Vermont is home to some of the best ski areas in the Northeast, mostly due to its diverse terrain, natural and manmade glades spread across the state, and the higher-than-average annual snowfall relative to the surrounding states. While the picturesque Green Hills, quaint villages and towns, maple syrup galore, and community-oriented outdoor scene make Vermont a great place to visit year-round, East Coast powder hounds know the state as a winter destination.
While there is an abundance of both backcountry and frontcountry skiing to be had, the following ski areas are a great place to start.
With an annual average snowfall that often competes with some of the most renowned resorts out west (377 inches annually, 491 during the 2016-2017 ski season), Jay Peak should be at the top of every skier and snowboarder’s East Coast list. The resort’s 385 acres and 2,153-foot vertical drop is filled with some of the best tree skiing/riding and gnarliest terrain in the east, and exploration of every pocket of trees that can be found in the side country is encouraged.
The mountain’s off-the-beaten-path location, just a few miles south of the Canadian border, make it slightly less of a family vacation spot than nearby Stowe, leaving the goods for those who are more concerned about finding waist-deep pow than a luxury bed to sleep in. If backcountry is your thing, don’t forget to make the trek over to Big Jay for some off-piste glades and deep powder.
With most of the crowds heading up to Killington and Stowe from New York and Massachusetts, Sugarbush sees a much lower influx of tourist traffic during the winter season despite the fact that it is one of the biggest resorts in New England. Located in the Mad River Valley, Sugarbush has almost 600 on-piste acres spread across two main ski areas, with an additional 2,000 backcountry acres in the Slide Brook Wilderness area, which is situated in between.
A 2,600-foot vertical drop and 262 inches of annual snowfall make this a great place to explore the trees and steeps, although skiers and riders of all abilities will find enough terrain to keep them busy for days. After a day on the hill, stop by The Blue Stone in nearby Waitsfield for a locally brewed craft beer and a slice.
Killington is one of the Northeast’s most popular resorts, and for good reason. Often open from October to late May or early June, Killington is frequently the first to open and last to close on the east coast, making it a great place to get your early- and late-season fix.
Killington’s 1,509 skiable acres span across six peaks, which reach a maximum vertical drop of 3,050 feet, the second largest in New England. While the combination of a 250-inch annual snowfall and easy accessibility from New York City via train and bus make this a top destination, the expansive terrain still allows for plenty of secret stashes for those willing to look.
While Mount Snow may not have the most expansive terrain or deepest snow in the state, its 10 terrain parks and superpipe, one of the only pipes in the east, are often a big draw for your typical northeast park rat. The 1,700-foot vertical drop, 588 skiable acres, 166-inch annual snowfall, along with its proximity to New York City make this a great destination for those looking to travel further than the Catskills without spending an entire day in the car, even if the terrain parks are not of interest.
Bolton Valley rarely makes it onto the radar of out-of-state skiers and riders, which makes it a great place for those who want great terrain without having to wake up before the sun to wait in line for first tracks on a Tuesday. This smaller ski area has 300 acres of on-piste skiing, a vertical drop of 1,703 feet, and an impressive 300 inches of snow annually. The adventurous will find plenty of sidecountry glades, while those who stay on-piste will still be impressed with the tree skiing. A day at Bolton is a great day trip for those basing themselves out of nearby Stowe or Burlington.
A list of Vermont ski resorts does not seem complete without mention of Stowe. Located in one of the coolest towns in the state, from which the resort gets its namesake, Stowe is a great place to spend a few days – or a lifetime. The 2,360-foot vertical drop, 485 acres of skiable terrain, and 314 inches of snow annually put this luxury resort on the top of Vail’s list of recent purchases, making it the first East Coast resort to make their roster. After a day of shredding the groomers or dropping in on the hiking-only accessed Chin, stop by Doc Ponds to sample some local beers, brewed by some of the best breweries in the country.