Vermont’s Green Mountains are home to some of the best ski resorts in the Northeast. This tiny state sees an average of 80 to 100 inches of snow each year, with more falling in mountainous regions. Unsurprisingly, this means people from New York City, Boston and other major East Coast cities look forward to frequenting these slopes. Meanwhile, the state’s relaxed, down-to-earth personality sets it apart from more luxury-forward winter vacation destinations out west.
Off the slopes, Vermont features plenty of ways to enjoy the winter season, including cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and even dog-sledding. You can also sample the best the Green Mountain State has to offer at one of Vermont’s craft breweries.
The largest ski resort in the eastern U.S., Killington encompasses seven distinct mountain areas, including the second-highest peak in Vermont. Known as the “Beast of the East” for its lofty vertical drop, this ski destination knows how to lure thrill-seekers. The Canyon area and the Big Dipper offer plenty of challenging runs for more experienced powder hounds. But that doesn’t mean those new to snow sports won’t have fun. The entire Snowshed Lodge area is designed with beginners in mind, and the resort’s ski school will have you feeling confident on your skis or board in no time.
Sugarbush caters to skiers and snowboarders who like to feel as though they have the slopes to themselves. As one of the largest resorts on the East Coast, Sugarbush encompasses around 4,000 acres of skiable terrain across six mountains. It also features three terrain parks perfect for practicing tricks. This massive Vermont ski resort caters to all skill levels, with its 111 marked trails relatively equally divided between beginner, intermediate and expert. The resort also provides top-tier instruction and an adaptive ski program, so everyone can enjoy a day on the mountain.
Considered both luxurious and family-friendly, Stowe Mountain has a lot going for it. The resort occupies the tallest mountain in Vermont, and many have said its snowpack is the best in the North East. What’s more, Stowe is known for its variety, offering everything from well-groomed, beginner-friendly trails to unrefined, high-elevation terrain. Over the past several years, Stowe has invested in renovations to its facilities, including a high-speed peak-to-peak gondola. Add to that the resort’s acclaimed ski school and dining facilities, and you can see why it’s called the “Queen of the East”.
Okemo Mountain offers a nice variety of runs across more than 600 skiable acres to suit all skill levels. This Vermont resort’s ample beginner and intermediate slopes have earned it a family-friendly reputation. Visitors with kids especially love the resort’s ski school. Some skiers lament that Okemo’s slopes are too easy, but more experienced powder hounds will find challenging terrain on the South Face. And while Okemo may not always receive as much snow as other top Vermont ski resorts, this destination’s snow-making and grooming frequently receive high praise.
Snowboarders should jump at the chance to visit Stratton Mountain, as this was the first East Coast resort to permit snowboarding on its slopes. And with nearly 700 skiable acres, this Vermont Resort provides plenty of space to carve powder, no matter how you prefer to do it. Spread across the highest peak in southern Vermont, Stratton Mountain is especially popular with New Yorkers due to its proximity to the Big Apple. But just about anyone who visits will appreciate Stratton Mountain’s finely groomed runs, as well as the ease in which they can get around the resort.
Just 20 minutes from the Canadian border, Jay Peak has an advantage over other Vermont ski destinations when it comes to snowfall, averaging around 350 inches per year. And its slopes, particularly the Headwall chutes, and tree skiing are sure to challenge even practiced powder hounds. The resort has invested a large sum of money in its facilities over the past few years. Now, Jay Peak is stacked with amenities – luxury hotels, ice rinks and even a water park, to name a few. But those solely interested in skiing won’t be disappointed by this resort.
Once overshadowed by its neighbor, Stowe Mountain, Smugglers’ Notch has stepped out into the spotlight in recent years. It has received acclaim from experts and skiers for its primo powder and welcoming atmosphere. Although only around 20% of its runs are designed for beginners, Smugglers’ Notch has earned the nickname “America’s Family Resort” for its kids’ programs and family-friendly activities. The resort also welcomes experienced skiers and snowboarders with rugged expert terrain and the East Coast’s only triple-black-diamond run, Black Hole.
