Skiing on the East Coast: Snowshoe, West Virginia is Not Just a Big Hill

I am beyond thrilled to introduce a new contributor to Two Kids and a Map.  Marissa P. and I have been traveling together since we were teeny tiny because we are sisters!  She lives on the East Coast in Virginia and we have been writing together for a few years over at Threaded Together.  I am so excited to introduce her as Two Kids and a Map’s East Coast Editor.  With my move from the East to the West, she will be able to keep us informed with all those East Coast posts you have come to expect from Two Kids and a Map.  We will learn more about Marissa and her travels next week, but here is her first post about skiing at Snowshoe, West Virginia.  

While Jen has been bunny hopping all across the Colorado Rockies, I have been doing some skiing myself, on the other side of the country.  Now, you West-Coasters may laugh in the face of our Blue Ridge Mountains, but I can tell you, they are nothing to scoff at when you are looking for a good day of fun in the snow.

My family and I spent the first weekend in March IMG_1434skiing and snowboarding at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Snowshoe, West Virginia and it was positively gorgeous.  We traveled there for a special military weekend and spent three nights in their resort and two full days of skiing.  When we first booked the trip, we were keeping our fingers crossed that the man-made snow would be decent enough for our children to take lessons and for us to get our ski-fix.  We were more than pleased when the snow Gods blessed our trip with not only a great snow base prior to our arrival, but also more than eight inches of snow falling during our stay!  We spent four days walking around reveling in our luck!

This was the first time I had ever gone skiing stateside.  Prior to this weekend my experience was limited to the Alps in Germany.  Needless to say, I was a little wary about the excitement I would find skiing in Snowshoe.  People repeatedly told me I was in for a disappointment and that the Blue Ridge Mountains were just a couple of hills compared to the Alps.  I must admit, they were right about the hills, but wrong about the disappointment.

Apparently, Snowshoe is just about the best skiing and snowboarding conditions you’ll find on the East Coast.  How do I know this if it is the first time I went skiing in the USA?  I can’t speak from personal experience, but I can base my knowledge on the people I met while there.  In my adventures on the slopes I spent a lot of time going up the lifts with perfect strangers.  Perfect strangers from North Carolina, Kentucky, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Missouri.  Those are just some of the people I met.  Each and every one of them had been to other mountains on the East Coast and all said this was the one to go to.  The most lifts, the most trails, the best accommodations, etc.  I am hoping to put their advice to the test in the coming years by traveling to the other mountains, but for now, I will accept it.

Maybe you should too.  If you are new to Snowshoe, you may need a few pointers for your next trip.

Ten Snowshoe Travel Tips

Look for special deals.

Skiing and snowboarding are very expensive sports!  I recommend traveling towards the end of the season.  You are taking a chance with the snow conditions, but this is when you are going to get more bang for your buck.  We saved double because they were offering a special discount to military families the weekend we traveled.  Snowshoe also happens to be well known for their hiking and biking trails, and their year-round indoor/outdoor pool.  So even if there is no snow on the ground, there is still plenty to do.

Get on their mailing list.

The resort emails deals like the $199 Ridiculous Pass (really, that was it’s name!).  This season pass lift ticket was not only good for the rest of the 2013 season, but also for ALL of next season.  Of course you only had 11 days to buy it and the offer started after our family had already booked tickets, but we forwarded the email onto a friend and they were able to take advantage of it.

DO THE RESEARCH AND BUY AS MUCH AS YOU CAN ONLINE.

Snowshoe’s prices are WAY lower online and they will not honor those prices over the phone.  The only reason why I booked our hotel over the phone was because they do not honor the military discount online and the lodging was definitely cheaper with that discount.  HOWEVER, everything else such as lift tickets, rentals and snowboarding school with the kids was cheaper online…even cheaper than the military discount over the phone.  Also, do like the cable companies do and bundle bundle bundle!  We cut our costs by bundling lift tickets with rentals, etc.

Stay as close to the Village as possible.

This is where the majority of the stores and restaurants are, the ski schools, and access to several lifts.  We weren’t quite “ski-in-ski-out” but we were close – the TreeTop townhomes.  It was less than a five minute walk into the Village, but honestly, I would have liked to be even closer.  Both older kids (7 and 11) were in snowboarding school and had to be dropped off first thing in the morning.  Then I would check on them at least once during the day.  Then shop.  Then pick the kids up.  Then go to the pool (see below).  Then maybe eat dinner in the Village.  Then try to get Wi-Fi in Starbucks, then back to the townhouse…ALL while carrying my 16 pound baby on my back.  In the cold.  In the snow.  Forget the skiing – that little hill between my lodging and the Village helped me lose about five pounds that weekend.

Stop at a grocery store on your way to the mountain and buy food in advance.

I don’t mean a grocery store in that area.  Once you get close, you are really in no man’s land. There will be little to choose from and it will be expensive. We packed an empty cooler and purchased $75 worth of food about an hour or two away from Snowshoe.  Eggs, juice, cereal, pasta, bread, peanut butter, etc.  That $75 fed four adults and two and a half kids for four days and we still had plenty of leftovers.    We saved a lot of money by only eating on the mountain twice (both dinners).  To put it into perspective: I bought a 20 oz bottle of Sprite at one of the cafeteria style restaurants and it cost me over $3.  I told the cashier it better be the best bottle of Sprite I had in my entire life.  It wasn’t.

Since you will most likely eat on the mountain at least once, I highly recommend Foxfire Grill.

The pork barbeque was terrific!  It was a perfect place for our whole group, baby included.  I highly suggest you hop off the slopes a little early and beat the dinner rush.  When I say dinner rush, I mean a 3 hour wait to be seated.  We totally avoided that both nights just by getting to the restaurants slightly earlier than the average guest, around 4:30 – 5.

