Ski Resort Round-Up

Ski Resort Round-Up

By Frederick Jerant

It all depends on your point of view.

At ground level, “snow” can mean back-breaking shoveling, hazardous driving, fighting for parking spaces, and difficulty walking outdoors.

But atop some Pennsylvania mountains, “snow” means days and nights of exhilarating fun – fast-paced skiing, tubing and snowboarding along tree-studded lanes upholstered with Nature’s crystalline beauty.

And although Vail, Aspen and Jackson Hole are top-notch winter sports destinations, our local attractions allow you to schuss, freestyle or slide to your heart’s content, for a lot less dough. Want proof? Then check out the exciting offerings of popular resorts in our area.

Bear Creek Mountain Resort,
Macungie

Bear Creek’s 86 acres of slopes, trails and terrain parks accommodate just about every level of sportster – from the gentle inclines of the beginner area, through a five-lane, 1,000-foot tubing park, to Sasquatch, a challenging black diamond trail with a 50% slope.

Marketing assistant Ryan Werst notes that there are several kids’ programs in the resort’s ski school, such as the Kodiak Rovers, for super-beginners ages 6-7, and the Kodiak Rangers – novice skiers and boarders, 6-12 years old.

He adds that the resort’s rental shop offers a “try before you buy” option for Burton snowboards; if you like the board you rent, you can get a discount on that model at the Burton store in King of Prussia.

And if you’re in the mood to just get away from the white stuff for a while, Bear Creek maintains a cozy après-ski lodge, and a 116-room hotel that offers panoramic views of  mthe resort.

Open from mid-December to mid-March. Weekdays: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; weekends, 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, or to make reservations, visit skibearcreek.com; call 866.754.2822, or e-mail [email protected].

Blue Mountain Ski Area & Resort,
Palmerton

As if the highest vertical in the state – 1,082 feet, according to marketing director Heidi Lutz – 3,000-foot double black diamond trails and six challenging terrain parks weren’t enough attractions for thrill-seekers, Blue Mountain offers the USA Luge.

Sculpted from over 400,000 cubic feet of snow, it’s the only natural luge track on the east coast. The quarter-mile-plus track lets you scream down the mountain on a tube, a mini-sled or luge sled at breakneck speeds. And lest you think it’s just hype, Blue Mountain is an official training and recruitment site of the USA Luge team.

The terrain parks are outfitted with jib, rails, boxes, bank turns and plenty of other features for skiers and snowboarders alike. Want to sharpen an outrageous trick? Then practice it safely, before you hit the slopes, on the Big Air Bag (similar to stuntmen’s fall cushions).

Blue Mountain features 39 trails, 21 tubing lanes and a total of 14 lifts. For more information, call 610.826.7700 or visit skibluemt.com. E-mail through the website.

Camelback Mountain Resort,
Tannersville

If skiing, boarding and tubing strike you as the same old same old, head out to Camelback. In addition to an assortment of trails and parks, the resort offers some wildly offbeat winter thrills.

…although Vail, Aspen and Jackson Hole are top-notch winter sports destinations, our local attractions allow you to schuss, freestyle or slide to your heart’s content, for a lot less dough.

How about a 4,500-foot (that’s nearly ¾-of-a-mile, dear readers!) steel-rail roller coaster that twists and turns along the mountain’s terrain? It’s the only one of its kind in Pennsylvania! But don’t expect to be jammed into a carful of other riders. You make this journey solo, in an open blue car that resembles a cross between a luge and a rowing machine.

And if you’d like to feel like Tarzan of the Mounties, swoop along one of the two 1,000-foot zip lines at Camelback. At 85’ up, you’ll fly through the trees, and above them, as you traverse the slopes in 30 seconds flat.

Are you more traditional? The resort also features 160 acres of terrain for skiing, snowboarding and tubing, with 24 trails and 14 lifts.  In fact, says director of winter marketing Brian Bossuyt, Camelback’s 42 lanes make it the largest snowtubing park in the US.

For additional details, visit skicamelback.com; call 570.629.1661; or e-mail [email protected]

Shawnee Mountain Ski Area
East Stroudsburg

All of the ski resorts in our area are family-friendly, and Shawnee is no different. It offers morning, afternoon and full-day programs (conducted by well-trained staff) with one goal in mind – helping youngsters to have fun in the snow.

Three-hour group-format sessions are available for novice skiers: SKIwee (ages 4-6) and Mountain Cruisers (ages 7-15); snowboarders can join the Young Riders (ages 7-15). And kids as young as 3 can participate in such specialized programs as SKIbaby, Mommy and Me, and WEEriders. Spokesman Jim Tust says beginners can learn in a fenced-off mini-terrain park, with gentle terrain and smaller snow features.

Of course, Shawnee caters to the more-experienced crowd as well. Its 125 skiable acres include 23 slopes and trails (the longest is 5,100 feet); and the “Pocono Plunge” snow tubing park features six chutes, two carpet lifts, and single-/double-rider tubes.

Shawnee also features two snowboard terrain parks: the Incubator, where novice boarders and skiers can hone their skills; and the 3,000-foot Bushkill, for more accomplished athletes. Both parks feature boxes, spines, table tops, rails, rollers, stairs, wall ride and a top-to-bottom sound system.

Schools, Scouts and youth groups can take advantage of special group packages at the resort, including accommodations at the Summit Lodge, nestled atop Shawnee Mountain.

Want to know more? Then visit shawneemt.com; e-mail: through the website, or call 570.421.7231. Note: the special kids’ programs tend to fill up quickly.

As you can see, there’s no need to organize a major excursion when you’re in the mood for some fun in the snow.  Just pack up your gear and hit the road – you’ll be coming down the mountain in no time!

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram