The second of a four-part series exploring remarkable ski destinations
The Pocono Mountains are a scenic region in Northeastern Pennsylvania—stretching across four counties, the area is famous as an all-year-round vacation destination due to its number of resorts; lovely historic towns, and epic outdoor recreation opportunities; that includes everything from the relaxing and tranquil to the adventurous and daring—and everything in between a four-season destination that truly has something for everyone.
However, the region really shines in the wintertime, when visitors flock to the area for some of the best winter recreation activities and outdoor adventures in the Northeast. Historically known as a ski destination, the Poconos opened the state’s first commercial ski area in 1946—and has been going strong ever since. But the area’s spectacular slopes are just the tip of the iceberg; as there are a number of other winter wonders to explore that make the area one of the most enchanting places to visit—even in PA’s colder winter months.
Hit The Slopes At One Of The Poconos’ Famous Ski Areas
There are a number of exciting ski resorts in the Poconos, making it a top winter destination for skiers and snowboarders everywhere who want to test their mettle on the area’s famous slopes. With ideal winter conditions and the snowmaking potential to keep fresh powder on the ground throughout the season, Pocono Mountains’ ski areas are a perfect winter weather destination for both outdoor enthusiasts and those looking to bask in the scenic beauty of the area. Below is a definitive guide to the area’s ski resorts—and what visitors can see and do while staying and playing—both outdoors, and indoors.
Get Vertical At Blue Mountain Ski Resort
Scenic Blue Mountain Resort is at the southern edge of the Poconos; located in the small town of Palmerton PA, the resort has become on of the top outdoor adventure destinations in the area—and with a location less than two hours from both Philadelphia and New York, it’s the ideal spot for those who want to escape the city and get into the great outdoors.
Blue Mountain is currently open for the 2021-2022 season; and this year, they are opening their 40th trail complete with automated snowmaking and LED lighting—and the newest addition is sure to be a hit with snow bunnies everywhere. Blue Mountain is also home to PA’s highest vertical, clocking in at 1,082 feet—but even beginners will find something here to smile about, as the resort’s trails offer varied terrain and a chance for all skill levels to strap on their skis and boards. With additional opportunities for night skiing; five terrain parks that offer something for everyone; and 16 lifts that make it easy and convenient to access the trails, Blue Mountain is a winter sports enthusiast’s dream. Not into boarding and skiing? Blue Mountain also has snow tubing that is second to none—46 total lanes, each over 1,000-feet long, snow tubers can have a blast speeding down both the longest and fastest lanes in the Keystone State.
Blue Mountain Resort also offers a variety of on-site dining options for those looking for a great place to dine after hitting the slopes. From mountain-top chalet-style dining with amazing views to casual cafeterias that offer quick bites and snacks in between runs, the resort’s mountain dining options are the perfect place to cap off a memorable day.
Though there are no onsite accommodations available at Blue Mountain, there are plenty of conveniently located options in the area, from Airbnbs to nearby hotels that make it easy to make a visit to Blue Mountain into a full-fledged winter getaway. The resort is also close to a number of area attractions in the surrounding towns that offer plenty to see and do when you’re not on the mountain.
Majestic Mountains At Jack Frost And Big Boulder
Jack Frost and Bog Boulder are two of the most well-known ski resorts in the Poconos. Though both owned by Vail Resorts, the two ski areas offer distinct experiences that make them top destinations for winter sports lovers. Both resorts are located less than two hours from Philadelphia and about three hours from New York—making them both easy and convenient to get to—whether it’s for a day trip or a full vacation getaway. Neither lodge has onsite accommodations; but there are plenty of comfortable and elegant lodging options nearby—from lovely resorts to historic, cozy inns.
Big Boulder has a storied history within the annals of local ski lore. Located in the beautiful Lake Harmony area of the Poconos, Big Boulder became the first commercial ski resort in the state upon its opening in the late 1940s—and the first spot where snowmaking became commercially, and successfully, used. Big Boulder has a total of 15 trails and 10 lifts that are perfect for skiers and riders of all skill levels; it also boasts the largest terrain park system in the Poconos for freestyle enthusiasts looking to explore the mountain in a fun—and safe—way. Big Boulder is currently slated to open for the 2021-2022 season in mid-December.
There are a number of onsite dining options available for those who want to grab a bite after a long day on the slopes; from full-service, bars and grilles to The Lodge Cafeteria with its quick bites and snacks, visitors have their choice of a number of delicious dining experiences. Be sure to try Big Boulder’s T-Bar for the best panoramic mountain views.
Note: COVID-19 protocols are in effect at all Big Boulder and Jack Frost restaurants, and proof of vaccination for diners 12 and over is required for indoor dining.