Try to arrive at the mountain at non-rush hour times.

We arrived early Friday afternoon.  It was early enough that we beat the post-work rush.  DO NOT arrive on Saturday unless you can’t avoid it.  The lines were long and you are probably not going to get the best service during these times.  Not to mention you run the risk of the shops being out of your size equipment. There were several times I looked at the people waiting in line and I was very happy I was not one of them.  Oh…and don’t forget the Dramamine!!!!  Those are some twisty roads leading up to the resort and we pulled over several times to deal with my motion sick son!

Prepare to have no cell phone service or Wi-Fi.

There is a SUPER COOL National Radio Astronomy Observatory about 30 minutes away, so Snowshoe is in a radio “quiet zone.”  Wi-Fi is limited to Starbucks and a few hotels.  And guess what, when 300 other people (exaggeration…maybe?) are all trying to check Facebook at Starbucks, nobody is really checking anything!  My family really enjoyed this getaway from the hustle and bustle for a weekend, but yours may not.  See here for more info.

Bring your swimsuits.

There is an indoor/outdoor pool with two hot tubs that is open year round (I believe).  This is not for the feint of heart in 8 degree weather!  I don’t care how much you try to heat a pool in those conditions, it is just not going to feel warm!  However, I am so glad we took the time to go at least once, because I don’t think my children will ever forget swimming outside surrounded by snow.

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 Put your kids in ski/snowboarding school.

This was our kids’ first snow trip and I was on the fence about how long to put them in school.  I highly recommend full days of school. The instructors were great and the kids had a blast and made new friends. Though I like to think of myself as a patient mom, I don’t think we all would have survived me trying to teach this skill to my children. We did two full days of school for each kid and it was worth every penny. I’m going to sneak a part two into this one – Tip the ski school instructor (even if only five bucks) This is not mandatory, but I sure felt like an idiot when all these other parents were tipping the instructors and I had NOTHING to give them.  Ugh.  I had no idea!  Is this normal at all mountains???

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So there you have it!  I hope you have as much fun planning your trip as I did.  There are several exciting things we didn’t have time to do.  Next time we go, we will definitely try harder to make it to snow tubing and the night skiing over at Silver Creek (the other part of Snowshoe away from the Village).  Or maybe even dare to try the zip line that goes through the Village.  If only we weren’t so busy this weekend…it is the first weekend in April and it has snowed 19 inches in the last 7 days…

Marissa

This post is part of Travel Tips Tuesday with Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Walkingon Travels.
suitcasesandsippycups.com

Comments

  1. 1
    Erin, Communications Coordinator, Snowshoe says:

    We hope you had a blast while you were on the Mountain! For your next trip definitely put tubing on your list and be sure to check out our Outdoor Adventure activities such as snowmobiling, snowcat tours, and horseback riding. This winter has been awesome and we are already looking forward to next year! And don’t forget to check out Snowshoe and Pocahontas County in the summer – great events and attractions to enjoy. Hope to see you again at Snowshoe very soon!

    • 2

      Hi Erin, Thanks so much for your comment. After reading Marissa’s post, I am ready to book a trip to Snowshoe! I think that all of our children would love a snowcat tour! It is definitely on my list of things to do.

  2. 3

    Agree with everything here but the Foxfire recommendation. How this place gets a strong rep is beyond me, I have been on more than one occasion and promised myself never again after each one. The wait there is going to be outrageous but its going to be equally outrageous anywhere in the village so I wont hold that against them.

    I have 3 issues with foxfire…
    1) The food. It simply isnt any good. You are paying $15 for a frozen hamburger patty that tastes like leather. Frozen and overcooked. You’ll notice that as a central theme with anything ordered from the restaurant
    2) Food Safety. I remember visiting last year and seeing a couple things that made me say hmmmm. This year on their (snowshoe resort) facebook page a concerned diner made a post listing numerous violations he saw during his short visit to the bar. A friend dragged me to that same bar the next week and I was shocked to see the same mistakes still being committed, including cooks touching the inside of trash cans and continuing to handle food.
    3) This is the only restaurant in the village that is not directly owned by the resort, the only restaurant that is privately owned. That means they do not offer the 20% discount that all other dining options offer with a season/ridiculous pass.

    If youre looking for a quick bite to eat in the village… cheat mountain pizza
    If youre looking for dinner in the village… southwest cantina
    If youre looking for a dinner a little nicer than SWC… South Mountain Grill at Soaring Eagle (Its also private so you dont get that discount I just killed FFG for not giving but at least you can get some real good food).

    • 4

      Hi Dave, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions. I appreciate the additional recommendations! This is the first season that I (Jennifer) have learned how to ski and I am finding that one of the best ways to save money is to bring your own meals…all three of them! We ate at a pizza place a few weeks ago at a Colorado resort and spent almost 50 dollars. For pizza! I like that you get a 20% discount at some of the restaurants in Snowshoe with a season pass.

  3. 5

    We went to Snowshoe last year- and loved it as far as East coast ski areas. We stayed at Soaring Eagle Lodge with a full kitchen- which I love to have during a ski trip because I am always too tired to go out at night.

    • 6

      Elena, I completely agree! We loved having our kitchen area at TreeTop. I don’t think I would do it any other way! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. 7

    HOW FUN! Outdoor sports are such a fun way for families to connect with each other – even if they’re not saying a word.

    • 8

      Hi Jenny! Well said! We love sharing these activities and memories with our kids. I know these are the types of things I remember most from my childhood. It is a terrific way to bring everyone together. Thank you for saying hello!