It doesn’t get much press in the ski and snowboard magazines, but Pennsylvania’s ski scene is alive and well. The Keystone State’s mid-Atlantic location makes it a popular destination for skiers from Virginia to New York. We did the legwork and found the six best ski resorts in Pennsylvania!
Due to COVID-19, safety measures were put in place by the State of Pennsylvania which impacted the 20/21 ski season.These included strict physical distancing, mandatory mask-wearing and contact tracing through the COVID Alert PA mobile app. In Carbon County, home to Elk Mountain Resort, capacity limits were implemented for indoor spaces and masks were mandatory at all times except when eating or skiing/snowboarding. Such restrictions are not anticipated to continue into the 21/22 winter season.
All things considered, Blue Mountain has a nice balance of things most of us look for and takes our top spot. Blue Mountain is bigger than most of the other resorts in the popular Poconos region and offers more varied trails than most of its neighbors. There are five terrain parks, catering to a wide array of freestylers, as well as glade skiing. The lodges are up to date and spacious, with a nice après scene- be sure to check out the Slopeside Pub and Grill! Even though there’s no slopeside lodging, there are hotels, B&Bs, and rentals very close by.
The slightly longer drive time from New York and Philly tends to keep the crowds smaller here. It offers the highest lift-served terrain in the eastern part of the state with 1,000 ft of vertical. The bumps, steeps, and long groomers are some of the best in the area, and Elk tends to get better snow than the rest of the Poconos. All of this for a reasonably priced ticket! Elk Mountain can be a great weekend choice and it's all about the skiing, as there aren’t any other activities here. Traditional hotels are all at least 10 mi away, but there are bed and breakfasts as well as vacation rentals close by.
Montage Mountain has more than 1,000 ft of vertical drop, and over a third of Montage’s runs are black diamond or double black – advanced or expert. That’s a significant chunk compared to most places in the state, with most of these in a bowl featuring challenging – if not terribly long - steeps. It also has a terrain park. But that doesn’t mean beginners have been left out! The summit ridge is easily accessible for new skiers and riders, giving them the sense of skiing more of the mountain than just the bunny slope! Montage is just off I-81 and practically in the city of Scranton’s backyard. Its proximity to town means there are plenty of places to eat, sleep, and grab a round or two after your day on the slopes is done!
Camelback offers something for everyone but it is most well known for its ski school. The mountain has a huge beginners’ area, with four magic carpets and relatively easy trails all the way up at the summit. There are also three terrain parks for a variety of skill levels. What sets Camelback apart from these other resorts is its high-speed quads which helps keep all those people moving. And all those visitors get to enjoy plenty of other attractions too: Camelback offers tubing and an indoor water park! There are many package deals available, and there’s plenty of dining and shopping nearby.
Blue Knob boasts more than 1,000 ft of vertical, the highest summit of any ski resort in the state, and some of the most challenging terrain. There are also bumps, glade skiing, a terrain park, and even a small bowl. Its elevation gives it better natural snowfall than many of the places in Pennsylvania, but the conditions aren’t always consistent. If the skiing isn’t great on a given day, there is a network of snowmobile trails and tubing to keep you busy. There are no high-speed lifts here, and the facilities on the slopes are dated. But for some of us, the lack of polish keeps the focus on the skiing! And the Alpine Village is just minutes away, with more dining options and a variety of lodging choices.
With six terrain parks offering everything from beginner rails to a 22 ft super pipe, Seven Springs is incomparable when it comes to its freestyle features. The great mix of terrain caters for all abilities, including some challenging terrain for advanced skiers. There are also plenty of non-skiing activities including snowmobiling and a sleigh ride through the forest. For some after-hours fun, the slope-side Foggy Goggle bar and late-night Matterhorn club can’t be missed! Despite being on the pricey side, Seven Springs offers everything from slope side accommodation to great dining options.