|Canaan Valley Resort State Park|
|West Virginia State Park|
Blackwater River in the park.
|Elevation||3,360 ft (1,024.1 m)|
|Area||6,015 acres (2,434.2 ha)|
|- Original acquisition||1957 |
|Management||Guest Services, Inc.|
|Owner||West Virginia Division of Natural Resources|
|Nearest city||Davis, West Virginia|
Location of Canaan Valley Resort State Park in West Virginia
|Website: Canaan Valley Resort State Park|
Canaan Valley Resort State Park is a state park within Canaan Valley, Tucker County, West Virginia. Located in the highest valley east of the Mississippi River, the park contains the second-largest inland wetland area in the United States. The valley featured the first commercial ski development in West Virginia.
In 1950 and 1951, members of the Washington Ski Club identified the Canaan Valley side of Cabin Mountain as an opportune place for ski development, based on pilots' reports. Because of its protection from the sun, snow on that side of the mountain often remains until April or later.
The club began slope development in the early 1950s, signing a ten year operational lease with local landowners in 1954. Their slope, named Cabin Mountain Ski Area, featured two rope tows on 40 acres (0.16 km2) of terrain stretching from route 32 to a height of 3,600 feet (1,100 m). Runs extended .25 miles (400 m) down a slope with a vertical drop of 300 feet (91 m). It was the first commercial ski establishment south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The ski area closed in 1962.
In 1955, University of Virginia School of Law student Robert Barton established Weiss Knob Ski Area, climbing the slope of Weiss Knob above the Cabin Mountain site to a height of 3,900 feet (1,200 m). It featured 60 acres (0.24 km2) of terrain serviced by a t-bar as well as three rope tows. This site was acquired by the state of West Virginia in 1959, so Barton reopened "Weiss Knob Ski Area" at a new site on Cabin Mountain's Bald Knob. Opening in fall 1959, the new site featured four rope tows and the first snowmaking equipment in West Virginia; in its first season, 412 inches (10.5 m) of snow fell, burying the equipment and closing the facility for the year. The resort remained open until 1970, when the impending opening of Canaan Valley Resort prompted Barton to go out of business. This new ski area was actually a redevelopment of the original Weiss Knob site; the second Weiss Knob site would be re-opened as the second home of White Grass Ski Touring Center in 1981.
In 1957, the state of West Virginia made its first land acquisition with an eye toward further developing a ski industry in West Virginia. Sarah Maude Thompson Kaemmerling granted 3,149 acres (12.74 km2) to the state in the 1950s for the formation of a state park with the stipulation that the state make a matching 3,000-acre (12 km2) acquisition. The state would go on to claim more than 30 properties between 1964 and 1970. It was not until 1971, however, that the Canaan Valley Resort State Park was established centering on the ski slopes at the southern end of the Valley. In 1972, an 18 hole golf course was also constructed there. The lodge at Canaan Valley Resort State Park Lodge opened in 1977.
The park has been very successful and several private ski operations have opened nearby and in other parts of the state as well.
Canaan Valley Resort opened for skiing in 1971, on the original site of Weiss Knob Ski Area. It offers 39 ski trails, two terrain parks, snow tubing, and since the 2005-06 season has been one of six ski resorts in the United States to allow airboarding on its slopes. A chairlift and rope tow access the resort's beginner skiing area, on the far right of the mountain (facing up the slope). Other than this terrain and one long green trail running from the summit to the resort base, practically all the mountain terrain is marked more difficult or most difficult. These blue and black slopes generally descend the mountain at the same pitch, regardless of their difficulty marking. A triple chair and quad chair access the resort summit; the latter also has a mid-mountain station, which is the point at which airboarders are separated from other mountain users.
White Grass Touring Center opened for cross-country skiing in 1979 on White Grass Knob near Harrisonburg, Virginia. Two years later, the operation was moved to the site of the second Weiss Knob Ski Area. The resort uses Weiss Knob's former lodge as its day lodge; it is one of the oldest dedicated cross country ski areas in the United States. Because of its status as a former downhill slope, White Grass is an unusually steep cross country area, with nearly 1,200 feet (370 m) of vertical rise -- more than at neighboring downhill slope Canaan Valley Resort. Its 45 trails are rated approximately 30% easy, 55% intermediate, 15% most difficult; climbs are available to the summit of 4,436-foot (1,352 m) Weiss Knob by intermediate skiing, and to 4,308-foot (1,313 m) Bald Knob via easier or intermediate trails. White Grass staff also conduct back-country tours into the wilderness areas that surround the center.
The resort's trails stretch along the northern slope of Cabin Mountain from Canaan Valley Resort northeast to Timberline Four Seasons Resort. It also provides access to Dolly Sods wilderness area on the east, and to trails in Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge on the west. There are more than 50 kilometres (31 mi) of cross-country trails on White Grass property, and more than 100 kilometres (62 mi) of trails are locally accessible. Half of the established trails at White Grass are machine groomed. The resort harvests its 150 inches (3.8 m) of natural snowfall with 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) of snow fences. Lighted night skiing has been made available on a beginner track. The resort also supports snowshoeing and telemark skiing.
White Grass has been described as catering to a "fleece-and-flannel scene". During the summer, it is the site of a 500-acre (2.0 km2) dairy farm. The resort's organic cafe has become a popular attraction, publishing two novelty cookbooks. As of 2004 the resort lodge consumed less than $2 worth of electricity per day, and was heated by a wood-burning stove. In 2003 the resort was recognized by the West Virginia Environmental Council for the environmental sustainability of its operations, such as its snow farming. In 1994 The Washington Post cited White Grass Touring Center as one of the ten best Nordic ski areas in the nation.
Canaan Valley Resort State Park features a 250 room ski lodge, cabins, and camping. The park also provides hiking trails, bike trails, and a championship-level golf course.
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