Live and lively – sprawling – scenic – knee jarring – dramatic. One Pennsylvania ski and snowboard mountain rates all the raves. Camelback Mountain near Tannersville can have you cruising in languid, lazy turns for over a mile or taking a nosedive plunge on a bounty of bumps. That’s what you call “versatility.” So, how do you navigate this collection of 35 slopes, trails and terrain parks? Join me for the tour. – Jay Lloyd
Regular visitors to Camelback Mountain this season will see the dawn of a new era following more than half-century of skiing on a scenic overlook at Big Pocono State Park. A brand new hotel is rising at the base, due to open before the last flake of winter feeds the nearby stream. The hotel will include a water park, restaurants and ski-in, ski-out features. As the future here takes shape, the mountain and its solid collection of eateries and sipping stations, ski school and rental shops, remains one of the liveliest in the state.
Vertical Drop: 800 feet
Slopes and Trails: 35 (including terrain parks)
Terrain Parks: 5
Lifts: 16 (including 2 tubing)
Tubing: 42 chute, 2 carpet lifts
Night Lights: 100%
THE TRAIL AND SLOPES
Camelback is a popular mountain. That means busy weekends. Midweek sliding is sheer pleasure, but if you want to join the weekend crowd, here’s my game plan: Take a lift-free run down the Sunbowl beginner slope and work your way east to the Sullivan Express Quad. Be at the lift when it cranks up at 8:30. Most skiers head to the first lifts they see, which access the western mountain trails. Traffic on the eastern side will be almost non-existent, and you’ll enjoy two hours of wide-open slopes before the late morning arrivals begin their eastward migration. By linking trails, it’s possible to carve over two miles of skiing into a single run. Two of the longest and most dynamic trails here are the cruiser’s Utopia, Nile Mile, and the challenging steep headwalls of double black-diamond, Cliffhanger. Surfers will head just east of center to ride the features of five terrain parks that are geared to progressively advancing snowboard skills. Head back to the main lodge or work your way to the Summit Lodge for a break by 11. Then play on the west side slopes until lunch.
WHAT IT COSTS
Adult Open to Close Ticket: $65 weekends, $53 midweek
Junior/Senior Open to Close Ticket: $47 weekends, 40 midweek
Seniors over 70 ski free midweek, and there are online purchase discounts.
Check all ticket rates here.
Camelback Mountain is among the pioneers in children’s learning programs. Camelback Ski School was one of the first in Pennsylvania to launch a half-day lesson program for kids that includes equipment and lift tickets. Adult and children’s group and private lessons offer professional instruction on terrain to match advancing skill levels, from first timers to advanced skiers, who want to bump up in the bumps. Camelback also has an active racer and free-style development program.
Half-day children’s class: $129 weekend, $110 midweek
Children and Adult Group Lesson: $35
Children and Adult Private Lesson: $90
Catch all the ski school options here.
The Camelback rental shop features name brand Salomon skis and Burton snowboards at $39 for open to close rentals. High performance gear is available for $49. All rental options can be found here.
EATS AND SIPS
Camelback features an avalanche of noshing and dining options. The Glen Lodge, which is open only on weekends, is a favorite with its smokehouse menu and active environment. The Thirsty Camel is the place to be for a view of the slopes, weekend entertainment, well prepared pub grub and a dynamic bar scene. For a view from the top, head for Cameltop Lodge. Perched at the peak, it offers stunning views of skiers on a pair of super steep runs just below. For the eat-and-run crowd, a pair of cafeterias at the main lodge offer fast service with linger-awhile food ranging from burgers to great soups and stews. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available from 7:30 in the morn until closing.
For families, the Northridge homes just above the slopes are fully furnished condo accommodations complete with fireplaces and dishwashers. I’ve stayed there at least a dozen weekends and found them meticulously maintained.
The Chateau, located near the mountain entrance, is the spot for those who enjoy resort services, a lively night scene, a pool and hot tub with views of the slopes and an American kitchen with international tones. Weekends draw a heavy ski club and social group crowd. Midweek, the Chateau is in more of a fireside-chat mode.
From Philadelphia: Take I-476 North to Lehigh Valley Exit 56, then Route 22 East to the first exit (309 South). 309 South becomes I-78 East; proceed on I-78 East to Route 33 North to I-80 West, get off at Exit 299 Tannersville and follow the signs to Camelback.
Tip: It’s a longer distance, but I just stay on the Northeast Extension to the Pocono exit. Then take I-80 east to Tannersville and follow the signs to the mountain.