||This article appears to be written like an advertisement. (August 2013)|
The Peak of Eagle's Swoop
|Location||Wintergreen, Nelson County, Virginia, USA|
|Nearest city||Nellysford, Charlottesville, Waynesboro|
|Top elevation||3,515 feet|
|Longest run||1.4 miles|
|Lift system||5 chairlifts|
Wintergreen Resort is a four-season mountain retreat on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a "Mountain Top" resort in which all of the amenities are built on the peaks and ridges, rather than at the base like a traditional ski resort.
Wintergreen offers 45 holes of championship golf; seasonal skiing, snowboarding and The Plunge snowtubing is a 900 foot snow tubing hill which consists of 12 lanes; a Terrain Park with jibs and rails; an award-winning tennis program; a full-service, destination spa; 40,000 square feet (4,000 m2) of meeting and event space; lodging; and a variety of dining options. The resort rises from approximately 600 feet above sea level in the valley at Stoney Creek to an elevation of close to 4,000 feet on the mountain, and hosts 300 villa-style condominiums and rental homes, from studio suites to seven-bedroom homes.
Due to its elevation, the resort has a very seasonal climate, with mountain cool temperatures and low humidity in spring and summer. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 82 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder temperatures in winter, combined with the mountain elevation, allow for various winter sports December through March.
During the winter, there are 32 trails available for skiing and snowboarding, 14 of the trails are available for night skiing/snowboarding. There are 5 chair lifts; 2 High Speed 6-person lifts, one quad lift, one triple and one double. The resort has 100% snow making capability .
There are three main areas to ski, and the three pertain to the three main difficulties that Wintergreen offers. The Highlands (black and double black diamonds), A-Side (A standing for acorn, which has two blue squares and two black diamonds), and Dobie side (beginner). On A-side, if you go on "Acorn Lift", you may see young ski racers doing a course. "Big Acorn" is one of the two black diamonds on this side of Wintergreen, and Sunrise is the other. On Dobie's side, there are three lifts. If you go right on the main lift, you will go down "Diamond Hill", there are freestyle jumps and rails here. If you go right, there will be "Dobie". This the perfect slope for warming up in the morning, or learning how to ski or snowboard. If you ski past Checkerberry (a small snack place to stop and relax after a few runs, right next to Blue Ridge Express lift), and go down the path to the right, you have arrived at the "Highlands". All slopes beyond this point are black and double black diamond, so please only attempt if you are a skilled skier or snowboarder. Go straight across (after looking uphill, as there will be skiers and snowboarders coming down) to go to "Lower Turkey". Once you go up "Highlands Lift", take a left to go down "Wild Turkey" and this will take you straight down Turkey, through Lower Turkey as well. If you do not want to go down Turkey, go down the hill (there will be a path) under the lift to go to a double black diamond slope called "Cliffhanger". Once you get down Cliffhanger, you will ski down to Checkerberry. Once here, you can turn right to go back to Dobie, go straight to "Lower-Cliffhanger", or go right down to "Devil's Elbow". As confusing as this may sound, it's almost impossible to get lost at Wintergreen. If you don't know how to get back, the Wintergreen staff will be more than happy to tell you how to get back.
In 1969, a 10,000-acre (40 km²) tract of land known as The Big Survey, located in the heart of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and home to a wide variety of forestry, timberland, and wildlife, was purchased by a group of investors. Within a few years, Cabot, Cabot & Forbes of Boston purchased The Big Survey, and the planning of Wintergreen began. The Sea Pines Company soon joined the group to plan and market the area and a new community.
By 1975, the grounds sported a large ski area, consisting of eight slopes and three chairlifts, which opened with much fanfare and Virginia Governor Mills E. Godwin in attendance. The resort's first restaurant, The Copper Mine, was open to the public only during the winter months. The original welcoming center, the Wintergreen County Store, was later added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. The ski runs added in later years are three cleared areas in the Highlands, and one next to Big Acorn. Seen from aerial maps, the original eight runs have been joined by five additional runs, but the resort counts each connecting catwalk with an individual name, and names many runs "upper" and "lower" versions. There are by no means 32 ski runs in the sense most skiers think of trails.
The following year, however, Melba Investors, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Bankers Trust Co. of New York acquired Wintergreen from Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, and Lewis F. Payne, Jr. founded Wintergreen Development, Inc. to operate the resort and serve as the developer and managing agent.
Within a year, the resort could beckon summer vacationers and residents with the completion of the new Ellis Maples-designed Devils Knob golf course (June 1977) and the opening of the mountain tennis center (June 1978). In January 1978, Wintergreen hosted its first Winter Special Olympics. There was also an ongoing plant transplantation project, which began to save native plant species, and use them in the resort's landscaping.
It wasn't long before the Mountain Inn and Conference Center was completed (December 1980), allowing the resort, now owned and managed by Wintergreen Partners, Inc. (WPI), to host conferences and meetings, expand its target markets, and begin the trend of becoming a year-round vacation destination
Most of the resort and surrounding mountaintop attractions range from 2500 to 4000 feet in elevation and therefore average considerably cooler than the nearby valley towns such as Staunton, Charlottesville, and Lynchburg. Temperatures on average fall about 4 °F for every thousand feet of elevation making Wintergreen's summit typically 10-15 degrees colder than the valley towns. This allows for ample winter snowmaking and increased natural snowfall. However, due to its location well east of the highest ridge of the Appalachians, it receives only about 35 inches a year of natural snow versus some 175 inches in prime spots 100 miles (161 km) to the west. However, Wintergreen is much closer and more convenient to the major population centers on the east coast, such as Washington D.C. and Richmond, VA.
With one golf course nearly 4000 feet above sea level and another 42 holes (Stoney Creek) at over 900 feet, golfers can choose their weather for playing. The Devil's Knob course typically is in the cool low 80s when Charlottesville is pushing 100 in the hot summer months. In winter, skiers can be enjoying excellent snow with temperatures in the 30's while at the same time, golfers at Stoney Creek are only slightly chilled with temperatures in the 50s.