as well.”
Just because the sun has set doesn’t mean it’s time to pry off your boots. Check out these regional resorts for some powder under the bright lights.
Ober Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Extend your time on the slopes at Ober Gatlinburg until 10 p.m. every night except Sundays (open until 7 p.m.), as every run in the park is open for evening action. Also, mark your calendar for Ober Rocks on January 25, 2020, when the slopes will stay open until midnight, alongside live music and a wing eating competition.
Massanutten Resort, Va.
With all of its trails, including the mile-long, steep black ParaDice, lit for night riding, Massanutten is open until 9 p.m. every night, except Tuesdays. Get in up to 12 hours of powder time from morning past sunset.
Wisp Resort, Md.
With 90 percent of the area lit for night skiing, Wisp Resort is open until 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and select holiday Sundays. Use the new resort app to track your vertical and miles covered as you ride from open to close.