The Ski Resorts of VermontVermont – the Green Mountain State – is home to the best skiing on the East Coast. Vermont’s unique topography means that its ski resorts generally have the advantage of bigger vertical drops, larger acreage and deeper snowfall than resorts in surrounding states.
Many resorts offer over 2,000 ft. of vertical and 250″+ of snow each winter. In a state as well known for its maple syrup as its snow, it is clear that Vermont has much more to offer than just great skiing. The Austrians call it Gemütlichkeit – that imperceptibly warm, cozy feeling that slowly wells up from within. Although Vermonters don’t have a word for it (though native son and poet Robert Frost certainly had a few), a trip to the Green Mountains will certainly show you the rustic charm Vermont has to offer. From blazing fireplaces in white clapboard country inns to romantic sleigh rides to the deafening silence of snow falling on a still winter’s forest, Vermont remains now as it always has been – unavoidably charming.
The closest major ski resort to Burlington, Bolton Valley also offers night skiing. The resort has one of the highest base elevations in the East and is located at the end of a beautiful box canyon, highlighted by Bolton Valley’s iconic wind turbine
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Long known as the “Beast of East,” Killington is the biggest ski area in the Northeastern United States. The resort is actually comprised of two resorts, Killington and Pico, with plans to interconnect the two. Between the two resorts, “The Big K” offers over 3,000 ft. of vertical drop, 200 trails and 32 lifts, including two gondolas. The resort’s massive size (at least by Northeastern standards) means that it will take most skiers at least a week to explore the resort border to border. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of weeks to choose from since Killington offers the longest ski season in the East – often from October through May. Experts will love some of Killington’s notorious steep runs such as Outer Limits (the steepest mogul run in the East), Devil’s Fiddle (one of the only trails in the East with cliffs), and Superstar (open until May). Notably, Killington does not have a base village – the dining and nightlife is located along the access road, which has over 100 restaurants and bars.
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Jay Peak is the powder capital of the East. Mother Nature sees fit to bless Jay with over 300 inches of powder per winter. That’s more than many Colorado resorts! Jay is also know for its outstanding expert terrain and tree-skiing. A new base village makes Jay an increasingly attractive alternative.
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“Ski It If You Can.” The resort’s motto says it all. Mad River Glen hasn’t changed much in fifty years. Be sure to ride the single chair, one of only a handful left in the world. Ungroomed, hardcore skiing beckons the best expert skiers in the Northeast, but beginner and intermediate skiers have plenty of options as well. Catch it on a good day and it’s hard to beat Mad River Glen.
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Located in the shadow of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, Smugglers Notch has enthusiastically sought the family market with great success, providing excellent New England skiing for everyone, from toddlers to octogenarians. The purpose-built village, with its ski-in, ski-out accommodations and an average of 286 inches (726 cm) of snow per year with 60 percent snowmaking coverage make Smuggs one of the most appealing destinations in the East. The most obvious drawback (other than, for some, an excess of children) is the antiquated lift system, consisting mainly of slow double chairs that give you ample time to reflect on your busy lifestyle or read that unabridged copy of War and Peace you snuck into your parka.
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Stowe is a storied, classic and timeless American ski resort. Founded in the days when trains brought skiers to the slopes and ski resorts were the playgrounds of the rich and famous, Stowe has a special place in New England ski history. From the charming New England village to the challenging trails carved into the face of Mt. Mansfield, the skiing at Stowe is in the East Coast’s top league. It has the longest average trail length and the most challenging fall line in New England to cater for advanced, intermediate and beginner skiers alike. Most of Stowe’s ski lifts run from bottom to top of the mountain, so that you ski the full 2,300 ft. vertical drop on most runs. The new Stowe Mountain Lodge and Spruce Peak village are exquisite, by far the most luxurious slopeside accommodations in the Northeast. If you’re looking for some good skiing and the charm of wooden clapboard buildings surrounded by snowy forest, Stowe is a must visit.
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If you listen to their marketing folks, Sugarbush is “pure Vermont.” We couldn’t help but agree. Nestled in the stunning Mad River Valley, Sugarbush is New England skiing at its finest. With two interconnected mountains serving up over 2,600 ft. of steeps, trees, and groomers, Sugarbush is home to some of the finest skiing in the East. No expert skier should miss skiing legendary Castlerock Peak. The new 4-staR Clay Brook slopeside hotel and burgeoning base village have transformed the once sleepy ski area into a true destination ski resort, every bit the rival of any of the East Coast’s finest ski resorts.
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Those looking for a simpler skiing experience that is quintessentially Vermont might consider Suicide Six. Located adjacent to the Woodstock Inn, one of America’s great old hotels, Suicide Six is a small ski resort, but so cozy that it’ll have you coming back again and again.
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Other Vermont Ski Resorts:
Those in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont rave about Burke. Difficult to get to for many, Burke is worth the trip. The mountain’s excellent terrain and its uncrowded slopes and lifts make it worth the longer drive.
Bromley is known primarily as a great family mountain. Its warm, sunny southern-facing exposure makes it popular on cold days, though limits its snowfall in comparison to other Vermont resorts.
Magic has had its share of struggles attracting custumers in the last ten years, but its terrain is not the problem. A hidden gem, Magic is natural skiing at its finest. Hotshots, be sure to check out the best collection of expert terrain in southern Vermont.
A longtime favorite amongst those in the New York metropolitan area, Mount Snow is less than three hours away from a large percentage of the population of the Northeastern United States. Skiing is spread over several faces and a modern lift infrastructure guarantees short lift lines even on the busiest of days.
Okemo’s new Jackson Gore development has transformed a small, mainly intermediate mountain into one of the Northeast’s top vacation destinations.
Stratton offers southern Vermont’s highest vertical drop and has a small base village with shops, restaurants and hotels. Experts might be a bit bored and prices are high, but Stratton’s close proximity to New York City ensures its popularity.
Getting to Vermont
Most Vermont resorts are approximately 200-250 miles north of New York and about 100-150 miles northwest of Boston. Drive time from New York City to most resorts is roughly 3½-5 hours. From Boston, expect 3-4 hours.
Flying into Vermont’s Burlington International Airport is extremely convenient. The airport is served by Continental, Delta, JetBlue, Northwest, United and US Airways. It’s just a 45 minute drive to Sugarbush. Stowe, Smuggler’s Notch, Mad River Glen and Burke. Most other resorts in northern and central Vermont are within an hour and a half. Taxis, group transfers and car rentals are all available at the airport.
Albany International Airport (roughly 1½ hours from Killington and Okemo and less than an hour from Stratton, Mount Snow and Stratton) is a convenient option for accessing southern Vermont.
Amtrak offers direct train service from Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City on the Ethan Allen and Vermonter.