Eastern skiing may lack the longer runs, continuous powder or higher altitudes of the west coast, but the state of Vermont makes up for it with up to 25 feet of snow during its long winters as well as varied terrain for all kinds of winter sports enthusiasts.
Known for the birth of the ski tow in 1934, this New England gem can also lay claim to the largest number of Olympians per capita in the US. In fact, 16 of the 244 athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics hailed from Vermont.
Luckily, the resorts hosting these magnificent slopes are ready and waiting for skiers, snowboarders and snow aficionados of all ages and skill levels. But before you strap on your equipment, check out this list of the best areas to visit this winter in Vermont.
Sugarbush Resort, Warren
Located squarely in the middle of the state, this iconic resort offers 111 trails sprawling over 4000 acres. Spread across Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen, yet separated by Slide Brook Basin, it has a vertical drop of 2600ft, and you can easily move between the two mountains using the chairlift and shuttle bus. With 600 skiable areas, including nearly 3000 acres of cross-country terrain, there is an immense variety of slopes to conquer – though beginners will appreciate the Ski & Ride School at Lincoln Peak Village.
STAY: The Claybrook Hotel & Residence is our slope-side pick and includes in-room hot tubs, a heated, year-round outdoor pool and a game room to keep the kiddies occupied. You can reserve anything from a studio to a five-bedroom residence – so it’s perfect for a romantic getaway or a family holiday.
Bolton Valley Resort, Richmond
Perched in the Green Mountains and just 30 minutes from the Burlington airport, this sweet, family-owned resort gives you access to 71 downhill trails for skiing and about 62 miles of Nordic and backcountry trails. Though it’s officially a valley, the alpine village sits atop the mountain overlooking 5000 acres and uses wind power and energy-efficient snowmaking to reduce its diesel and electric power consumption. It also enjoys a vertical drop of 3150ft. Families will love its affordability and the kid-friendly indoor skate-and-bike park. Interested in staying after dark? Bolton Valley offers night skiing until 10pm from Tuesday to Saturday nights.
STAY: Basic and affordable, the Inn at Bolton Valley is a ski-in-ski-out slopeside resort with a mix of 60 rooms, suites and condos. Guests receive access to the Bolton Valley Sports Center and can enjoy the pool, hot tub, sauna and gym, as well as a nest of bouncy houses, game room with basketball, ping pong and pool table for the family.
Jap Peak Resort, Jay
Head north, just a few miles south of the Canadian border, and you’ll find this winter wonderland in the Green Mountains – boasting the highest average snowfall in Vermont and more powder than most east coasters know what to do with. The vertical drop of 2153ft allows for 81 Alpine trails, including just over 60 for advanced and intermediate skiers. But beginners should not despair, there’s plenty of green trails, a Kids Program for ages 4 to 12 years and an Adaptive Program for people with disabilities starting at age 3. A massive indoor waterpark and activity center boasts an ice skating rink, movie theater, climbing gym and arcade – free with on-site lodging, though you’ll need to purchase tickets in advance if you’re just coming for the day.
STAY: The Tram Haus Lodge is a charming, suite-only resort offering just under 60 rooms, with units up to three bedrooms. Just a hop, skip and jump from the slopes, it oozes homegrown flavor and is decorated with locally crafted, recycled and re-imagined materials, like handmade maple hardware and reclaimed barn wood furniture. You can choose from slope side or ski-in-ski-out accommodations as well as a coffee shop and full-service spa.
Pico Mountain, Mendon
Located inside the massive Killington resort, this single-base, easy-to-navigate resort is super family friendly and perfect for those on a budget. A vertical drop of 1967ft, 19 miles of terrain and seven lifts lead to a total of 57 manageable trails. And though there is an impressive 25 intermediate trails, you can also find classic New England steeps or stick with the gentler, winding beginner trails. Four thousand feet of new snowmaking pipe has been added this season, so making the white stuff won’t be a problem. Youth programs and lesson start at age four and go to 14 years old, and kids ski free with the purchase of an adult season pass.
STAY: Pico Resort Hotel and Condominiums offers up to three-bedroom accommodations and is walking distance to Pico. Great for groups, the three-bedroom units can sleep up to 10 with a loft and sofabed, and fireplaces are included in most units. Guests can also access the Pico Fitness Center, featuring an indoor pool and gym, and a free shuttle will take you the five miles down the road to any of Killington’s six mountains.
Suicide Six, Pomfret
This resort is not only the oldest ski resort in America, it is also home to the first “ski lift,” an improvised rope tow built on Hill No. 6 and powered by a Ford Model T. Now, this quaint and accessible area contains an array of terrain and levels of difficulty. Snowboarders will be thrilled to hit the same slopes that hosted the first National Snow Snurfing competition in 1982, and Alpine skiers will appreciate the 650ft vertical drop, three lifts and 24 different trails, broken down almost evenly between expert, intermediate and beginner. You can also rent fat bikes, try your hand at snowshoeing or strap on a set of cross-country skis.
STAY: The Woodstock Inn & Resort is a classic, New England ski resort set in a quaint, unspoiled town – while allowing easy access to the slopes of Suicide Six. After a day in the snow, you can take a stroll on Main Street or hit the 10,000 sq ft spa for a little peace and pampering. The Woodstock Athletic Club is also included in your stay and hosts a variety of activities, like racquetball, yoga, an indoor pool and a gym. A Family First-Run package includes a family group lesson and a s’mores kit for apres ski.
Magic Mountain, Londonderry
Perched on Glebe Mountain, this ski-forward resort is reminiscent of the Swiss Alps, with twisting, narrow trails which were carved out in the 1960s and are still viable today. Out of the 50 trails, 17 of them are expert, and with a vertical drop of 1500ft, you’ll have access to true rugged, vertical skiing – and a handful of double black diamonds. With a premium on adventure and appreciating the natural beauty of your surroundings, this resort is both laid-back and affordable – and even touts special openings during mid-week snowstorms to access the best natural powder. Want to take some time off skis? Race your pals downhill a totally different way at Tubeyland tube park.
STAY: The Upper Pass Lodge is rustic, pet friendly and located at the base of Magic Mountain for an easy commute. A homey resort with personalized service, it consists of just 20 rooms, some of which offer bunkbeds or two bedrooms for families and groups – and one of which comes with an en-suite jacuzzi. Keeping with the local theme, the lodge’s bar features cocktails poured exclusively with Vermont-made spirits.