Plan Your Trip > Regional Guides > Complete Guide to Skiing from Washington D.C.

Avant Ski's Complete Guide to Skiing from Washington D.C.

What the Appalachians lack in elevation, they make up for in proximity, with day-trip options as close as 90 minutes and vertical drops nearing 1,000 ft! The broader Southeast area spans Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. Many local resorts mirror the amenities and family activities of their larger Rocky Mountain counterparts, presenting great alternatives to ski or ride before getting the TSA involved.

Our list has something for everyone. We divide it into three categories  day trips, weekend trips, and where we would go for a longer trip, complete with a guide to the most convenient flight options. The driving times and distances referenced throughout our list are from the Washington Monument. 

For day trips from D.C., it can be easier and better value to secure your gear before heading to the mountain. We have recommendations for local ski shops and events to help you prepare for the slopes.

TOP RESORTS TO VISIT FROM D.C. BY CATEGORY

WEEKEND TRIPS​

LONGER TRIPS

D.C. PRO TIPS

TOP DAY TRIPS FROM D.C.

Liberty Mountain

 

Carroll Valley, PA; 1.5 hours driving from D.C.                 

1/3

Overview. Part of the Epic Pass and only 1.5 hours from D.C. in Carroll Valley, PA, Liberty Mountain Resort is well suited for the first few trips to the slopes. Lift tickets are reasonably priced ($50-60, $90-100 with rentals) and there are short trails of varying difficulty to test your skills. The resort has recently invested in its snow-making capabilities and all of the trails are well covered. The tubing park has 14 lanes and its own magic carpet.

Getting To: Drive; ample free parking, ~1.5 hours from D.C. (~78 miles)

Special Programs: CLC (Children's Learning Center) Ski Camps available for children ages 4-10 and CLC Snowboard Camps for children ages 6-10. Full day includes lift ticket, 2 hour lesson and rentals (9am-4pm) for $125 (non-peak) to $185 (peak) ​

QUICK STATS

Passes: Epic Pass

Rates: $50-60, $90-100 with rentals; buy online in advance

Terrain: 16 Trails, 3 Terrain Park

Breakdown: 35% Green, 40% Blue, 25% Black

Average Snowfall: 31 inches

Vertical Drop: 620 ft

Lifts: 8 total - 5 quads, 1 tow, 2 tows/conveyors​

 LET'S GO 
  • Night skiing is available

  • Non-skiers won't be bored. There is plenty to do off of the mountain including a spa, large tubing center and ice skating

 HESITATIONS
  • Limited number of lifts mean longer lines, especially now that Liberty is part of the Epic Pass

 

Whitetail Resort

Mercersburg, PA; ~1.5 hours driving from D.C.                  

1/3

Overview. A local favorite, Whitetail in Mercersburg, PA, was also recently added to the Epic Pass. Regarded as a great beginner spot, the area is almost perfectly divided by terrain difficulty. With high-speed quads and steeper drops, it can have the feel of a bigger mountain resort. Similar to other resorts local to the District, Whitetail has tubing, terrain parks, and night skiing. The area was granted its first liquor license in 2019. 

Getting To: Drive; ample free parking, ~1.5 hours from D.C. (90 miles)

Special Programs: As a gateway mountain, there are special packages for beginners. Never-evers can purchase reduced tickets with restricted access to the lower mountain, rentals and lessons for ~$100 ($55 early season)

Passes: Epic Pass

Rates: $60-80/day, $90-100 with rentals; discounts available for booking online, in advanced 

Terrain: 23 Trails, 2 Terrain Park

Breakdown: 32% Green, 45% Blue, 23% Black

Average Snowfall: 40 inches

Vertical Drop: 935 ft

Lifts: 8 total - 1 high-speed quad, 3 quads, 2 doubles, 2 tows/conveyors

QUICK STATS

 LET'S GO 
  • Steeper vertical drop than other resorts near D.C.

  • The enclosed magic carpet is ideal for learning

  • Night skiing is available on all of the trails here

 HESITATIONS
  • Crowds, especially now that Whitetail is part of the Epic Pass

 

Massanutten

1/3

Overview. Massanutten, a few hours from D.C in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is an Indy Pass resort. It matches other local resorts with skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and tubing but also has more elevated dining options and an Indoor/Outdoor WaterPark. It offers almost as much vertical as Snowshoe at 1,110 ft, even though the elevation is lower. The almost even breakdown of terrain difficulty means it’s suitable for skiers and riders of all levels.  

Getting To: Drive; ample free parking, ~3 hours from D.C. (120 miles)

Specials Program: Check Slope-Use Specials for great value to visit on Monday Nights, when school is out as well as for College students and military members, find more details here.

