Yesterday was the perfect day for snowboarding.
The weather was gorgeous (in the 20’s, no wind, and not a cloud in the sky) and best of all, Hercules had recently passed through. The winter storm had dumped seven inches of fresh powder throughout the state, and blankets of fresh snow were glistening under the sun. I decided to take my first trip up to the Poconos in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Although the midwest might be the best place in the country for snowboarding and skiing, I’m on a mission to find the best area in the northeast. While nothing beats Park City, Vail, or Lake Tahoe, it’s nice for us northeasterners to find a place that’s within driving distance, whether for a day trip or for a weekend getaway, instead of having to hop on a plane with all that equipment (and the extra cost of airfare).
I’ve gone snowboarding in the northeast before, in New Jersey. It was okay. The ski area was nice and all, but the landscaping was somewhat underwhelming. The Poconos, however, is beautiful. And after a heavy snowfall, it looks like something right out of a Christmas card. I can see why this is the go-to area for so many people in the region. Even if you live in the south and you’re thinking about booking a ski trip, don’t overlook the option of visiting the Poconos.
When it comes to selecting a ski area, you’ve got a lot of options. I visited the Shawnee Mountain Ski Area. The area itself is somewhat small compared to other ski areas I’ve been to, but the runs are plentiful and it’s got something for everyone. They have a beginner’s area, Little Chief, which is actually a pretty decent area to learn on– I’ve been to some ski areas that designate only a tiny, almost flat area for those learning. Shawnee gives beginners a pretty decent hill for practicing. In addition to a magic carpet lift, Little Chief also has a standard chair lift.
Shawnee has four other lifts that service the green, blue, and black runs– two doubles, and two quads. I stuck to the “double-double” lift while I was there. Although I can manage getting down an entire mountain without falling, for some reason, I still can’t properly exit the chair lift and I didn’t want to subject other people to my clumsiness, ha.
The double-double ride was quite long, but a long chair lift ride means a long run. I love that! I hate finishing a run quickly and having to jump back on the chair again, over and over. I am still working on completely mastering the greens, so I took Blue Mountain to Upper Pennsylvania, and then to Meadows, followed by Lower Pennsylvania, which then led to Greenhouse Slope (see their trail map here). It was perfect; nice and long, but not too long that I ended up getting exhausted or lost (like I did that one time in Vail).
After 3pm, I noticed that the slopes became much more crowded, and then realized that this is when their discounted nighttime session begins. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. For someone who is still somewhat a beginner, like me, it wasn’t good. My main objective at that point was the avoid slamming into a lot of the many people who were stopped or struggling. My other issue was all the tracks I was running into. Argh, I hate that! But, if you’re an experienced skier/snowboarder, can handle the colder weather and a crowded mountain doesn’t phase you, a nighttime ticket is definitely a great value.
They also have snowtubing, a lodge with a cafeteria, and a fully-stocked shop. Joe actually realized once we got there that he was missing a glove. Luckily, the shop had a plethora of options. But you may wanna come already prepared by making sure you already have all of your snowboard gear (great options on Amazon!) Aside from the proper gloves, you’ll want a snowsuit (which will be waterproof and keep you warm), goggles, boots, and under armor. If you’re in the market for a new snowboard, I highly recommend Burton snowboards. That’s what Joe and I both have, and not only are they awesome looking, but they’ve taken quite a beating over the years. I don’t know much about skis because I’ve actually never gone skiing before. If you’ve got any recommendations for skis, comment below!
Lodging in the Poconos
Need a place to stay? The following are some great lodging options in the area: