There's nothing like a trip into the mountains to escape your every day and dive into the magical, snow falling ski life. The best ski resorts in Vermont have picturesque New England settings, good snow from fall to spring and, miles of scenic trails. From well-groomed routes for beginners to screaming Black Diamond runs for schussboomers, this is an area with many choices and plenty of charm.
Americans have been skiing here since the 1930s, with the first tow rope in 1934 being powered by a Model-T engine. Now, resorts and lift networks are well developed with bustling nightlife and beautiful views. Vermont skiing is easy to reach by air (Boston, Burlington, and Manchester airports) or train, with daily Amtrak service to most areas.
People call Killington "The Beast of the East" because it's huge, with 22 lifts and a network covering six mountains. If you're looking to challenge yourself with steep mogul runs, this is the place — one trail is a difficult 6.5 miles long. If you're a newbie, hit the bunny hill and venture the 28 green runs among the resort's 155 trails. The Killington Snow Sports School can polish your skills in alpine and nordic skiing and turn your little ones into downhill racers too.
Alpine skiers looking for the best ski resorts in Vermont choose Stowe for its 116 trails on the state's tallest mountain, Mount Mansfield — reaching 4,395 feet. Explore 485 skiable acres through the mountains, reachable from 12 lifts.
People rave about the après-ski here, with loads of restaurants and lively bars for chilling after a hard day on the slopes. If that's not convincing, Stowe numbers among Forbes's "Top 10 Best Ski Towns in America."
If you're bringing the family to visit the best ski resorts in Vermont, Okemo Mountain should be your go-to choice. At least a third of its trails are green, and you can send your children to private or group ski lessons. If your kids are ready for bigger challenges, there's a competition and racing center for those aged 7 to 18.
With an average annual snowfall of 200 inches and snowmaking on 654 of its 667 skiable acres, conditions are reliable and consistent.
All of Stratton Mountain's 99 trails fan out from a single summit. With 41 percent of trails being green, this is a good spot for first-timers and beginners. To make ski life even easier for visitors, the resort hosts free mountain tours — tours are open to skiers of all levels and run at 10 a.m. every day.
The mountain village is one of the prettiest in Southern Vermont, with plenty of dining, drinking, and dancing choices at the end of a long day on the slopes.
Jay Peak is close to the Canadian border, so it's a long haul from most East Coast cities, but definitely worth the trip. If you fly directly into the Northeast Kingdom or Burlington International Airports, you can take advantage of crowd-free skiing and awesome conditions. With its reputation as one of the east's snowiest resorts, a good snowpack is practically guaranteed. Experienced skiers have rumored Jay Peak as having the best glade skiing through woodland trails.
Jay is not for beginners — reviewers sometimes complain that there are no transitional slopes between green and expert trails. But if you are an experienced skier or a real hot dogger, you'll love this place.
Mad River Glen is a small resort with a big reputation among skiers. Its iconic single-chair lift is the oldest continually operating single chair lift in the country. Mad River Glen is actually listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Skiers comment that this resort gives you a truly authentic mountain experience. River Glen goers are serious about skiing and travel for the powder — nothing else. If you are looking for lively nightlife and an après-ski scene, this isn't the place for you. But if you're mad about skiing and thick snow, it is probably the best ski resort in Vermont.
Magic Mountain Ski Resort was founded in the 1950s, and the founder chose the spot because it reminded him of native Switzerland. He cut trails that offer skiers real vertical thrills. The steepest run descends a screaming 1,500 feet, filled with twists and turns at a 45-degree angle. Don't worry if you are traveling with a nervous skier; 13 of its 43 runs are graded easy.
The current owners boast of its "laid-back, home-spun atmosphere," and the resort has become very popular among expert skiers. Magic Mountain won the Best Snow Award for the most challenging, least crowded, and best value ski area in the northeast.
Sugarbush is a large and popular resort in Vermont's Mad River Valley. It has 111 trails over 581 skiable acres reached by 16 lifts. Skiing here is spread over two mountains, Mount Ellen and Lincoln Peak. You can ski a good range of easy, intermediate, and expert trails — including 28 Glade trails. It's family-friendly, with a popular children's ski school and restaurants to satisfy fussy young appetites as well as adult tastes. If you are looking for a lively, festive atmosphere between your ski outings, you'll find it at Sugarbush.
Smugglers' Notch, or "Smuggs" to its regulars, claims to be the best family ski resort in Vermont. You can take advantage of an extensive list of family events. Kids and teen programs emphasize learning to ski and, for older children, improving technique. If you have really young children (6 weeks to 3 years,) a child care program helps you escape to the slopes while keeping them safe, warm and entertained. Expect plenty of snow — 320 inches is the annual average snowfall — and challenging, expert skiing (only 13 of the 78 trails are easy.)
Mount Snow is known for its well-groomed trails, 80 percent of them maintained with snowmaking. With 20 lifts at this resort, you can sample a different lift every day of a two-week vacation. About half of the 86 trails are for intermediate skiers. You can exercise your expert skills on 15 advanced trails or take it easy on 19 green slopes. Childcare services are not currently being offered, so if your kids aren't experienced skiers, leave them at home with grannie.