Big Boulder Park can have eyeballs bulging with its stunning summit view overlooking Big Boulder Lake and a pristine countryside of lakeside cottages and evergreen forest. The mountain has been transformed into a snowboarder and freestyle skier playground and has expanded on its pioneering reputation as the place where commercial snowmaking in Pennsylvania was born. Here’s what you’ll find. – Jay Lloyd
WHAT YOU’LL FIND:
BIG BOULDER PARK
One South Lake Drive
Lake Harmony, PA 18624
Back in the 1950’s, when skiing in Pennsylvania was dependent on a very fickle Mother Nature, a guy named John Guresh began pushing water through what looked to be a lawn sprinkler to create the first commercial snowmaking machine on a Big Boulder slope. The mountain eventually became a “snow farm” and opened the Poconos as a “Banana Belt” skiing Mecca.
More recently Big Boulder went all in for snowboarders and skiers who get their kicks in the air, sometimes inverted. It has become a mountain, totally studded with versatile terrain parks. Seven parks have been carved on trails that vary in challenge from gentle and forgiving to nosedive. An incredible amount of creativity went into the placement and design of the boxes, rails, tables and jumps that guide the action to an amped up sound system that rocks the ridge.
There’s still plenty of room for traditional skiing on eight additional slopes that span comfort levels from the black diamond “Mittle-Weg,” where you get that dramatic lake vista, to the easy to cruise “Bunny Schuss.” The entire complex is powered by eight lifts to keep the uphill traffic flowing. And nestled alongside the Main Lodge is the Big Boulder tubing park with its own lifts.
The ski school here is naturally seeded with young snowboard instructors, all professionally certified and the rental shop is heavy on the latest in boards and boots; skis too. The entire mountain is lighted for night skiing and riding.
In the lodge, a main cafeteria serves up the burgers and steaks, the staple diet for a rider on the run. If you really want fast, two outdoor grills at the main lodge and the Boulder Park Lodge serve burgers, hot off the coals at the base of the slopes. Ski up and munch off. Two bars in the main lodge quench the thirst, both with slope action views. The popular T-Bar is the spot for weekend entertainment.
WHAT IT COSTS:
Adult Snow Pass: $50 Weekend; $44 Weekdays; $52 Holidays
Youth/Senior: $40 Weekend; $33 Weekdays; $42 Holidays
Night: $32 Weekend; $28 Weekdays; $34 Holidays
Over 70: Free
Rentals: $32 Adult; $28 Youth
Lessons: $28 Group; $75 Private
Big Boulder also offers a “Discovery Package that includes a snow pass, group lesson and rental equipment for $85 on weekends, $87 on holidays and $75 midweek. Big Boulder lift tickets can also be used at nearby Jack Frost Mountain.
Check all the rates at: www.jfbb.com.
WHERE TO STAY:
Since a visit to Boulder has always included kids, ours and those of friends, we hunker down in a comfy nearby condo at Blue Heron Village on the Big Boulder Property. All of mountain themed homes offer fully equipped kitchens, 2 or 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a living room with fireplace and pull out sofa, a dining area and equipment storage locker. Two bedroom homes, ideal for a family rent for about $800 on weekends. A 3 bedroom home for two families will run about $1,000 on weekends.
WHERE TO EAT:
Just beyond the mountain on the lakefront, and with a view of the slopes, you’ll find the welcoming Boulder View Tavern. Parents whose teens and tweens would rather ski and ride under the lights than dine with the folks find this a perfect stop for a relaxing drink, a tempting dinner and a bit of weekend entertainment. And they’re seconds away from the mountain, just in case of a cell phone summons from the snow surfing offspring. You’ll find all the standard pub fare plus touches of Italian and Latin flavors and a commendable Weiner Schnitzel, a ski environment favorite.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Philadelphia, pick up the northeast extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Get off at the Pocono exit and follow the signs to I-80. Take I-80 East to PA Exit 284. Take Route 115 South, then turn right onto Route 903 South and follow the signs to Big Boulder.
Tip for skiing Big Boulder: Since lift tickets are interchangeable with sister area Jack Frost, it’s fun to ski Frost in the morning, have lunch at one of the eateries around Lake Harmony and then finish the day and night on the snow at Boulder.