DAVIS, W.V. – Pandemic-era skiing remains challenging.  Planning ahead is difficult as weather and conditions cannot be estimated until several days before. Nevertheless, reservations have been difficult to find this season as more people are eager to get outdoors.

Throughout the mid-Atlantic, lessons were difficult to find. The primary driver of our decision to visit Canaan Valley Ski Area (web site) was the availability of ski school for our 7 year old son. I registered him by phone mid-week, seemingly the last ski lesson slot in the region. It was his first time on skis.

The rest of the family had not been on skis in some time. My 13 y/o had been out several times, but not since 2019. My wife, had not skied since 2010. These factors combined to keep me in the beginner/intermediate area of the mountain.

A sampling Canaan’s trails

Conditions weren’t great. While it was a sunny day with temperatures slightly above freezing, the recent rains had left the slopes in rough shape. Think mashed potatoes, a few rocks, ice and death cookies. A number of trails do not appear to have opened at all this season. Some snow guns were on during the day though.

Since my family had not been on skis in a long time, I spent much of our few hours with them going up Schuss Triple Lift. The Sissy SchussBunny Buster combination was a respectable re-entry for them. We skied that several times together before I broke off and tried Easy Does It. My 13 year-old tried it too and got down most of the way successfully the first time and cleanly the second time.

Following several runs, my better half and I moved over to the Turbolift to the top. There weren’t many greens from there and Canaan doesn’t put up maps like most ski areas. We found our way over to Timber Trail. This trail wouldn’t be a green at a number of Mid-Atlantic ski areas. The terrain was varied, but the conditions made it tough. Several icy patches slowed us down and were too tough for someone a decade removed from skiing. I had fun for the most part on it though and admit to being curious about it when it hadn’t rained earlier in the week.

Taking a run by myself, I headed back to the top. I started down on the The Chute which feeds into Valley Vista. The pitch was steeper and had several fall lines. A good run, but like everywhere else, icy. Already short on time before my youngest’s lesson was coming to and end, it was back over the Schuss Triple Lift so I wouldn’t get too far from the ski school. A few more laps there and then pick-up.

Ski School

Our 7 year took the “half-day” lesson, 2.5 hours of group instruction. School took place on a small slope located adjacent to the lodge and parking lot. His instructor was cheerful and had him skiing down the hill and over to the magic carpet lift with confidence. A good start! We took several runs up and down Critters Crawl together and up the magic carpet. Shortly thereafter, it was 4:30 and everything shut down. I had hoped to get one last run from the top, but the lifts were closed.

Lift tickets

I reserved online the night before. I had to fill out contact information each time for all four of us, so it took about 20 minutes overall. I recommend using a desktop to do it rather than mobile. We only got half-day lift tickets at about $66 for 13 and up. Kids 12 and under are about $47. Add about $10 more for full-day tickets.

Like many other ski areas, CV has switched to RFID cards.


I have my own boots, but have yet to purchase skis. The rest  of the family needed their own equipment, except for helmets. We’re covered there.

We choose to rent in the valley at Ski Barn. We were able to reserve equipment online ahead of time. Always rent off the mountain if you can. We arrived late morning. Staff was sufficiently efficient. The equipment was seasoned but adequate. I’d use them again.

Getting there

Canaan Valley is 166 miles from the Capital Beltway, so without stopping, it’s about a 3 hour drive. US 48, also known Corridor H, an Appalachian Regional Commission project is the bulk of the journey through West Virginia. It’s scenic, steep and empty. Robert Byrd everybody!

There are not many places to stop for fuel and food with Moorefield being the largest. The trip seems to take longer than it actually does. The connection between I-81 and Wardensville is only two lanes, but traffic volumes are manageable. There are zero traffic lights on US 48 between I-81 and Davis where you go left down WV 32 south at a stop sign.

Final thoughts

My trip was too short to get the complete picture of Canaan Valley.

  • I didn’t get on many of the “41” trails. That number seems inflated which is not unique to CV. It looks more like 25 or so.
  • The terrain on the major trails is better than Whitetail. I could have a lot of fun up there.
  • The snow situation in West Virginia was grim – almost nothing along the way. Around 4000 feet or so, the trees in the vicinity were coated in white though. It was very pretty.
  • I do not think CV has the infrastructure to get by in light snow years like this one.
  • The ski area is a state park.
  • CV skis bigger than 850 feet of vertical drop.
  • I think it’d have to be a pretty snowy year for me to head back to CV. The new Timberline is just a few miles away and by all accounts is incredible now, so I’d be inclined to go there. Now, if I were staying for a long weekend, I could see taking some time at CV.
  • My family enjoyed themselves, so this was a successful late-season ski day. Next year, perhaps we get a longer day and continued improvement.

Mid-Atlantic Skier Guide

My Mid-Atlantic Commuter Skier Guide is a resource for anyone looking to take a daytrip. I have compiled ski reports over the last decade from resorts throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

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