Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ski Appalachia

We here in the central and southern Appalachian Mountains have some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities for full-time adrenaline junkies and the not-so-intense-weekend warriors. Cold temperatures don't appear to be a deterrent to many people's desire to be outside. Now that winter has fully arrived, I'm seeing more cars sporting skis and snowboards on their roof racks. These folks aren't just heading to the slopes for a test of their skills and some fun but also pumping millions of dollars into the local economies of their snowy destination. Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia recently had this to say about the economic impact of the ski industry on his state while marking the anniversary of the state's first ski area, Canaan Valley:

During the past 35 years, ski destinations such as Snowshoe, Timberline, Winterplace, and Canaan Valley Resort and State Park have attracted tens of millions of visitors to West Virginia and kept our economy vibrant and strong. The estimated economic impact of West Virginia’s ski industry is in excess of $250 million each year. To the restaurant operators, hotel owners and small businesses around West Virginia’s ski area, the winter blankets of snow create a tremendous economic impact through a peak seasonal employment of more than 3,000 people."

West Virginia probably benefits the most from this industry, mainly due to Canaan and Snowshoe's proximity to large population bases (a couple hours drive from southwestern PA and the DC metro area) and their reputation for top quality skiing but the impact is similar on a smaller scale in all of these areas. The addition of snow tubing parks to a majority of the ski resorts have opened the door to visitors who don't need balance skills and stamina to have fun. Only warm clothes and a reluctance to fight gravity are required. Many resorts are also cashing in on warm weather activities too. Mountain bike races and outdoor concert series are the norm at some of the larger resorts in the summer months.

And just where can you find these places to have a controlled slide down a mountain?

North Carolina
Appalachian Ski Mountain
Cataloochee Ski Area
Hawksnest Resort
Sapphire Valley
Scaly Mountain
Ski Beech Resort
Sugar Mountain
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort

Ober Gatlinburg

Bryce Resort
Massanutten Resort
The Homestead

West Virginia
Alpine Lake
Canaan Valley
Elk River
Snowshoe Mountain
and if you just want good old fashion sledding, try Blackwater.

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