For northern Westchester resident Lys Varcasia, grabbing her snowboard and heading up a snowy mountain only to come down at full speed with the wind blowing in her hair is an oasis like no other.
With the current health crisis bringing stress and turmoil to so many over the last year, it’s only natural to desire an escape. And a classic day of letting loose in the snow, whether it be hitting the slopes for some cross-country skiing or snow tubing down a steep hill, might be just what the doctor ordered.
And there’s no doubt it’s where you’ll find Varcasia on a weekend with her family. “My favorite thing is going down the mountain and just being free and not thinking about anything else,” she said. “Being in the mountains, the views are beautiful. And when you get off the jump, you’re not thinking about anything but the wind and picking up speed. It’s exhilarating.”
Whether you’re an avid skier/snowboarder, want to glide down a mountain in snow tube, go shopping or just need a weekend getaway in front of cozy fireplace, ski destinations across the state have something for everyone, and have also implemented health protocols to ensure safety for all.
Despite the distribution of the COVID vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still advise those to wear a mask and social distance by avoiding large gatherings and keeping a six-foot distance.
Health officials further warn to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, refrain from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, avoiding sick people, and staying inside if exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus.
Here are some places you can enjoy safely with your family or friends.
While a roughly two-hour trek from Westchester County, Hunter Mountain is taking reservations for some fun in the… snow.
Whether skiing, boarding, tubing, shopping, dining out or just enjoying the scenery, Hunter Mountain has everything you need for a quick family getaway. The destination offers four separate mountains with a wide variety of terrain to cater to all ability levels.
Pass holders are required to make a reservation to access the mountains and lift tickets must be purchases prior to arriving at the resort. Seasonal passes are no longer available for purchase.
Due to health restrictions, reservations will be needed every day to access any mountain so riders can enjoy the outdoors with proper distancing between parties. Face masks or coverings are mandatory to access all mountains, according to its website.
Additionally, all transactions at hotels, restaurants, ski and ride school, activities, and all other points of sale this season will be cashless, the website states, advising travelers to book online in advance via the resort website.
Hunter Mountain is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thunder Ridge Ski Area
Want something a little closer to home? With 22 trails, three chairlifts and four magic carpets, Thunder Ridge Ski Area is the perfect spot to spend the day. Located in Patterson in Putnam County, the destination offers slow and gentle slows to meet the needs of newer skiers and snowboarders and high impact trails for more advanced riders.
Unlimited seasonal passes are available for purchase online, with prices based on age from children to senior citizens. Midweek season passes are also available for all ages at $295.
Furthermore, lessons are offered for any beginner looking to learn.
Due to limited capacity, lift tickets must be purchased online and can be bought up to 14 days in advance of the arrival date. Online purchases are not refundable or transferable.
Going with a group of friends but hate the snow? No problem. Take in the panoramic view with a cup of hot chocolate inside the lodge or glass atrium that overlooks the mountain base and slopes. Reservations will be required to eat, and diners will be limited to 45 minutes.
Other safety restrictions will require all guests to a wear face mask or covering, unless eating or actively skiing. Seasonal lockers are not available, and guests will be prohibited from changing inside the lodge.
Additionally, reservations will be required for all lessons and equipment rentals.
Thunder Ridge Ski Area is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Windham Mountain Resort
Positioned in the Catskills, Windham Mountain Resort is worth the over two-hour drive to access the 285 skiable acres and 54 trails over two peaks, six terrain parks and 11 lifts. The destination offers skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and a ski and ride simulator. Snowtubing serviced by a conveyor lift and kids’ snowmobiles can be found at the resort’s Adventure Park.
Tickets for the Adventure Park are at a first come, first serve basis, and the park is expected to remain open through mid-March.
Windham Mountain offers a variety of passes and tickets, though it is encouraged all tickets, including lift access, be purchased online. Daily tickets are only available when terrain is open for skiing and riding and must be purchased by 11:50 p.m. the night before a trip to receive a discount, according to the website.
Pricing and quantity of tickets will vary by day and are nonrefundable. Tickets unable to be used can be transferred to another day during the winter season. Advanced reservations for rentals will be required.
No on-site purchase of rental equipment will be accepted.
Masks are required, except during active skiing and riding, and indoor lodging will be limited to a 50 percent capacity. There will be no changing rooms, lockers, or cubbies available in the base lodge and no bags or personal belongings can be left in the building.
The resort has also shifted to cashless transactions.
Windham Mountain Resort is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.