As the holidays approach with winter to follow, it's time to start planning your cold weather getaways. While many prefer to head to a sunny locale for winter travels, others embrace the cold and gear up for winter sports. In Tucker County, West Virginia a forecast of snow is met with utter delight. A laid-back 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. Here are a few ways to play in Tucker County this winter.
Snowboarding and Downhill Skiing
The close proximity of the ski resorts and parks make it easy to try something at each location, even during a short visit. 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 and snowboarders. Ski instructors are available for lessons for first timers as well as experienced skiers looking to polish their skills - which in my case means perfecting the beginner's wedge.
In addition to lessons at varying levels, 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.
Canaan Valley Resort offers snow tubing with one of the longest downhill slopes in the eastern states at 1,200 feet. Snow tubing is effortless fun and perfect for all ages. I couldn't wait to give it a try, so I grabbed an inner tube, hopped on the moving sidewalk - the "Magic Carpet" - and rode to the top of the hill. There were several snow lanes, so I picked one, plopped down in the inner tube, scooted to the edge, then 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 that 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.
Blackwater Falls State Park
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, whisks 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 surround 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. He offers guided cross country tours, snowshoeing, and full moon night tours.
Even if cross-country skiing and snowshoeing require more exertion that you're willing to endure, be sure to visit the organic White Grass cafe. The menu includes an assortment of homemade soups and sandwiches - a perfect winter's lunch. The laid-back quirky cafe is a delight and the food is delicious.
Where to Stay
The newly renovated Canaan Valley Resort and Conference Center has 160 guestrooms, a shuttle to the ski resorts, game rooms, heated indoor pool, and a hot tub. The guest rooms are spacious and include a 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.
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 meal 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." For a starter, I recommend the Green Plakes Extreme Garlic Chips which are incredibly delicious and have enough garlic to keep potential vampires away. A favorite pizza on the menu is the Artery Clogger, layered with pepperoni, ham, bacon, 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% kid friendly.
What's your favorite wintertime getaway destination?
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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