Harrisonburg, VA; ~3 hours driving from D.C.                 

Passes: Indy Pass

Rates: $55-79/day, $95-119 with rentals; also have half day rates; discounts available online, in advanced 

Terrain: 13 Trails, 2 Terrain Parks

Breakdown: 31% Green, 46% Blue, 23% Black

Average Snowfall: 35 inches

Vertical Drop: 1,110 ft

Lifts: 7 total - 3 quads, 1 triple, 3 tows

QUICK STATS

 LET'S GO 
  • Features one of the largest tubing parks in the area with 14 lanes, 900 feet long with a 120 ft vertical drop

  • Extensive ski school offerings are great for learning

 HESITATIONS
  • Longer day trip from the District

TOP WEEKEND TRIPS FROM D.C.

Snowshoe Mountain Resort

Snowshoe, WV; ~4.5 hours driving from D.C.                 

1/3

Overview. A 4.5-hour (228 miles) drive into West Virginia brings you to the largest resort in the Mid-Atlantic. Perfect for long weekends or getting comfortable before pushing further. Reversing the traditional layout, the “base” is at the Summit, so arrive ready to ski down. The mountain is comprised of three distinct areas, Snowshoe Basin, the Western Territory, & Silver Creek. With 1,500 vertical feet, a 1.5 mile run and night skiing, there’s plenty to fill a weekend. Colder temperatures and ample snow-making capacity allow the resort to open around Thanksgiving and the season extends through March. The base has ample lodging and restaurants. There are also several on-mountain dining spots - we like Hoot's bar. The Ikon Pass offers unlimited access to Snowshoe.

Getting To: Drive. Hop on I-66 and watch for the turn off at I-81.

Specials Programs: For mid-week visits (ski for a little as $35 on Wednesdays) and military members. Full details here

 LET'S GO 
  • The largest resort in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Snowshoe has a variety of lodging, après action, and spa offerings, all easy to access from The District

  • Something for everyone. An even distribution of terrain by difficulty, 5 terrain parks, and night skiing

  • The mountain is expansive and wide, with multi-lift options back to the different summits

  • European style pedestrian village with a variety of restaurants and shops

HESITATIONS
  • The wind! Make sure you pack/dress correctly as it is known to get blustery!

  • The resort sits in the National Radio Quiet Zone, so your cell phone may not work unless you are with AT&T

  • The crowds! The proximity to UVA/VT/D.C. mean it is packed during holidays, especially MLK weekend

INSIDER TIPS

  • Top Trails. For Beginners Skidder; Intermediates Crosscut to Skip Jack; Advanced Cupp Run

  • For the kidsBig Top is a15,000 sq foot playground with a climbing wall, bouncy house, movies and more; free when booking through Snowshoe Lodging 

  • Favorite On-Mountain Dining. Hoot’s Bar & Grill, good for a slopeside meal or a beer break

  • Favorite Après Spot. The Old Spruce Tavern is a classic spot in the Village with draft beers, salads and flatbread. Staff also head here when the lifts close. 

QUICK STATS

Passes: Ikon Pass

Rates: $59-109 for adults, $50-93 for children, also have midweek rates and military service members receive steep discounts

Terrain: 57 Trails, 5 Terrain Parks (8% of terrain)

Breakdown: 32% Green, 25% Blue, 35% Black

Average Snowfall: 180 inches

Vertical Drop: 1,500 ft

Lifts: 14 total -  3 high-speed quads, 2 quads, 6 triples, 3 tows

Seven Springs

Seven Springs, PA; ~3.5 hours driving from D.C.              

Overview. A favorite day trip for yinzers, Seven Springs is a 3.5 hour (194 mile) drive from D.C.(and ~1 hour from Pittsburgh) and offers year round fun for the entire family. The largest ski resort in Pennsylvania, it has 750 feet of vertical drop, nationally recognized terrain parks and night skiing. Seven Springs is also known for its golfing, mountain biking, and 2,000 foot alpine slide. The varied terrain is good for testing your skills as trails range from beginner to expert, along with the renowned terrain parks. Beware though, it is highly dependent on snow gods!! When it's time for après, the locally famous Foggy Brews boasts 50 taps, a 100 foot long bar and hearty eats to warm up after a day on the slopes.

Getting To: Drive. Hop on I-66 W and take I-70 W as you enter Pennsylvania. While the fastest, this route has tolls.

