Wisp Resort, McHenry (Western Panhandle) • 100 skiable acres on 610′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 3080′; Base elevation: 2470′. 8 Lifts: 3 triples, 2 doubles, 3 surface. Uphill Capacity: 6000/hr. Terrain Mix: 20-50-30. Longest Run: 7,920′. Season: usually Thanksgiving through mid March, 7 days. Night Skiing Tues-Sat. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 100″. Snowmaking: 90%.
The SKInny: The only knock on Wisp is the short vertical. It feels like a big mountain — at 3,000+ summit it’s certainly cold enough — and the lake approaches are reminiscent of New Hampshire’s Cannon. Oddly enough, wanderers have plenty of room to explore, beginners will feel comfortable, and even the hotshot can find some challenging terrain. Most Marylanders ski in Pennsylvania; exiting I-70 a lot closer to home. Plan in advance, make the time, and keep driving west…Wisp is worth it.
Signature Trail: Eye Opener
Lifts We don’t consider a ski area’s tubing-only lifts as part of the total. Signature Trail Is mostly subjective. Whether it’s history, reputation, the view, or degree of difficulty…it’s the run you have to do, even if it isn’t necessarily the best the resort has to offer.
Finally, a note about ski area statistics: Although it’s hard to believe, some ski areas are (gasp!) less than truthful with their numbers. Like the guy who lies about his, uh, shoe size, some ski areas believe that inflated numbers make their resort sound more appealling. When these numbers are obviously questionable, we put a note: (?!) and will attempt to verify the legitimacy of the claim.
Lift Tickets at Discount: This is a “clearinghouse” of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia. If you haven’t used this service, it is important to knowfor certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long…so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets. I’ve used this service many times, but again, ONLY when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I’ve knocked a third off the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it’s well worth checking if you’ve got a date nailed down. Note that sometimes they offer deals in which you can pay a slightly higher fee that gives you the option to change dates.