By Paul Maraschiello


There was snow on the ground and it was cold, so I knew that the skiing would be good at Whitetail, located only a little over an hour from Washington, D.C. and about the same distance from Baltimore. In my opinion, it's the best ski area within an easy drive, so I arranged a visit. I had taught there many years ago and still enjoy visiting even though most of my friends on the Ski School are long gone. Whitetail is an easy shot from Washington or Baltimore because it is all highway, only six miles from Rt. 70 at the Clear Spring exit.

Whitetail has an elevation of 1,800 ft. with a 935 ft. vertical drop. They have 19 trails serviced by 8 lifts and snowmaking on 100% of their trails. For the snowboarders and free skiers, there is a half pipe and a terrain park and night skiing every evening. For non-skiers there is a tubing park.

They have a GREAT flex-rate ticket price where you can purchase an adult 4-hour lift ticket for $51, 8-hours for $55 with cheaper prices ($40 & $45) midweek and night skiing is $34. They even have learn-to-ski packages from as low as $52 that includes lifts, lessons and rentals.

When I arrived, the lift line was short at the high speed quad and there was a Slopestyle competition going on in the Terrain Park. There were a group of eager skiers and snowboarders watching the competitors hit the table-tops, rails and 2 jumps. Some of these kids looked really young but they had no fear. I had fun watching them head down the coarse and do their thing. Skiers and riders tried their best of the jumps. Most completed their runs with only a few competitors crashing. I got some great photos of these kids taking gnarly "hits" and big air. Although I cover many Olympic-level and professional events, I enjoyed seeing these kids compete. Who knows, maybe some day Whitetail will produce an Olympic champion.

Because it was cold, Whitetail had the snow guns going on almost all of their trails. They have state-of-the-art equipment so it wasn't too unpleasant skiing under the guns. There is an old saying, "make snow when the sun shines" and at Whitetail they make snow whenever the temperature drops below freezing. As a result, there was great snow cover on all their trails.

I checked my skis and had lunch in Windows Restaurant. I ordered one of my favorites, the Caesar chicken salad. They let you select the meat (chicken, turkey or ham), lettuce, veggies and cheese. It is very healthy and filling. After lunch, I was back on the slopes. Whitetail only has a 935 ft. vertical but it keeps me in shape for big mountains. I headed to the "back side and rode up the chair. They had let the bumps build up on Exhibition and they were a bit challenging. Bold Decision was groomed flat and even though it is the steepest slope at Whitetail the good snow and lack of moguls made it a really fun trail to zoom down.

I was skiing alone and could get right back on the chair. There were so few people riding the Expert's Choice Quad that I could ski to the front of the line and join the first double or triple that I say. Often, they would invite me to join them before I even had a chance to ask. I went up and down and up and down as fast as I could all day long. The skiers I met that day were very friendly and I had fun chatting with them on the short chair ride and by 3 o'clock, I was ready to call it a day.

I drove home and went to bed early. One of the advantages to a day trip is sleeping in your own bed. I headed back to Whitetail the next day for more fun on the slopes. They had turned off the snow guns and the conditions were great. I find that a small mountain like Whitetail has enough challenges to keep me from getting bored. When it is bumped up, it can humble the best of skiers or at least, make them work. I had another fun day skiing down the mountain and hopping in the chair as fast as I could for another run. Up and down, up and down, and up and down I went. As fast as I could get down the mountain, I was back on the chair for another run.

They had the outdoor grill going and they were hosting a Burton Demo Day, so there were a lot of kids trying out new snowboards. I had a full day of skiing and I had another fun day skiing the bumps on Exhibition and doing some high-speed cruising down Bold Decision and Far Side. By the end of the day, my thighs were telling me it was time to head home. There is an old adage, "you only get hurt on the last run," and I believe it strongly. When you start to get tires, call it a day. It's better to drive home that to take a ride in the Ski Patrol toboggan and wind up in the hospital.

If you're in the D.C., N. Virginia or Baltimore area and don't have time to drive to New England or the money to fly out West or to Europe, drive up to Whitetail and make a few runs at this local ski area. You can have a blast there day of night. I guarantee it.