Jack Frost is the nearby companion resort to Big Boulder. Opened in 1972, Jack Frost prides itself on being the first ski area to open in the state of Pennsylvania every year. Currently open and welcoming skiers everywhere, the mountain’s 20 trails range from easy to most difficult—and skiers of all skill levels will love the resort’s freestyle options at their two terrain parks, too. Jack Frost also has some amazing opportunities for snow tubing adventures for those looking for another exciting way down the mountain.
Jack Frost also has a variety of onsite dining options, including the grab-and-go Cafe Frost where visitors can grab healthy snacks and casual fare such as burgers; and Fiddler’s Fridge, known for their famous wings and happening bar that often hosts live music.
Stay And Play At Camelback Resort
Voted the #1 Lodge for Skiing in Pennsylvania, Camelback Resort is located in the lovely town of Tannersville, PA—right in the heart of the Poconos. An epic mountain adventure offering skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing opportunities for those of all ages and skill levels, Camelback’s 39 trails over 166 acres of slopes also includes the biggest snow tubing park in the area complete with 42 fast and furiously fun lanes. There are also plenty of indoor activities here, too; making Camelback the ideal family-friendly inclusive resort destination. Whether it’s a fun day trip to hit the slopes or a week-long vacation destination, Camelback offers world-class outdoor recreation and top accommodations that make it one of the best all-in-one resorts in the Poconos.
With almost 500 rooms and indoor and outdoor activities galore, Camelback Resort has everything visitors need for an amazing vacation—all in one place. They also have a variety of stay and play packages that make it easy for everyone to customize their winter getaway—from couples looking for a romantic escape to families looking to make the most of a winter weekend in the beautiful Pocono Mountains.
There are also a myriad of dining options onsite that make it easy for visitors to enjoy their time both inside and outside Camelback. From casual eateries serving up burgers and beer; to snacks and epic BBQ (and even tacos!), this Poconos resort even has food trucks where skiers, tubers, and boarders can grab a quick bite and brew between runs.
The fun doesn’t stop on the slopes—Camelback Resort has plenty of indoor fun inside the lodge, too. An epic indoor waterpark, laser tag, rock climbing, and plenty of games at the Arcadia Arcade are just some of the family-friendly activities at this super fun resort.
Small But Mighty—Ski Shawnee Mountain
Located in scenic East Stroudsburg, Shawnee Mountain Ski Area is another resort packed with fun winter activities. Located just a short drive from northern New Jersey, Philadelphia, New York City, and the Lehigh Valley region, Shawnee is a great spot to hit the slopes—and then hit the exciting area to explore its amazing dining, lodging, and top attractions.
Set to open on Christmas Eve 2021, Shawnee’s 23 trails will be ready with their 100% snowmaking capabilities to welcome the season. Complete with two fun terrain parks and a snow tubing park for those who prefer a tube to skis; Shawnee is a great spot for people of all ages and skill levels to get outside and enjoy the lovely, scenic Pocono Mountains. The resort also offers night skiing (weather permitting), a fun and exciting way to explore the mountain after dark.
Though Shawnee does not offer onsite accommodations of its own, they do partner with some of the top lodging spots in the Poconos to make planning a ski and stay getaway easy and convenient. Though the closest lodging is the classic Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort, there are also plenty of cottages and cabin rentals nearby for those who want a more private (and rustic) lodging experience.
Come for the skiing, boarding, and tubing at Shawnee, and after a long day hitting the slopes, head out to explore the area’s many delicious restaurants. Want to take a break from the cold winter chill? Then head out to explore one of the many local attractions in the greater Stroudsburg area—all within a short (and incredibly scenic!) drive away from Shawnee.
Other Places To Hit The Slopes In The Poconos
The fun doesn’t stop at the major resorts; as there are also other fun options where visitors can get a singular (and less crowded) ski experience. Ski Big Bear at Masthope Mountain is a fun spot located in Lackawaxen PA, located within the Upper Delaware River National Park in Pike County. With 18 trails for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing, this beautiful Poconos ski resort is expected to open by December 26th for the 2021-2022 season. While there are no onsite accommodations at Big Bear, there are a myriad of local lodging options that offer ski & stay packages.
Skytop Lodge is a distinctive Pocono ski experience, with its panoramic views and wide trails that meander through the tranquil Pennsylvania woods, Skytop offers the opportunity to ski, board, and tube on its lovely 5,500-acre property. Stay at the lodge’s elegant and secluded inn; gather for a bite at any of the onsite restaurants ranging from casual taproom style fare to classic, traditional cuisine in an idyllic setting; and have an adventure with numerous onsite activities both on and off the slopes, including ice fishing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and more.
The Pocono Mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania are an all-season, family-friendly vacation destination complete with scenic natural beauty; historic towns and local attractions; exciting dining, lodging, and shopping options, and a number of outdoor activities—both in the warm, summer months and the chillier, snowy winter chill. Known especially for its amazing ski resorts and variety of outdoor activities, the Poconos are the perfect spot for everyone to enjoy a memorable winter getaway—both on and off the slopes.
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