Don’t let snow bury you in a frozen tundra. Instead, cure yourself of cabin fever by taking advantage of Mother Nature’s seasonal bounty.
Whether its’s downhill or cross-country skiing, snowtubing, ice skating, or some simple sledding, the Pocono Mountains offer up a fine mix of sporting activities. And escaping to one of our resorts may be just the ticket for warding off the doldrums. By visit’s end, your chill factor will be replaced by a toasty inner glow.
Skytop Lodge opened its chateau-style doors in 1928, and has spent the intervening decades transforming a 5,500 acre spread into the penultimate playground for generations of families.
The crown jewel among its offerings is a toboggan run, which propels users down a vertical drop, and over a densely ice-covered lake. According to Christy Ranallo, Skytop’s sales and marketing director, this is the winter sport that intrigues vacationers the most. “Tobogganing either excites or intimidates, with little middle ground,” she laughs. “The sheer height and speed elicit a range of emotions.” The property also makes use of its onsite trout stream by offering ice fishing, which is also available through lakes stocked with largemouth bass, perch, and pickerel.
On nearby terra firma, there are ski and snowboard amenities, the Lodge’s only winter activities open to the public. Here, all ages and skill levels are greeted with lessons and rentals. A cozy Adventure Center punctuates the experience with warm-up fuel like cocoa and s’mores.
Thirty miles north, through the winding roads of Hawley, is Woodloch Pines, a vast expanse of family fun waiting to be savored. Plan a day of traversing wilderness trails on snowshoes or defying gravity in a fast-flying snowtube. Just don hats and gloves, and let the resort staff supply your equipment.
But there’s a new kid in town who commands attention. Starting this winter, a rink with a synthetic ice surface will allow four seasons of skating. “It’s nearly 9,000 square feet,” explains Erica Bloch, public relations manager at the Pines. “We think this new facility will pack enough punch to keep our guests entertained year-round.” Thrill seekers can also give the white caps at Big Bear a rigorous workout. The Lackawaxen ski resort pairs with Woodloch to offer overnighters complimentary lift tickets and other discounts.
Of course, when it comes to snow-covered trails, Camelback is the granddaddy of them all. There are 35 runs, to be precise, and they cover an astounding 166 acres of Tannersville. The longest of these, a behemoth called the Nile Mile, is over 5,250 feet of groomed bumps and glades. With such intense fire power, it’s no wonder this is the premier ski destination in the Poconos.
But, despite a reputation for catering to diehard powder hounds, Camelback boasts plenty of novice to intermediate skiing for family pursuits. The majority of trails, in fact, are geared toward the entry-level weekend warrior. And, to accompany these slopes is a system of 16 lifts that whisk riders to their downhill and tubing lures in a jiffy.
At Palmerton’s Blue Mountain Resort, safety takes top billing. Select employees, trained by the National Ski Patrol Association, not only provide security on the slopes, but also present lessons for school groups and ski clubs.
The Mountain, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, has thrived in recent years, bucking the trend of dwindling outdoor destinations. “We have the only park in the Poconos with family-sized snowtubing,” boasts Melissa Yingling, Blue’s marketing specialist. The facility has nearly 40 lanes that are over 1,000 feet long, so everyone can coast at exhilarating speeds. A range of moguls and terrains run the gamut from Lazy Mile to Razor’s Edge, guaranteeing skiers and boarders a keen on-the-snow experience. “Outdoor enthusiasts can really get their fill here,” Yingling notes.
If you’re located in a place called White Haven, then skiing has to be part of the equation. Where family-friendly terrain goes, Jack Frost Big Boulder more than satisfies.
At a moment’s notice, staffers are ready to fire up their snow guns to sculpt the perfect slopes for running. “Kids can practice their junior jumps, while mom and dad take on the intermediate groomers,” says Heather Schiffbauer, the property’s marketing director. Season passes allow a broad clientele to bask in their surroundings. “They can ski and tube as much as they possibly can.”
Staying at Split Rock Lodge, in adjacent Lake Harmony, yields an advantage. JFBB sells vouchers to Split Rock, who incorporates them into special deals for their stayovers.
A tale of two settings – austere accommodations and rugged sports — distinguish Pocono Manor as another luxe getaway.
Start your day honing those triple axel moves for this month’s Pyeongchang Olympics, and end it in a horse-drawn sleigh ride. Throw in a bit of snowmobiling, perhaps some sledding and trap shooting, and an itinerary is set. Erin Calpin, marketing manager at the Manor, feels it’s about having something for everyone. “Full-day family programs are here for the asking. Diverse activities are what keeps our guests happy.”
And some of that happiness must be geared toward one of the region’s most unique offerings: dog sledding. Coordinated by Arctic Paws, an hour-long session engages participants in dog mushing and first-hand training. “It’s our ultimate ode to Old Man Winter,” says Calpin.
By: Tom Eccleston