Canaan Valley Resort Turns 50, Charts Path To Tourism Expansion
The Canaan Valley Resort has been a mainstay for skiers and tourists across the region. Now, the Tucker County, West Virginia, resort is celebrating its 50-year anniversary with a number of important renovations.
Canaan Valley is notable for being the first commercial ski development south of the Mason-Dixon line. Resort general manager Sam England credits the resort’s development with helping to diversify the state’s economy as a tourism boon.
“It was during a time when unemployment was high. Coal mines had been impacted by mechanization,” said England. “At that point, leaders in the state and political leadership saw the need to find other ways of employing people.”
The resort, which employs around 250 workers, is investing $1.4 million into these improvements. They include the expansion of its tube park, rental facility, and ski lodge. The resort is also introducing a new lift pass system that will reduce time in line and replace paper tickets with plastic passes.
Traditionally, Canaan Valley has attracted tourists from Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, and Columbus, Ohio, though England says the number of overall visitors has decreased over the past few decades because of more opportunities and destinations in the region. However, ski patrol and snow sports director Rod Jones says parks like Canaan have seen an uptick in visitors since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID drove people outside to outside activities. And the whole valley saw a resurgence in visitors, you know, from Red Creek, from the Red Creek hiking area, to Dolly Sods up to Blackwater Falls, and then, of course, Canaan Valley,” said Jones. “It’s really refreshing to see how many people are coming to the valley now – Canaan Valley has really been rediscovered, if you will.”
One-hundred percent of the resort’s profits are reinvested to maintain and improve Canaan Valley Resort State Park. England says state parks are an economic buffer for tourism, and create a built-in tourist base for other outdoor recreational facilities.
Renovations for this year’s ski season were completed Dec. 18.