Charleston, WV – Skiers and snowboarders can start heading to the mountains of West Virginia for the Thanksgiving holiday, as the first downhill area plans to open for the 2020/2021 season. Snowshoe Mountain will officially be opening for the season Thursday morning at 9 am. The Pocahontas County facility will be providing skiers and snowboarders with 30 acres of available terrain, with three lifts operating.

For the other alpine areas in the state, Timberline Mountain will be having a “Preview Weekend” this Saturday and Sunday (November 27 & 28), then suspending on-slope operations to aggressively make snow and get going again the first weekend of December. Winterplace Ski area and Canaan Valley Resort are scheduled for a mid-December opening. Oglebay Resort will begin operations as soon as weather permits.

Seasonal temperatures across West Virginia this week have been cold enough for snowmaking operations to take place at most of the resorts. Some natural snow has already occurred at the higher elevations this fall.

The snowmakers at all the state’s ski resorts can produce manmade snow whenever temperatures permit, allowing the industry’s unsung heroes to cover the slopes for skiers and snowboarders. When snowmaking conditions are at their best (in the low teens), over 20,000 tons of snow is being produced in West Virginia per hour, enough snow to cover 20 football fields with a foot of snow each hour.

The West Virginia Ski Areas Association again this year is offering a program that will allow any child in the 4th or 5th grade to ski or snowboard for FREE. All of West Virginia’s ski areas, Canaan Valley, Oglebay, Snowshoe, Timberline and Winterplace are accepting the association’s Ski Free 4th and 5th Grade Passport Program.

The Passport may be used to obtain up to three (3) Junior lift tickets at participating resorts during the 2021-2022 season and one rental. Resort benefits are determined by each ski resort.

During a normal ski season, the mountain state’s ski resorts account for nearly 800,000 skier visits, but that figure depends on winter like conditions. The top states providing skiers and snowboarders to West Virginia slopes are Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.

It is recommended for all skiers and snowboarders to check with the resort they plan on visiting, to make sure they are up to date on all COVID-19 safety requirements required of visitors that are again in place this season.

The ski and snowboard season traditionally, weather permitting, continues from this point through early April. The five-month long ski season in West Virginia has an estimated economic impact of over $250 million and 5,000 jobs at the resorts and other related companies. For more information on skiing and snowboarding in West Virginia go on-line at www.goskiwv.com or www.skisoutheast.com.