DAVIS, W.V. – For the second time in three years, I found myself spending a half-day at Canaan Valley Ski Area (web site). Like my trip in 2022, this was a family trip. Unlike that previous visit, the conditions were exceptional. Snow earlier in the week had the whole mountain open and we had blue bird conditions and light winds. Highs in the teens were no problem – just amazing weather.

4th & 5th Grade Passport

Ski West Virginia banner

My Christmas gift to my 9 year old son was the 4th & 5th Grade Passport. Price at $40, the passport offers:

  • 3 Lift Ticket Coupons: Winterplace, Oglebay, Canaan Valley and Timberline Mountain.
  • 1 Lift Ticket Coupon: Snowshoe.
  • Rental Coupon: There will be one free rental coupon in each booklet that can be used at either Winterplace, Oglebay, Canaan Valley, Snowshoe and Timberline Mountain.

This is a cheaper way to share the joy of skiing with him. When his older brother was that age, we bought the Pennsylvania Ski Pass, but that was discontinued post-pandemic. So, instead of a closer ski area to DC in Southern Pennsylvania getting lift tickets and rentals from my son’s brother and father, West Virginia won out.

Ski school

The biggest storms of the season to date had passed through the Alleghenies prior to Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. In fact, we were originally scheduled to go Saturday, but when I saw a high in the low teens, I changed my son’s ski school reservation. It worked out really well.

Since it was late morning on Sunday, his class was not very crowded and he enjoyed 1 on 1 instruction. The results were tangible. I was not expecting him being able to do much more than ride the carpet like previous time, but his brother and me were delighted to learn he was already going up the Schuss Triple Lift.

A big thumbs up to the CV ski school!

Another sampling of green circles

It was like deja vu all over again – my 15 year old and I stuck to the slopes serviced by the Schuss Triple. This time though, the conditions were pretty good. Sissy Schuss which feeds into Bunny Buster and Critters Crawl (adjacent to the carpet) was a little sticky and squeaky, but that’s not unexpected. We lapped those runs and maybe Easy Does It once or twice for the hour we had before 9 was done with his lesson.

Once the three of us got together, it was more of the same as we were both excited for 9’s progress. He is certainly more adept two half-days in than I was after 3 or 4 full days. The boys got down cleanly, others they took a spill. Even I lost it when I found a powder stash and came to an abrupt halt.

The indentation of where a commuter skier crashed because he can't ski powder. Canaan Valley, January 2024.
A Mid-Atlantic Commuter skier found a powder stash and what happened next will shock you

Cafe Teria

Not surprisingly, after a while everybody was hungry. While I prefer to brown bag it, it just wasn’t in the cards that day.

chicken tenders and french fries at the Canaan Valley Ski Area cafeteria
Chicken tenders and fries – the safest choice in a ski area cafeteria since time immemorial

The Bear Paw Food Court provides adequate sustenance at typical ski area prices. I was pretty happy with the portions though, I wound up taking my chicken tenders back to the car and saving it. It’s also worth mentioning the parking lot is close to main buildings and ski school. Another plus for CV.

Dad’s time

The boys took their time finishing up and 15 was happy to take 9 out with him for more time on the bunny slopes. That meant it was my chance to go up to the top of the mountain.

An empty, evergreen-lined ski trail at Canaan Valley Ski Area
Near the top of Timber Trail

I went up Schuss Triple, down Sissy Schuss and over to Turbolift up to the stop. Like my first visit, I started with Timber Trail. It’s the furthest to skier’s right, which I assume is north. It’s one of the longer runs at CV and quite enjoyable. I think in the Poconos, it’d be a blue square. Conditions were great for the upper two-thirds and then icy in the last. Manageable for me, but I think my boys would have been in trouble.

Signage at the top of Canaan Valley Ski Area
Ski trail signs

Next up, it was The Chute which feeds into Valley Vista. The conditions were better on these and I really enjoyed the several fall lines on the way down.

A couple of runs down those trails were all I had time for – we only had 4 hours and I wanted to get a few more runs in with the boys.

We wrapped it up with a few runs down Sissy Schuss and then we called it day.

Two kids skiing down Sissy Schuss at Canaan Valley Ski Area
Hopefully, we’ll get to ski bigger runs in the coming years

I’m proud of my boys performance. 9 picked up quickly and 15 did well coaching his younger brother. We had a great time – I wish we could do it more often.

my flickr photos: photos tagged with #canaanvalleyskiarea

Lift tickets

We wound up buying our tickets right at CV because I remember signing up online being harder than it should be. It’s $70 for 4 hours – maybe I should have splurged and gotten the full day and gotten a few more runs, but I knew we’d be tired and we were. Next time, maybe.

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

Rentals

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.

While I prefer to rent off mountain, I didn’t want to risk missing the 11 a.m. ski school, so I bit the bullet and rented at CV. The skis were fine, the price was $60 each. Ouch.

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 and seems to take forever. Just after Mount Storm, the scenery changes to more of a high plateau. In fact at the Eastern Contiental Divide, it got very cloudy – the “wind-blasted frozen hellscape” my buddy Ouij talks about.

I find this drive more taxing than other drives. Perhaps it’s the hills, the absence population centers, whatever. It feels longer getting their than 3 hours. There are zero traffic lights on US 48 between I-81 and Davis though.

Final thoughts

This time, I got to see CV in prime conditions and it made me want to go back. Nearby Timberline gets the hype now, but CV seems like a strong alternative. Perhaps I’ll make an overnight trip someday and do both. It’s over 4,000 feet above sea level and even though it’s only 850 feet of vertical drop, it looks better than some places with 1,000 feet or more. Maybe if I get an Indy Pass someday…

Mid-Atlantic skiing day trips from D.C.

A commuter skier’s guide to ski areas close enough to do in a day from the Washington, D.C. area. Over a decade’s worth of profiles and rankings

A skier looks down a foggy slope at Timberline Resort in West Virginia

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