Nothing beats an old-fashioned sled ride, and one of the nation's largest sledding parks has re-opened for the season in West Virginia, a two-hour drive from the Washington Beltway.
As old-school as the pastime may be, the park is attracting guests in record numbers, and officials are employing new technology to keep the operation running smoothly—including the addition of online advance tickets, unveiled this week.
Brian Sarfino, marketing director for the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the park is now one of the region's outstanding winter attractions.
"There's nothing like a ride on a sled," says Sarfino, who's enthusiastic about the integration of the park with other winter venues, including ski resorts as well as shops, galleries, restaurants, and breweries.
"It's an ideal family vacation destination," he says, "all the more so thanks to sledding, which is perfect for families and doesn't require that children possess any training."
Matt Baker, superintendent at Blackwater Falls State Park, where the run is located, says the new online ticket program should help visitors avoid sell-outs, which have been a problem in recent years as a result of the run's growing popularity.
“Our sled run is a very popular winter attraction, and sessions often sell out,” Baker said. "We recommend people reserve their tickets soon."
The quarter-mile sled run, the longest in the eastern U.S., is equipped with lighting for nighttime sledding and has a magic-carpet conveyor that tows riders and their sleds back to the top of the hill.
A favorite hangout, a warming hut at the base of the run provides hot chocolate and snacks when sledders need to take a break, Baker says.
Tickets are now available to purchase online at WVStateParks.com for the winter season, beginning Dec. 20, and the ticket price includes a sled rental.
Guests looking for a cozy mountain getaway can book using the Stay-and-Play Package to receive 10 percent off their entire stay when they book a sledding session with a lodge or cabin stay.
Cross-country skis and snowshoes also are available for rent at the sled run, Baker says.
The sled run is set to open Dec. 20 2019 and remain open through March 1, weather permitting.
Throughout the season, guests may reserve sled run passes Thursday through Sunday, with additional holiday availability on Monday, Jan. 20 and Monday, Feb. 17.
Sled-run sessions are two hours long, with an hour in between each guest session. Session times are 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. on weekdays. An additional 7 p.m. session is available on Fridays and Saturdays.
To book your sled run session and learn more about other state park activities, visit WVStateParks.com. For more information on Tucker County and its ski areas and winter destinations, visit CanaanValley.org.