An Expert Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding in Vermont
If you're planning a trip to Vermont this winter, make sure to check out this guide to some of the top ski and snowboarding resorts.
Growing up in the Northeast made it difficult to get a quality snowboarding experience. With most states in that part of the country being relatively flat, and there being a tendency for icy conditions, the trips to the local ski hills were laughable compared to the resorts out west.
But whenever my friends and I had the chance, we would wake up bright and early and make the drive up to Vermont. The Green Mountain State is full of ski resorts that can fulfill that big mountain experience, and is within a day’s drive from major metropolitan areas like Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Montreal.
So here is an overview of eight of the most noteworthy of Vermont’s resorts, starting from the southern part of the state and moving north.
Mount Snow Resort
- Location: West Dover, Vermont
- Number of Runs: 86
- Number of Lifts: 20
- Summit Elevation: 3,600’
- Average Annual Snowfall: 156 inches
Mount Snow is an excellent southern Vermont mountain. This is the most accessible of the major Vermont ski areas: six hours from Philadelphia, four hours from NYC, four and a half hours from Montreal, and just two and half hours from Boston, so if you’re feeling ambitious this could be a day trip for many of you. Mt. Snow is also home to Carinthia, one of the most extensive terrain parks in the Northeast. It takes up an entire face of the mountain - about 100 acres - and has everything your inner park rat could hope for. Entry level jibs to gnarly pro status features (even a super pipe!), this park will not disappoint.
However, that’s not all this mountain brings to the table. There is also plenty of terrain for any type of rider, 16% of the trails are green circles, 66% are blue squares, and 18% are black diamonds & riveting tree runs available on the entirety of the mountain. There are 20 lifts spread out across the resort and the grand summit resort hotel located at the base for a true winter vacation experience. Mt. Snow is a part of the Epic Pass collective along with two other Vermont resorts, Okemo and Stowe.
Stratton Mountain Resort
- Location: Stratton Mountain, Vermont
- Number of Runs: 99
- Number of Lifts: 11
- Summit Elevation: 3,875’
- Average Annual Snowfall: 180 inches
Stratton is the next southern Vermont resort on the list. Five hours from Philadelphia, four hours from NYC, four hours from Montreal and three hours from Boston, Stratton has crafted a personal image that caters to the bougier winter sports enthusiast. The resort has a delightful village at the base of the mountain full of outlet stores, restaurants and a spa, so if you happen to be visiting with someone who doesn't ski or snowboard they can still have a great time enjoying all the amenities found in the village.
Stratton boasts 99 trails with nearly complete coverage by snow making machines meaning the mountain will typically be open earlier in the season than some other Vermont resorts. Stratton is also the tallest peak in southern Vermont at 3,875’ and boasts 160 acres of off-piste gladed terrain. The 11 lifts found at Stratton drop guests off to trails that are 40% novice level, 35% intermediate, 16% advanced and 9% expert rated.
Okemo Mountain Resort
- Location: Ludlow, Vermont
- Number of Runs: 121
- Number of Lifts: 20
- Summit Elevation: 3,344’
- Average Annual Snowfall: 200 inches
Okemo is another top notch option for your next snowboarding adventure. This resort has the highest snowmaking efficiency of any mountain in Vermont, making for lots of consistently snowy terrain! With lessons, daycare options, and free tickets for kids under the age of six, this is a family-friendly paradise! And for guests looking to explore the mountain for more than a day, Okemo has luxury ski in/ski out condos as well as a variety of other lodging options.
Okemo is located 3 hours from Boston, four hours and forty five minutes from NYC, six hours and fifteen minutes from Philadelphia and three and a half hours from Montreal. Okemo is a part of the Epic Pass mountain collective along with two other Vermont resorts, Stowe and Mt. Snow.
Killington Ski Resort
- Location: Killington, Vermont
- Number of Runs: 212
- Number of Lifts: 22
- Summit Elevation: 4,241’
- Average Annual Snowfall: 250 inches
Killington consists of seven different neighboring peaks culminating in a legendary snowboarding experience. The tallest summit (Killington Peak) climbs to 4,241’ and is the second highest in the green mountain state.
Part of the reason Killington has so many more trails compared to the other Vermont resorts is due to their acquisition of nearby Pico Mountain. For years Pico was its own entity but now that it is technically a part of Killington, Pico’s 57 trails are counted towards Killington’s overall count. Killington is also known for being the first resort in Vermont to open each year, and the last to close, so if you can’t wait to strap in or don’t want the season to end, Killington usually starts running the lifts in October and operations can shut down as late as June!
Killington is three hours from Boston, four and half hours from NYC, 6 hours from Philadelphia, and three and half hours from Montreal.