​​

Specials Programs: For mid-week visits, families (packages for beginner lessons and night skiing) and military members. Full details here

 LET'S GO 
  • The feel of a larger resort with slope-side lodging and 10 lifts offering multiple options to reach the summit

  • "Pennsylvania's Shred Oasis." The 7 terrain parks are well maintained and there is a 22 ft Superpipe

  • Plenty to do off of the mountain. Adults will enjoy Trillium Spa and kids are well entertained with mini-golf, bowling and arcade games

  • New for the 2019-20 season, Seven Springs is allowing uphilling

HESITATIONS
  • Pricey! Prices here match larger western resorts across the spectrum for passes/rentals/lessons and dining

  • The terrain parks attract a lot of snowboarders

INSIDER TIPS

  • Top Trails. Beginners Great Western;  Intermediates Giant Boulder; Advanced Alpine Meadows

  • For the kids. Check out the Big Top, this 15,000 sq foot playground has a climbing wall, bouncy house, movies and other kids activities AND it's free when you book through Snowshoe Lodgin

  • Favorite On-Mountain Dining. A brown bag lunch at the scenic Tahoe Lodge is our go to move here

  • Favorite Après Spot. Foggy Brews - just can't beat this for the atmosphere and location

QUICK STATS

Passes: Seven Spring has its own Season Passes (it's not part of a multi-resort pass program)

Rates: Season Passes: Adults ($695), Child (6-11, $595)

Lift Tickets (Weekday/Weekend): Adults ($69/89), Kids (Ages 6-12, $56/70)

Terrain: 40 Trails, 7 Terrain Parks 

Breakdown: 36% Green, 42% Blue, 20% Black

Average Snowfall: 135 inches

Vertical Drop: 750 ft

Lifts: 10 total - 1 high-speed six, 3 quads, 5 triples, 3 tows

 
 
FAVORITE DESTINATION TRIPS FROM D.C.

While the local resorts are great for convenience and for learning, we do understand the need to travel further in search of larger resorts. We also understand the importance of minimizing hassle and maximizing value. 

 

Fortunately, D.C. has direct flights to most major U.S. ski destinations. The table below provides an overview of direct flights from D.C. along with the most convenient resorts from those destinations. Between the D.C. area’s three major airports - Washington National (DCA), Dulles (IAD), and Baltimore (BWI) - you can reach a half dozen ski gateways, and a surprising number of resorts, with reasonable fares.

Overview of Direct Flight Routes From Dulles International Airport (IAD)

From IAD, direct service is available to five major ski gateway cities in the U.S. and two smaller airports very close to the slopes

Direct Service (IAD)

Denver, CO 

Salt Lake City, UT 

San Francisco, CA

Sacramento, CA

Burlington, VT

Hayden, CO

~Drive Time

from Airport

1.5 - 2.5 hours

45 minutes 

3 - 4 hours

2 hours

1 hour

30 mins

Resorts

Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, Winter Park, Copper

Park City, Deer Valley, Solitude, Alta, Brighton, Snowbird

Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar

Tahoe Resorts (same as above)

Sugarbush, Stowe, Mad River Glen, Smugglers Notch, Bolton

Steamboat

Also From

DCA, BWI 

DCA, BWI 

BWI

BWI

DCA

IAD only

 
TOP DESTINATION TRIPS FROM D.C. 
 

Park City

Park City, UT; ~5 hour direct flight from D.C.              

Overview. The largest ski resort in North America, Park City spans 7,300+ acres and has over 340 trails. Only 40 minutes from Salt Lake City, Park City is easily accessible from D.C. Snowfall is a reliable 355 inches annually and the base depth averages 46 inches. The terrain offers incredible variety. Over 40% of slopes are intermediates. Experts will find plenty of steep and deep terrain, head to 9,990 on the Canyons side or McConkey’s and Jupiter Bowl on the Park City side. With 8 terrain parks, snowboarders are welcome. The base of Park City is in the heart of the historic mining town of Park City. The ski school is excellent, and rigorous, offering full day mountain programs for children as young as three. The surrounding area has an amazing selection of accommodations with hotels and single family homes, many of which have ski-on ski-off access. 

Getting To: Delta offers direct service to SLC from DCA, IAD, and BWI; Park City is a 40 minute drive from SLC International Airport

 LET'S GO 
  • ​Excellent terrain variety, a mix of gentle slopes, groomers (over 120 trails are groomed nightly), steep and deep, and bumps 

  • Unique set up to ski directly into an authentic town with a vibrant community, assortment of restaurants, artwork, nightlife and events

  • Lively après scene with plenty to do off of the mountain

  • Travel logistics involving airplanes don't get much easier

HESITATIONS
  • Significant snowfall is needed to ski between the Park City and Canyons sides

  • It can be challenging for skiers of varying ability levels to stay together. Peaks with access to expert terrain often have no easy way down (9,990, Jupiter)

  • Beginner terrain is limited

INSIDER TIPS

  • The Town Lift offers convenient access to the mountain from the middle of town. However, the lift is long and slow, so consider driving or taking shuttle to the Main Base for faster access

  • For families, we prefer staying in Canyons Village, there are more large, single family homes with ski-in, ski-out access. The Day Care Center is also here

  • For more on top trails, intermediate and expert full day itineraries, our favorite après spots, see our full review

QUICK STATS

Passes: Epic Pass

Best Value: The Epic Local Pass – it offers unlimited days and is perfect for anyone able to navigate peak periods.

