By CYNTHIA McCLOUD ∙ For The State Journal
DAVIS — For each of the past 25 years, Tom Blanzy has watched Timberline Four Seasons Resort in Davis get bigger and better.
Blanzy has been the resort general manager since 1987. He's been there almost as long as Timberline's current owners — Frederick Reichle, his sister Rose Marie Herz and her son, Fred Herz — who bought the 450-acre Timberline in 1985. Land developer David Downs was the original owner. Timberline is perhaps the last family-owned resort of its kind east of the Mississippi.
"When the current owners bought it, they built most of what is currently here," Blanzy said. "There was a ski area here before, and it had some trails. But there was no lift at the top of mountain. A T-bar went halfway up the mountain, and they had very little or no snowmaking capability."
The partnership between Reichle and the Herzes built a triple chair lift at the top of the mountain, bought 17 new snow guns and added more trails.
"Every year we added more snowmaking capability, and we continue to add more snow guns every year," Blanzy said. "And a few years later we added a couple of more lifts. We currently have three lifts and one handle tow plus a service lift.
"The last trail expansion was four to five years ago from the top of the mountain. Last summer we gladed out some areas," Blanzy said, explaining that glading means thinning trees so cross-country skiers can run on the snow that drifts into the woods.
Skiers visit Timberline about 100,000 times a winter, when the resort gets most of its visitors, Blanzy said. But year-round, 50,000 individuals come to Timberline.
Accommodations have grown too. The lodge has undergone four additions, he said. The current owners first developed the North Face subdivision with 75 lots and then developed the Winterset subdivision.
After ski season, things pick up at the four-season resort about Memorial Day and the date school lets out for summer vacation.
"Then it's a whole different atmosphere, climate-wise, in terms of what people enjoy doing because we're surrounded by wilderness," Blanzy said. "They come here because of a more outdoor experience. We have horseback riding, mountain biking, camping and fishing."
Bicycling enthusiasts can start in the Tucker County town of Thomas and enjoy a 14-mile downhill coast through the Blackwater Canyon. For more adventurous souls, Timberline offers Extreme Mountain Biking. In that, mountain bikers wear body armor, haul their bikes on the chair lift to the top of the mountain, then plunge down steep vertical drops.
The resort rents bikes, fishing gear and other equipment. There's one horse stable on the property. Golf and rock climbing opportunities are short drives from the resort.
The resort also boasts an active nightlife.
"There is always some little event going on someplace," Blanzy said.
The resort's restaurant, the Fireside Grill, is open seven days a week and features live entertainment on weekends. Also on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays, Timberline offers scenic chairlift rides.
"What people really like to do is they'll take the chairlift up on top and maybe take a short hike back through the woods," he said. "There's a spruce forest up on top of the mountain, and it's just beautiful. There are moss-covered rocks and roots and a little path. You expect to see a gnome around every turn on the beautiful little trails back through there.
"Some of the more adventurous people like to go back into the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area," Blanzy said. "That's extraordinarily beautiful. It's the most visited wilderness area in the state.
"It's got everything in it from open plains to tundra-type areas to deep forests. It's a great place."