I agree with what you said about Snowshoe. Its no-big-deal skiing, but it does seem to attract a disproportionate number of undergrads that want to party during school breaks. Somebody else pointed out that it is so difficult to get there from DC that you could practically be in SLC in the same length of time.
FWIW, I consider 7spr to be a complete zoo - sort of like trying to ski in Tokyo subway crowds. Its just way too near Pittsburgh. In addition, if I recall the numbers correctly, it's 1000 feet lower than Canaan V (2000' vs 3000' base altitude - *very* impt in the mid-Atlantic) and has less noticeably less vert (something like 650' vs 1100'). Seven Springs also has its share of partying, but to me, it has more of a city party feel than a ski-hill party feel.
From what you said, you should have a fine time in the Canaan V area. It is easier to get to than Snowshoe, but is still tucked somewhat out-of-the-way, so it doesn't see as much skier traffic as other mid-Atlantic areas. It tends to be a bit more of a sleepy / family / jeans & gaitors area with an old-time skiing feeling than places like Snowshoe or 7 Springs.
In the Canaan Valley, there are 2 Alpine areas (Timberline and Canaan), 2 formal Nordic areas (Whitegrass and Blackwater), hundreds of miles of spectacular backcountry Nordic opportunities, and two full service WVa state parks (Canaan V and Blackwater Falls), all within a few miles of each other. Its a great place for a diverse group. I've even seen birdwatchers go out looking for the wintering bird population, others go ice skating, etc. while the rest of us were skiing.
The two alpine areas will certainly entertain you for a couple of days. Try both.
On both mtns, there are decent single blacks from the top right under the main lifts, but these usually catch the bulk of the I-need-to-prove-myself-on-a-black traffic. I've usually found that a better choice is to find a black or upper-level blue that they have left ungroomed. Its amazing - no one EVER goes on them. Usually, these just have a cut-up surface or have pleasant moguls, and don't form ugly, tiny, icy irregular bumps. If you can blast thru crud, you'll probably be the only person on these trails all afternoon.
As you may suspect from what I've said, there are a lot of fair-weather skiers on these mtns. During a big blow last season (12-18"), it was the best skiing out there in years. In spite of this, there was a huge crowd in the Canaan base lodge complaining about "too much snow" and there were many empty chairs were going up the hill!
Most people rent condos / cabins, but staying in the motel/lodge at either state park is a very reasonable and inexpensive option. There is a regular shuttle bus from CV S.P. that will take you to both alpine areas, and the some of the best food in the valley is served at the Canaan V lodge restaurant. BTW, CV S.P. is right across the street from Timberline and Canaan V alpine areas, whereas Blackwater Falls S.P. is about 10 miles away.
Gotta run. If you have any more specific questions, feel free.
BTW, there are useful separate web sites for the Canaan, Timberline and Whitegrass areas, as well as for the Canaan V State Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, Canaan Reality, etc. etc. I switched browsers so I don't have these bookmarked right now, but you should have no problem finding them.
Hope this helps.
Tom / PM
PS - Since you are in this area, you probably should pick up a very useful book titled, "Mid-Atlantic Winter Sports Guide" by John Phillips. Its a few years old now, but not much has changed, so its still quite accurate.
PS#2 - What are you studying in grad school?
<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 07, 2001 10:28 AM: Message edited 1 time, by PhysicsMan ]</font>