Both Snowshoe Mountain and Canaan Valley Resort are kicking off the winter ski season in high style.
Snowshoe Mountain resort set records during the resort's opening weekend with the largest turnout for opening weekend in more than a decade. The resort opened Thanksgiving weekend after recent storms dropped 28 inches of snow, allowing the earliest opening weekend in 10 years.
"Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Snowshoe saw over 73 percent more skier visits than their opening last year," a Snowshoe press release states. "While other ski areas are slow getting open, Snowshoe was able to open over 40 acres of skiable terrain, as well as simultaneously open Silver Creek - a joint opening that has not been done in several years."
A skier takes on one of the trails at Snowshoe Mountain Resort during opening weekend. The resort has a total 30.5 inches of snow with seven lifts and 21 open trails.
The resort is striving to open more terrain as quickly as possible. As of Friday, the resort had 30.5 inches of snow, seven lifts open, 21 open trails and 78 acres open for skiing.
"Area skiers and boarders are hungry and optimistic for a great snow season as the resort's season pass sales are up 44 percent from last year," the release states. "The resort is continuing to make additional snow and are confident that December will be one of the strongest that the resort has seen in years. "
Canaan Valley Resort plans to open its doors to the public on Dec. 21.
This is a tentative opening date, however, because colder temperatures will need to settle on the area for the resort to produce artificial snow.
Canaan Manager Molly Fuller said the resort's ability to make artificial snow has been boosted by $12 million in improvements that were completed over the past year. This included a new snow making system, which can produce 1,200 tons of snow per hour, and a new tubing area.
"We need at least seven days of cold weather," Fuller said.
In order to create artificial snow up to the middle part, mid-station, of Canaan Resort's ski areas, Fuller said seven consecutive nights will be essential.
Fuller said the resort has opened in past years with only half the ski slopes operational. Creating snow for half the resort would mean five slopes will be open to patrons.
If the resort is provided enough time to make snow for every slope, up to full-station, then eight to 10 trails will be accessible.
Fuller said beginner and intermediate slopes are available at all stages, both mid- and full-station. Once all hills are accessible then more advanced areas become active.
The new tubing area, Fuller said, is the largest in the Mid-Atlantic, boasting 10 to 15 lanes.
Up to 250 people can tube in the area during each two-hour session. Previously, the resort could only accomodate 100 tubers at any one time.
Both cross-county and downhill skiing is available at Canaan. Downhill skiing is dependent on articifial snow and cross-country is dependent on natural snow.
Cross-country skiing takes place on hiking trails surrounding the resort and Canaan doesn't have the capability to create artificial snow in those areas.
Hiking is still possible on the trails, with or without natural snow.
This year, lodgers have the option of staying in hotel-style accomodations, where 150 rooms are accessible, or in a cabin, of which there are 23.
The 150 rooms can house approximately 600 people. They have exterior entrances and are available in double, queen, king and efficiency sizes.
A new lodge is in the process of being constructed, as well. It is scheduled to be completed in August, next year.
It will include 160 new rooms and suites, have interior entrances to all rooms and will be connected to the resort's main lodge.
"(Canaan is) known for being very family oriented," Fuller said.
"We are extremely excited about the ski area improvements," she said. "The skiing experience will really be enhanced."
Contact Casey Houser by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.