Discover winter fun within driving distance
Compared to the great ski places in New England—not to mention the ones out in the West—those in the Poconos might seem “vertically challenged,” and lack the sheer visual grandeur. But in comparison they offer an excellent variety of skiing and snowtubing/snowboarding experiences just a few hours away.
The six we selected are within half an hour from Interstate 80, easily reachable from the George Washington Bridge. They all sell multi-day packages that will save money, and encourage buying lift tickets online. Most offer equipment rentals and lessons, and some provide night entertainment as part of a resort experience.
Note that all have holiday or weekend rates in effect from Dec. 26, 2017 through Jan. 1, 2018, and during the Martin Luther King (Jan. 13-15, 2018) and Presidents Day (Feb. 17-24, 2018) holiday weekends or weeks.
Big Boulder Mountain
357 Big Boulder Drive, Lake Harmony, PA 18624
Mountain Stats: Summit elevation: 2,175 feet; Base elevation: 1,700 feet; Vertical drop: 475 feet; Trails: 15; Lifts: 10
Jack Frost Ski Resort
The mountains of Jack Frost and Big Boulder are under one management company, and the website states that they “complement one another nicely and offer guests two discount experiences on the same lift ticket.”
The resorts also boast that they are the first to open and last to close in all of Pennsylvania. Opening dates in the past decade have come as early as mid-November. Both are reachable from Exit 284 on I-80. Info for both at www.jfbb.com. Call 570-443-8425.
Mountain Stats: Summit elevation: 2,000 feet; Base elevation: 1,400 feet; Vertical drop: 600 feet; Trails: 20; Lifts: 12
Lift Tickets: For both resorts, adults (ages 18-64) start off at $50 midweek and $60 for weekends/holidays. Call for season and multi-day passes.
Hours: Jack Frost hours are generally 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. while Big Boulder’s range from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Blue Mountain Resort
1660 Blue Mountain Dr., Palmerton, PA 18071 (Exit 304 on I-80); www.skibluemt.com; 610-826-7700
This year-round family resort really stands out in the winter. It bills itself as the “home of Pennsylvania’s highest vertical, the most varied terrain and some of the longest runs.”
Mountain Stats: Elevation: 1,543 feet; Vertical drop: 1,082 feet; Trails: 39; Lifts: 16
Lift Tickets: Off-peak start at $47 (online) and $52 (at window). Peak are $5 more. Night and access passes and other specials are available.
Hours: Off-peak are Monday-Friday, non-holiday from 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Peak include: Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting.
301 Resort Dr., Tannersville, PA, 18372 (Exit 299 from I-80); www.skicamelback.com; 570-629-1661
This year-round resort boasts that it has been voted the No. 1 resort in Pennsylvania four years in a row and offers the biggest skiing and snowboarding terrain in the area, as well as the Biggest Snowtubing Park in the USA. In addition, it is 100 percent lit for night skiing and home of award-winning learning programs.
Mountain Stats: Vertical rise: 800 feet; Skiable acreage: 162; Trails: 37; Lifts: 16
Lift Tickets: Adult (ages 19-64) start at $53 all day and $39 for 3 p.m. to close. Junior, senior and military discounts apply.
Hours: The ski and snowboard season begins Dec. 15 and remains open for snow sliding fun into April. Hours may vary, but generally are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Call 570-629-1661 Ext. 5 for detailed operating hours on the day of your visit.
Shawnee Mountain Ski Area
401 Hollow Rd., East Stroudsburg, PA 18301 (Exit 310 on I-80); www.shawneemt.com; 570-421-7231
The website boasts that the resort’s “snow guns are locked and loaded all over…just waiting for a good cold snap and we’ll fire away.” SA ski rating website states that the area “has earned a reputation for aggressive snowmaking and quality grooming….[it] offers day and night skiing, snowboarding and a tubing park.” Season lasts from early December through March 31, weather permitting.
Mountain Stats: Base elevation: 650 feet; Vertical drop: 700 feet; Elevation: 1,350 feet. Trails: 23; Lifts: 9
Lift Tickets: For adults (19-61) start at $55 weekdays, $65 weekends/holidays and $35 from 3 p.m. until close. Discounts for youth, college, military/veterans and seniors (65-69). Super seniors (70-plus) ski for free.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Ski Big Bear
192 Karl Hope Blvd., Lackawaxen, PA, 18435 (Exit 309 on I-80); www.ski-bigbear.com; 570-226-8585
Ready for its 41st season, Ski Big Bear is part of the Masthope Mountain year-round resort. “Our mountain has something for everyone with a near equal amount of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain,” touts the website. The opening weekend is slated for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16-17 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.
Mountain Stats: Elevation: 1,250 feet; Base: 600 feet; Vertical drop: 650 feet. Trails: 18; Lifts: 6
Lift Tickets: Regular full-day tickets (ages 13-64) are $48 on weekdays and $60 on weekends, Morning/night only tickets are available, as are junior, senior and military discounts.
Hours: Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except for Dec. 26-27 and Feb. 20-21. Generally open until 9 p.m., except for Mondays (4:30 p.m.) and Sundays (7 p.m.) Opens at 9 a.m., except for Saturdays (8 a.m.) Night skiing rates begin at 4 p.m., except for Mondays (1 to 4:30 p.m.)