During winter In Tucker County, West Virginia, a forecast of snow is met with utter delight. An ideal and affordable winter destination, this mountain paradise at the top of West Virginia is home to Canaan Valley Ski Resort, Timberline, White Grass Cross Country Skiing and Blackwater Falls State Park – each offering an abundance of winter sports to keep everyone in the family entertained. Recently, I spent a few days embracing my inner child by playing in the powdery snow in Tucker County..
The close proximity of the ski resorts and parks make it easy to try something at each location even during a short visit. I started my day at Timberline Four Seasons Resort with a much needed ski lesson considering it had been more than 15 years since my last attempt down the slopes.
Fortunately my ski instructor, Don, was an extremely patient man. He reacquainted me with proper ski techniques, managing the lift and mastering the wedge – an inexperienced skier’s favorite method of controlling speed and stopping before significant injury occurs. Mastering the lift also required a bit of practice but Don continued to assist even as I gracefully fell and pulled him down with me.
While I am clearly not an accomplished skier (having been dubbed “Queen of the Wedge” by my instructor) Timberline was a manageable and fun ski resort. Both Timberline and Canaan Valley resorts offer an excellent balance of beginner, intermediate and advanced slopes (green, blues and blacks) providing options for all levels of skiers.
In addition to lessons at varying levels for skiers and snowboarders, Timberline Ski School has excellent full day children’s programs. For ages 4 to 7, the Timber Adventure Club provides coaching with specially trained instructors, ski equipment, lunch and lots of supervised ski time in an all-day format. For older children ages 8 to 12, the Mountain Safari program emphasizes a more intensive ski experience for experienced and beginning skiers.
Snow Tubing: An Easier Way to Have Fun in the Snow
After a physically taxing morning at ski school, I was more than ready for some easy snow play. I grabbed an inner tube and hopped onto the moving walkway – the “Magic Carpet” – for an effortless trek to the top of the hill.
I chose a lane and silently prayed the snow mounds on either side would hold up and keep me from colliding into other tubers on the way down. I dropped down into my inner tube in a less than graceful fashion, scooted to the top of the hill and plunged down squealing like a little girl.
After a couple of individual runs, I joined some friends by looping our tubes together for an even faster ride.
Canaan Valley also has ice skating in a covered, outdoor arena which includes an outdoor fireplace. The rink is open every day and has skates available for rent. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are also available on over 18 miles of un-groomed trails.
Sledding at Blackwater Falls
Blackwater Falls State Park gets in on the winter snow fun with its new and improved sled run with more than a quarter mile of fresh-groomed mountain snow. A “Wonder Carpet” conveyor system similar to Canaan Valley’s debuted this year to whisk sledders and their sleds to the mountaintop.
During the winter months the park offers over ten miles of trails for the beginner to the experienced cross country skier. Don’t miss seeing the partially frozen Blackwater Falls surrounded by icicles and sparkling white snow.
Nearby White Grass has been offering cross country skiing and snowshoeing for more than 30 years. Cross country skiing at White Grass is a true winter workout with unusually steep terrain with nearly 1,200 feet of vertical rise. As proprietor Chip says “we ski uphill.” Lessons are available for all levels. Chip specializes in snow farming and maintains over 37 miles of trails. Check out their event schedule for guided cross country tours and snowshoeing, along with full moon night tours.
Having exhausted my athletic ability with downhill ski lessons, I skipped the cross country option but did stop in at the organic White Grass café. The menu included an assortment of homemade soups and sandwiches – a perfect winter’s lunch. The laid back quirky café was a delight and the food was delicious.
Where to Stay
For this visit, I stayed at the newly renovated Canaan Valley Resort and Conference Center. The resort has 160 guestrooms, a shuttle to the ski resort, game rooms, heated indoor pool and a hot tub. The guest rooms are spacious and include seating area, mini refrigerator and microwave. Other options include cabins and cottages. Choose from two, three or four bedrooms with wood burning fireplaces and fully equipped kitchens.
There are numerous lodging options that work well for families including private homes, townhouses, condominiums and resorts. See www.canaanvalley.org for more information.
Where to Eat
After an active play day in the snow, you’re going to be hungry. Here are a couple of great dining options.
Hickory Room at Canaan Valley Resort
The Hickory Dining Room in the main lodge at Canaan Valley Resort serves delicious American cuisine with numerous entrée selections like braised short ribs, Portobello mushroom topped with beef tenderloin along with several chicken and fish options. The view is equally delicious with the snow covered mountain ski trails visible through every window.
Located in the charming town of Davis, Sirianni’s is not to be missed. This local favorite has been “making pizza since Reagan was president.” Our group ordered a few starters including Green Plakes Extreme Garlic Chips which were incredibly delicious and had enough garlic to keep potential vampires away. We then tried a few types of pizza including the Artery Clogger layered with pepperoni, ham, bacon, port and Italian sausage. For those who prefer a bit less meat, the Neapolitan is an excellent option with olive oil, spinach, tomato and basil. There is also a selection of pastas, salads and sandwiches. The atmosphere is fun and 100% child friendly.