- Location: Warren, Vermont
- Number of Runs: 111
- Number of Lifts: 16
- Summit Elevation: 4,083’
- Average Annual Snowfall: 250 inches
Sugarbush is one of the best resorts in Northern Vermont and is tied for my personal favorite (along with Jay Peak). With five peaks, 16 lifts, and 111 trails, this resort really has something for everyone because of the relatively even split of difficulty levels found in its trails. 18.7% of the trails are green circles, 33.8% are blue squares, 21.6% are black diamonds, and 5.8% are double blacks along with 28 gladed areas for you to explore.
Another thing that I always enjoyed about Sugarbush was the creativity of the terrain parks. Most mountains have terrain parks, but not all have the type of flow-y setup combined with unique features that you’ll find at Sugarbush.
This resort is a member of the Mountain Collective as well as a resort that falls under the Ikon Pass so owning either of those season passes will get you a certain number of days at Sugarbush and/or a discount on day passes depending on which package you purchased. Sugarbush is six hours and forty five minutes to Philadelphia, five hours and forty five minutes from NYC, three and half hours to Boston, and two and half hours from Montreal.
Stowe Mountain Resort
- Location: Stowe, Vermont
- Number of Runs: 116
- Number of Lifts: 12
- Summit Elevation: 3,719’
- Average Annual Snowfall: 314 inches
Stowe Mountain Resort aims to represent the mantra of being the Aspen of the Northeast, and it delivers! It is located on the biggest mountain in Vermont, Mount Mansfield, which tops off at 4,395’. The lifts don’t get you to the top of the mountain, but they get you pretty close and the hike up is quite the experience, although I’d only recommend that endeavour to a very accomplished rider.
Stowe, Vermont is the quintessential Northeast mountain town of your dreams, and the perfect place to hang out after a day on the mountain. Friendly locals, good food, and plenty of locally-made craft beer - it really something for everyone, which is exactly how I feel about the riding at Stowe as well. There are trails for skiers of all skill levels: 16% beginner, 55% intermediate, 29% expert, and numerous off-piste sections as well as top tier terrain parks for the adrenaline junkies in your group. I really like how the resort was designed to have entire sections devoted to each difficulty level of trail. This behooves progression and makes it less likely for the rider to get caught in an area they aren’t quite ready to take on. Stowe is seven hours and fifteen minutes to Philadelphia, six hours to NYC, three hours and fifteen to Boston, and two and half hours to Montreal.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort
- Location: Jeffersonville, Vermont
- Number of Runs: 78
- Number of Lifts: 8
- Summit Elevation: 3,640’
- Average Annual Snowfall: 280 inches
Smugglers’ Notch, or Smuggs as it is locally known, is another notable resort in Northern Vermont. It is located on the backside of Stowe and as such is the cheaper option of the two. While Smuggs may not have all the bells and whistles Stowe has, it does have a few noteworthy claims to fame. For one, Smuggs has the only triple black diamond on the east coast. The resort has also held on to that small town mountain vibe that is quickly disappearing from the ski world, and which I find endearing.
I consider Smuggs to have the most scenic ski resort views in Vermont because when you get atop Madonna Mountain, you get a fabulous view of Mt. Mansfield and parts of Stowe. Smuggs also has a decidedly family-friendly vibe, and as such has one of the best ski and ride schools in the country. Smuggs also has a fun zone for off the slopes family activities. You can do everything from laser tag to mini golf. There is even an arcade in the fun zone!
Smuggs is seven hours to Philadelphia, six hours and twenty minutes to NYC, four hours to Boston, and two hours from Montreal.
Jay Peak Resort
- Location: Jay, Vermont
- Number of Runs: 81
- Number of Lifts: 9
- Summit Elevation: 3,968’
- Average Annual Snowfall: 359 inches
The last and most northerly resort on my list is Jay Peak, and it also happens to be tied for my personal favorite! Jay Peak is almost on the Canadian border, so it’s going to be a bit more of a drive than all the other resorts I mentioned if you’re coming from south of Vermont. It’s about seven and half hours from Philadelphia, six hours from NYC, four hours to Boston and 2 hours to Montreal.
Distance aside, Jay Peak is really something special. On average, Jay Peak experiences the most snow of any resort in the Northeast, with an astounding average of 359 inches of natural snowfall per year. All that snow wouldn’t really be as much fun without some impressive off-piste terrain, and Jay Peak delivers with 100+ acres of gladed terrain. Combine that with trails that really blend the lines between glades and groomers, and a recently constructed state-of-the-art indoor water park known as the Pump House, Jay Peak is worth the drive.
These are just a handful of the many mountains to ski in Vermont - and that doesn’t even begin to touch on places for cross-country skiing! And if you’re heading out to the mountain and find yourself in need of some new gear, don’t forget to chat with a Curated expert to find the best gear for you!