What the Heck is Going On This Ski Season?!

Lift lines at most resorts are probably going to be long this season, but the good news is you can still have a beer… with food. And make sure to wear a damn mask!

Skip to: Blue Knob PA, Boyce Park PA, Canaan Valley WV, Hidden Valley PA, Holiday Valley NY, Laurel Mountain PA, Liberty Mountain PA, Peek’n Peak NY, Roundtop PA, Seven Springs PA, Snowshoe WV, Timberline WV, Tussey Mountain PA, Whitegrass (XC) WV, Whitetail PA, Wisp MD

I always do a Lift Rate Roundup around this time, but you know… 2020. As this dumpster fire of a year wraps up, I am sure it has a few more crisis to dole out. In an effort to avoid that, I am going to try and help my fellow snow people to get out there safely this year. I don’t do this for the resorts, I do this for you (and me). We needed an easy place to see all the ski area guidelines in one place.

The question remains: Can we ski and ride this season? Do we need a special pass? Yes, and kind of yes. Read on! I got you covered…

The good news is every single one of these resorts have stated they are following enhanced sanitization protocol and social distancing will be enforced. Face coverings are required in most areas of the resorts, including lift lines and on the lift.

*Note that ALL of the below information is subject to change and likely will after the first few weeks of the season plays out. I’ll try to update this post in red through the season if I get wind.


Southwestern & Central Pennsylvania Ski Resorts

Baby Pennsylvania mountains ❤

Currently, indoor space capacity for PA is 50% for all spaces including dining, lobbies, bathrooms, etc. Expect to see staff regulating this. You also cannot drink at a bar, must be consumed if dining only.

Boyce Park | Southwestern PA
This is a small hill in Monroeville/Plum, PA. Nothing is listed online but I highly recommend learning here. Their IG just posted that they’re opening so get excited! Visit Site

Blue Knob (Indy Pass) | Central PA
Walk-up ticket sales are OK, but online purchases are encouraged. Warming up in your vehicle instead of on public spaces is also encouraged. But, “Blue Knob All Seasons Resort has no plans to require skiers or riders to make a reservation [to ski or snowboard].”

  • All lessons and snow tubing must be reserved at least 24 hours in advance
  • No outside food or beverages to be brought inside. Food might end up being Grab n Go style.
  • Unless skiers/riders have traveled together, they must ride the chairlift as a single.
  • Groups will be scheduled at staggered arrival times to increase distancing.

Blue Knob Winter Operations Plan

Seven Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain (Highlands Pass) | Southwestern PA
7S was the first resort that I researched, and all this came as pretty shocking to me, but just wait…

  • All purchases have moved online for these 3 resorts, including purchasing lift tickets, rentals and lessons. It looks like the online system isn’t up yet but here’s their Lift Ticket page.
  • No strangers will be placed on a lift together, and if you prefer to sit as a single, they will do that. They’re going to work to space out the line including side by side distancing.
  • There will be online reservation system for dining at places like the Foggy Goggle at Springs and implementing online ordering. 7 Springs will be utilizing their base area for outdoor dining and adding new walk-up/takeaway dining options around the resort.
  • Masks are required. Including in the lift line and riding the lift.

7 Springs Winter Operations Plan | Hidden Valley Winter Operations Plan

Tussey Mountain | Central PA
A little hill out by Penn State, which I don’t think has the capacity to go all online. I think that you’ll be ok showing up and purchasing a lift ticket at a Point of Sale. Two singles can sit on opposite sides of their quad lift, too. Lessons will be restricted to 6 students.

Tussey Mountain Winter Operations Plan

Whitetail, PA

Whitetail, Roundtop, Liberty Mountains (Epic Pass, Vail Resorts) | Central PA
I looked up Whitetail only. I previously worked at Liberty when Peak Resorts acquired these three and moved right before Peak Resorts was purchased by Vail Resorts. Ah, consolidation. Epic pass resorts all have the same operations plan.

It looks like you will have to reserve a spot to ski or ride at these resorts. Pass holders will get priority access to reservation days. This is probably for the best and will make lift lines amazing, but… wow! Take a look at Whitetail’s Reservation Details.

Also, these resorts are cashless everywhere including hotel and restaurants.


West Virginia Ski Resorts

One of these fun WV resorts!

