It's a Short Hop to the Top of the Hill

149 MILES AWAY: Non-skiers can get their thrills by taking
149 MILES AWAY: Non-skiers can get their thrills by taking "The Plunge" at Wintergreen. (Wintergreen Resort)
By Carol Sottili
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 2, 2007

Here we go again.

The latest word from the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center is that the mid-Atlantic has a decent chance of another winter of above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation.

With that in mind, we took a look at a dozen local mountains and (no surprise here) found that, generally, the farther you drive, the more natural snow you'll find. But don't discount the closer-in locations: All have extensive snowmaking abilities that they will employ as soon as temperatures dip. Pick a slope that fits, slap the ski racks on the car and hope for cold weather.

Here's a look at the resorts, starting from the farthest away from downtown Washington to the closest. Snow statistics were gleaned from and from the individual resorts, and distances and drive times are from; lift ticket prices are per day. Opening dates subject to change; check with the individual resort.

Snowshoe Mountain Resort

Where: Snowshoe, W.Va.

Distance:257 miles (4 hours 48 minutes).

Opening date: Nov. 21 (last year, Nov. 23).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 180 inches (last season, 120 inches).

* Average season length: 131 days (133 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season Friday-Sunday lift ticket is $70 for an adult (9 a.m.-10 p.m.).

Best for . . . enthusiasts serious about skiing and partying. A 1,500-foot vertical drop, three new expert trails and three terrain parks put it in the big leagues. A comedy club and nightclub keep night life fresh.

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