Terrain: 340 Trails, 8 Terrain Parks 

Breakdown: 8% Green, 41% Blue, 28% Black, 23% Double Black

Average Snowfall: 355 inches

Vertical Drop: 3,226 ft

Lifts: 41 total, uphill capacity: 31,000 ppl/hr

Keystone

 

Keystone, CO; ~5 hour direct flight from D.C. to Denver     

Overview. An easy trip from Denver, reasonable lodging options and convenient parking are just a few reasons why Keystone is one of the most family friendly resorts in the Colorado Rockies. However, don't be fooled by its "family-friendly" reputation. Keystone has plenty for off-piste enthusiasts - rock crags, bowls, glades and backcountry account for more than half of the terrain. Snowfall is reliable, averaging 225"+ annually. Keystone is easy to navigate with two base villages. Lakeside Village, 5 minutes away, has more dining options, shopping and one of the world's largest Zamboni maintained lakes for ice skating. A trip to Keystone is easy to combine with visits to nearby resorts. It's on the Epic Pass and there are special value passes to combine with nearby Breckenridge and Crested Butte. Keystone also has the largest night skiing area in Colorado.

Getting To: There are lots of options from D.C. to Denver and Keystone is ~1.5 hours drive from DIA.  United offers direct flights from IAD to Denver; Frontier has a nonstop from DCA to Denver; Spirit flies direct from BWI to Denver; Southwest offers nonstop flights from both IAD and BWI.

 LET'S GO 
  • Bring the whole family. Keystone has something for everyone. Kidtopia has no end of fun activities and kids under12 ski free (with lodging package)

  • Backcountry terrain is under the radar; even though it's cat accessible, it tends to be less traveled

  • Fast groomers abound on all three mountains

  • Getting around is easy. Parking is free and resort shuttles run regularly 

HESITATIONS
  • Relatively less snowfall than other CO resorts (and the terrain on the North Peak requires significant snowfall)

  • Not the most luxurious of the Summit County resorts

  • The après scene is mostly sports bars in River Run Village or dives to grab a beer off the mountain

  • Limited ski-in/ski-out lodging options, though free shuttles run regularly around the broader resort area

INSIDER TIPS

  • River Run has become the main base village; Mountain House is low key and more convenient for ski school

  • Advanced and expert riders should head to the North Peak and Outback

  • For backcountry access, The Outback bowls (North & South) are cat accessible for $10 

  • Stay mid-mountain or higher to avoid lift lines 

  • For more on top trails, intermediate and expert full day itineraries, our favorite après spots, see our full review

QUICK STATS

Passes: Epic Pass

Best Value: The Epic Local Pass – it offers unlimited days to Keystone and great value elsewhere if you can navigate the holidays

Terrain: 128 Trails, 5 Bowls, 1 Terrain Park 

Breakdown: 12% Green, 39% Blue, 49% Black

Average Snowfall: 225 inches

Vertical Drop: 3,128 ft

Lifts: 20 total, uphill capacity: 30,700 ppl/hr

D.C. SKI RESOURCES
 

Day trips are even easier if you you have all of the gear in advance. Here are our favorite places to buy gear as well as rent equipment ahead of a day or weekend trip. Avoid paying a premium slope side with this guide.

This is our number one spot to rent gear before a day trip from D.C. They have an outstanding selection of boots and a team of experts to help with the fitting. They also have the only indoor ski facility in the mid-Atlantic, for all year round skiing.

REI, Bailey's Crossroads | Bailey's Crossroads, VA

Located off the Leesburg Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads, REI offers a wide selection of clothing, gear, and equipment, as well as a ski and snowboard shop for maintenance and tune-ups (Mid Oct - Early March). They also offer free one-on-one boot fitting appointments.

Sun & Ski | Falls Creek, VA (~15 minutes from D.C.) 

If you are looking for the next step up in technical ski/board knowledge, head here. Sandwiched between Arlington Boulevard and Leesburg Pike, Sun & Ski has a wide selection of clothing and equipment and some of the most knowledgeable employees in the D.C. area.

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