Canaan Valley (Indy Pass)
Projected opening unless its sunny and 75 the next few weeks: December 12th

I have not found any ski-specific outline of Canaan Valley’s operation. It is a West Virginia State Park and they will be following guidelines such as required face coverings and 6-ft distancing. There is a note that they are “updating our online booking capabilities” and to call to make a reservation at this point.

Canaan Valley Safety Guidelines

Timberline (NEW!)
Timberline is OPENING! This WV resort has some of the best terrain our area has to offer… and then it closed. In comes snow angels from midwest to resurrect this amazing spot with $10M in NEW everything! “Opening for winter 2020/21 with 2 NEW lifts, a remodeled lodge, 2 new terrain parks, a new beginner area, and increasing snowmaking!” Read More*Note for Christina to ski this immediately and post about it.

Anyway, here’s some quick bullets, and it looks like ticket sales will operate as usual for now.

  • Masks and distancing required and enforced
  • Group reservations are limited, Lesson capacity limited
  • Latest HVAC UV sanitization is installed
  • Season Passes will rollover to next season if they have to close the resort

Timberline Opening Winter Operations

Western Territory views at Snowshoe, WV

Snowshoe (Ikon)
Projected opening day pending global warming doom: December 4th

Buy online. Capacity limits will be in place, so walk up lift tickets are not guaranteed. “We strongly encourage our guests to purchase their tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.” Here is where you buy Snowshoe lift tickets online. I recommend you do this early in the week prior to weekends and holidays.

If you have a Season Pass or advance purchase a package, you will be good to ski and ride.
“At this time, Ikon Pass, Ikon Base Pass, Snowshoe Unlimited Pass, and Early Season Pass holders will not need reservations to ski and ride during the 2020/21 winter season at Snowshoe. Guests who advance purchase a package (including lift tickets/passes and lodging, etc.) are guaranteed mountain access for the dates of their booking.”

  • Reduced Lesson Capacity
  • Camps are cancelled
  • Expanded outdoor dining, no restaurants are closing but will be monitored by capacity.

Snowshoe Winter Operations Plan

Whitegrass (XC)
Right on Whitegrass’ home page, it warns us to prepare for online reservations for passes, rentals and lessons, and food will be grab ‘n go style. Visit Site


MARYLAND SKI RESORTS

Whales at Wisp Resort, MD

Wisp Resort
Get your Mission: Four’dable ticket pack if you don’t have a season pass. They’re on sale through Sunday, 11/29. Although I have a Snowshoe season pass, I am considering this when I need to get away without the long drive. Four’dable is $229 for a four pack of any-time tickets, which comes out to $57.25. A regular ticket is $89, so you save almost $32 each time. That’s a dozen wings and a couple BL smoothies!

This is another fully online set up with all products and activities to be purchased in advance.

  • Indoor capacity in MD for all spaces is also 50% – includes restrooms, lobbies, etc.
  • Nice bonus: Wisp will pro-rate a credit to your pass if they have to close due to COVID.

Wisp Resort Winter Operations Plan



Southwestern NY Ski Resorts

Peek’n Peak
Another strong recommendation to purchase tickets and activities online in advance. Looks like online ticketing isn’t ready quite yet either. I wonder if Liftopia is making bank from this.

This is interesting, and unique to this resort: “You will be required to sign-in upon entering the resort for use in contact tracing efforts.” These records will be retained for a minimum of 28 days.

Once more, outside food will not be permitted to be brought into resort dining facilities, including at The Main Lodge. (Believe me, this policy is great for the resorts. I’ve seen crock pots at the dining halls at Liberty… LOL!) And lessons reduced to 10 people.

Peek’n Peak Winter Operations Update

Holiday Valley
The most relaxed one yet, but let’s see if it can last: “Currently, we aren’t planning to place restrictions on passholders or require an advance reservation.” To ease the potential strain during peak periods, we are planning to open Yodeler and Mardi Gras lifts for Classic passholders at 8 am every Saturday between December 26th and February 27th.”

Holiday Valley Winter Operations Update

Well, good luck. It’s all pretty straight forward at this point. Do what you need to do. Get some blankets for the car, and increase your data plan if you can. As Tussey Mountain says, “Don’t be the reason there is no season.” Be safe. We got this. Snow love to you!

TL;DR: Buy your lift tickets online before you visit any resort this winter.

Holiday Valley, NY – some other year…

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