Virginia Skiing Escapes

Photo: Courtesy Wintergreen Resort

Check out the best local hills for skiers and riders in Charlottesville and Richmond, Va.

Virginia might not be the first state that jumps to mind for committed and curious skiers or snowboarders. But come winter, there are worthy options to explore in the Old Dominion at four resorts within easy striking distance of Richmond and Charlottesville. Nestled in the rolling Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, the four-season resorts of Wintergreen, Bryce, Homestead and Massanutten make for perfect getaways. Whether it’s lessons or quick laps midweek, or full family outings on the weekend, easy access, affordable lift tickets, plentiful lodging and dining options, as well as multiple activities beyond the chairlifts, make a strong case for central Virginia’s slopes. The season usually lasts from December through mid-March, so make your plans now to take advantage of a targeted ski-season window. 

Wintergreen Resort         

Just an hour west of Charlottesville, on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Wintergreen Ski Resort offers 1,000 acres harboring 27 runs with terrain for all levels of skiers and riders. Eight lifts provide the up, including a pair of high-speed, six-pack chairlifts, while an advanced snowmaking system with more than 400 guns ensures snow coverage. Lift tickets are available in eight-hour segments, extended session (open-close), or night session (4 p.m.-close). Like air and rails? Its terrain park has more than 40 features as well as its own dedicated lift. And if you want to give your legs a break, it also has the state’s largest tubing park. A four-season resort, it also offers the chance to visit vineyards, presidential estates, historic farms, plus a frontier museum. And your dollars are helping a good cause: The resort partners with The Wintergreen Nature Foundation, supporting wildlife habitat preservation and environmental education. For food, try The Edge for world-class gumbo and visit nearby Afton, Va., for après treats at Blue Mountain Brewery, known for their home-grown hops.  

Photo: Courtesy Wintergreen Resort

Massanutten Resort 

Located an hour northwest of Charlottesville via U.S. Route 33, and just minutes from the Shenandoah National Park & Skyline Drive, Massanutten Resort boasts the most vertical drop in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania (at 1,110 feet of vert), with eight lifts and 14 trails for skiers and riders (all 14 of which are lighted for night skiing). It’s also one of the oldest ski resorts in the Southeast, celebrating its 50th year this season. To mark the milestone, upgrades and improvements include: replacing the last remaining original lift (a J-Bar) with a 650-foot carpet lift; realigning the intermediate/advanced terrain park and building the new Easy Street Terrain Park for novices; adding new RFID gates for lift tickets; expanding the mid-mountain lodge and grill; and installing over 50 new snowmaking guns. Bonus: Ski in the morning and then play in the 16-lane, 900-foot-long tubing park or the 5,000-square-foot ice rink under the lights in the evening. To refuel, hit the new Grab N Go Café or Base Camp Bar & Grill on the lower level of the lodge; or Elevations Lounge on the second floor, which offers a fully stocked bar and light fare (try the Trash Can Nachos and a Figgy Sparkler from the bar).  

Bryce Resort 

Located in the scenic foothills of the Allegheny Mountains and the northern part of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, Bryce Resort is a family-friendly ski area with terrain for all skier and rider levels. While the 400-acre resort is member-owned, it’s been open to the public since it was founded just 11 miles west of Mount Jackson in 1965. It might be small by other resorts’ standards—its eight trails are spread over just 25 acres of skiable terrain, with a 500-foot vertical drop—but it’s efficient and fun, with five lifts, two terrain parks and a majority of beginner- and intermediate-level slopes. And don’t let its size fool you; its longest run still clocks in at 3,500 feet, enough to tire most legs. Stay for the evening as well, as night skiing is available on all its trails except for White Lighting and Hangover. For après dining and drinking, try the Copper Kettle Restaurant; during the day, hit the grill at the Shenandoah Center cafeteria for breakfast and lunch.    

Omni Homestead Resort 

Designated a National Historic Landmark with a storied past that extends back two and a half centuries, the luxurious Omni Homestead Resort in the Allegheny Mountains is known for its world-class hotel, championship golf courses and the largest hot springs in the Commonwealth. But it also includes the oldest ski resort in Virginia, founded in 1959. And the skiing and riding is as respectable as the presidents who have stayed there, with 10 runs spanning 45 acres of terrain and a 700-foot vertical drop, all with top-notch snowmaking. It’s a nice spot for beginners, complete with the Rossignol Experience Center for instruction, a large teaching area and a wealth of easy terrain off the main lift, while intermediate skiers and riders can hone their skills on the Glades and Escape trails; more advanced guests can head down the Chute. Other activities include ice skating, tubing, and a renowned spa. For vittles, try its award-winning main restaurant or more casual Jefferson’s.    

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.