News & Politics

Best of 2004: Ten Top Slopes

The best resorts to get your ski on.

Here are the region's best ski resorts for every snow lover, according to outdoor journalist Matthew Graham; John Phillips, author of Ski & Snowboard America: Mid-Atlantic; and Scott Smith, editor of

For experts: Blue Knob (800-458-3403;, Claysburg, Pennsylvania. The state's highest ski mountain offers 1,072 feet of vertical excitement and the toughest slope in the Mid-Atlantic, called Extrovert.

For intermediates: Elk Mountain (570-679-4400,, Uniondale, Pennsylvania. Ten long, wide trails. Even though another 45 percent of the terrain (11 slopes) is labeled advanced, award-winning grooming of these slopes allows for easy carving of turns.

For beginners: Hidden Valley, Somerset, Pennsylvania (800-458-0175; Short, shallow, wide-open slopes.

For a day trip (within two hours of DC): Whitetail, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania (717-328-9400; More–and longer and wider–slopes than Liberty, Roundtop, and Bryce. Plus Whitetail's high-speed quad lift means less time in the lift line.

For lessons: Liberty Mountain, Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania (717-642-8282; Its Learn to Ski or Snowboard Package was named best US program by the National Ski Areas Association.

For fast lifts and short lines: Wintergreen (800-266-2444; whisks riders up with two high-speed, six-passenger lifts in Wintergreen, Virginia.

For small crowds: Montage Mountain (570-969-SNOW; in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains (Scranton) is uncrowded even on weekends and holidays.

For snowboarding: Snowshoe Mountain, Snowshoe, West Virginia (877-441-4386;, rules with a 450-foot, all-snow halfpipe and two terrain parks featuring berms, tabletops, banks, and a variety of jumps.

Best overall: Snowshoe, with the most slopes (57), the highest vertical drop (1,500 feet), the most natural snow (180 inches a year), great snowboarding, extensive lodging choices, inexpensive package deals, and plenty of off-slope activities.

Runner-up: Seven Springs (800-452-2223; Thirty-one trails and a friendly atmosphere three hours from DC in Champion, Pennsylvania.

Washingtonian staff contributing to this section were Chuck Conconi, Sherri Dalphonse, Susan Davidson, Mary Clare Fleury, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Stephanie Jones, Ann Limpert, Drew Lindsay, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Jeremy Stahl.  Also contributing were writers Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Jenny Sullivan.