West Dover, VT
Mount Snow is the ideal resort for skiers and snowboarders looking to improve their skills, with more than half of its runs designed for the intermediate level. But that doesn’t mean newbies and pros won’t enjoy themselves here. This resort has earned its moniker, boasting some of the best snowmaking on the East Coast. And regulars are quick to praise Mount Snow’s grooming. Another highlight is Mount Snow’s new Carinthia Base Lodge, which debuted in the 2019-20 season. The lodge features plenty of space to unwind, and enough of dining options to ensure everyone’s tastes are satisfied.
Pico Mountain has come a long way since opening day in 1937, when skiers relied on a 1,200-foot rope tow powered by a Hudson Motor Car engine. For example the resort recently installed thousands of feet of piping, infinitely upping their snowmaking game. This medium-sized ski resort offers a nice alternative to nearby Killington, particularly for more practiced skiers. Nearly 50% of Pico’s 57 trails are designed for the intermediate level, and close to 40% are perfect for pros. Pico Mountain also offers opportunities to snowshoe, and to explore the Green Mountains by snowmobile or horse-drawn sleigh.
Mad River Glen caters to more experienced skiers, as it encompasses some of the most challenging terrain in the region. What’s more, this resort’s relatively uncrowded slopes allow powderhounds to move more freely than at other resorts (regulars particularly love the single-chair lifts). That said, those who still need some help getting their footing can take advantage of Mad River Glen’s renovated ski school facility, and rest their legs at the recently revamped Basebox lodge area. What’s more, Mad River Glen offers access to their slopes for a noticeably lower rate than their competitors.
Bolton Valley, VT
Just 30 minutes from Burlington, Bolton Valley’s 71 trails are fairly evenly divided in terms of skill level, allowing everyone from newbies to experts to enjoy the 300 inches of annual snowfall. But what really sets Bolton Valley apart from other Vermont ski resorts are its epic backcountry trails and its night skiing opportunities. The resort’s expansive backcountry terrain encompasses some of the highest slopes in the Green Mountains, and offers expansive views of Lake Champlain. And with more night skiing than any other Vermont ski destination, you’re guaranteed plenty of time on the slopes.
East Burke, VT
Burke Mountain is certainly not a beginner’s resort. More than 90% of this Vermont ski destination’s 52 runs are designed for intermediate and up. What’s more, Burke Mountain is an official training center for the U.S. Ski Team, meaning you may be sharing the mountain with Olympic-level powder hounds. That said, if you’re looking to improve your slope skills, Burke Mountain’s ski clinics and private instruction are sure to put you on the right path. And everyone, no matter their skiing ability, is sure to appreciate Burke Mountain’s epic views of northeast Vermont’s Willoughby Gap, Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor.
For those seeking a family-centric ski destination, Bromley Mountain makes an excellent choice. All of the resort’s 47 runs lead to one centralized base area, so it’s easy to regroup throughout the day. And with 32% of the trails designated for beginners, kids will feel like a good portion of the resort belongs to them. For those who are unsure of themselves on their skis, Bromley Mountain’s ski school offers private and group lessons. And because Bromley Mountain is the only resort in Vermont with southern exposure, the slopes receive plenty of sunshine. This means parents will hear less complaining about the weather.
Having first opened in the 1930s, the Middlebury College Snow Bowl helped establish Vermont as a ski destination. Although smaller than other Vermont ski areas, with just 17 trails, the Middlebury College Snow Bowl makes a great day-trip option for skiers and boarders of all levels. It also features some of the best wooded terrain in the state. Still operated by Middlebury College, this ski resort serves as a training ground for Olympians. But it exudes a family-friendly feel, as well, with seven of the 17 trails designed for beginners, and a snow school to help build skills and confidence.
Despite its name, Suicide Six has been dubbed by those in the know as one of Vermont’s best ski resorts for families. Thirty percent of the trails are designed for beginners, providing plenty of room to learn and practice. That said, Suicide Six is on the smaller side with 23 marked trails. Families with young kids are likely to find this resort more manageable than the bigger-name Vermont ski resorts. However, more experienced skiers will find that they’ve conquered the mountain in just a day. But couple a day at Suicide Six with a day of pampering at the Woodstock Inn & Resort’s spa, and you’ve got yourself a nice weekend getaway.
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