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 the top ski and snowboarding resorts in the Green Mountain State.

Rolling snow-dusted mountains of Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, VT. Photo by Curated expert Anna Long

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. During the winter months, some of the best skiing and riding on the East Coast of the United States can be found all throughout the Green Mountain State. Ski resorts that can fulfill that big mountain experience are 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

A skier in a green and blue jacket skis towards trees and a frozen lake

Photo by Mike Dawson, courtesy of 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. Located in the small town of Wilmington, this resort 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 and frequently visited by professionals. 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. Snowmaking covers 89% of its total terrain and it offers tree terrain on all four skiable faces. There are 20 lifts, including a high-speed, six-passenger, bubble chair and other high-speed chairs, to get skiers and riders up the hill quickly.

The Grand Summit Hotel located at the base offers an all-in-one-resort experience in Southern Vermont. Mt. Snow is a part of the Epic Pass collective along with two other Vermont resorts, Okemo and Stowe.

For the most up-to-date information about Mount Snow, please visit www.mountsnow.com.

Stratton Mountain Resort

A slope at Stratton Ski Resort

Photo by Curated expert Shannon Walton

  • 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, classic, Swiss-style village at the base of the mountain that provides a unique, mountain-town feel all on its own. It's 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. Stratton is part of the Mountain Collective pass and is accessible via the Ikon Pass.

For more information on Stratton, please visit www.stratton.com.

Okemo Mountain Resort

A ski slope with gently rolling hills in the distance

Photo by Curated expert Patrick Graham

  • Location: Ludlow, Vermont
  • Number of Runs: 121
  • Number of Lifts: 20
  • Summit Elevation: 3,344’
  • Average Annual Snowfall: 200 inches

Located in the charming village of Ludlow, Vermont, Okemo is a family-friendly gem in Southern Vermont. With lessons, daycare options, and free tickets for kids under the age of six, this is a family-friendly paradise! It provides a tried-and-true skiing and riding experience for generations of families, from those learning to ski to those booking yearly trips.

While the mountain is smaller than others in the area, Okemo offers 98% snowmaking coverage, the highest efficiency of any mountain in Vermont, allowing the resort to consistently open around Thanksgiving weekend and close just after Easter in April, while providing consistent snow conditions on its 121 trails throughout the season.

It’s arguably the best ski-on/ski-off experience in the state with high-end condominiums and townhouses for guests to stay in, making easy access to the slopes.

Okemo has been making some minor improvements in the past years with the expansion of a second base area, Jackson Gore, and the expansion of ski-on/ski off condominiums at the South Face. Patrons stay comfy on the lifts with two high-speed, heated, bubble chairs and other high-speed detachable lifts.

Combined with a luxury hotel at Jackson Gore, the Springhouse fitness and aquatic center, Ice House skating rink, tubing area, and other non-skiing-related activities, Okemo makes for a great family destination.

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.

More information about Okemo can be found directly at www.okemo.com.

Killington Ski Resort

Sunset over the mountains at Killington Resort

Photo by Curated expert Brandon Westburg

  • Location: Killington, Vermont
  • Number of Runs: 212
  • Number of Lifts: 22
  • Summit Elevation: 4,241’
  • Average Annual Snowfall: 250 inches

The "Beast of the East", 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 point in the Green Mountain State.

With industry-leading snowmaking, 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!

There are 155 trails at the main resort, and it tops out at 212 total, including the sister mountain, Pico Mountain. Part of the reason Killington has so many more trails compared to the other Vermont resorts is due to its acquisition of Pico Mountain, which is six miles west. 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 with Pico lift access included in the purchase of a Killington lift ticket. This makes Killington a two-day trip at least if you want to ski it all.

Northwestern facing, Pico Mountain provides breathtaking views from just shy of 4,000 feet at the peak. With a vertical drop of 1,967 feet, 57 unique trails, and two high-speed detachable quads, Pico a must-visit for families, budget skiers, or guests who enjoy spending more time heading down over the glitz and glam of the other resorts. Pico does not operate seven days a week so planning ahead is needed for this resort. More information about Pico Mountain can be found at its website at www.picomountain.com.

Recent investments at Killington Resort to improve skiing, riding, and the all-around resort experience include replacing the K-1 base lodge, adding a high-speed, six-passenger bubble chair, building all new cabins and upgrades to the K-1 gondola, as well as many other ski-lift additions and improvements around the resort. There have also been changes to the terrain, such as adding tunnels to remove multiple intersections, and the creation of Woodward Killington to improve youth action sports programs.

Also called K-town, Killington has one of the best après-ski scenes on the East Coast and live music is played every weekend in the lodges. Multiple restaurants and establishments line the access road for guests to visit after the lifts stop spinning. To top off the fun, the resort hosts wacky events throughout the year, like the Killington World Cup, Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge, Burton Slash ’n Berm, and many other events.

Killington is also committed to becoming a four-season resort by refurbishing and creating the largest downhill mountain bike park on the East Coast and a family-friendly mountain theme park. With the purchase of a Killington 365 pass, you will receive a free Ikon base pass, making it one of the best pass products available.

Killington is three hours from Boston, four and half hours from NYC, 6 hours from Philadelphia, and three and half hours from Montreal.

For more information about Killington’s winter operations and summer activities, please visit its website at www.killington.com.

Sugarbush Resort

The mountain ridge at Sugarbush Resort with a bright blue sky overhead

Photo by Curated expert Brandon Westburg

  • 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 six peaks, two base areas, 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 its three 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.

Located on Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, the resort features 28 wooded areas and receives 250 inches of snow yearly. With over 4,000 acres of skiable land, Mother Nature is providing the goods with snowmaking covering most of the terrain. Lincoln Peak, just shy of 4,000 feet tall, is home to Sugarbush’s ski school and main lodging options. Mount Ellen is the state’s third highest peak, is home to the Green Mountain Valley School’s race program, and is connected to Lincoln via the Slide Brook lift. Slide Brook Basin is as close to a backcountry experience within bounds at a resort in Vermont, with options to ski from each face and a free shuttle back to the base areas.

Recently acquired by Alterra Mountain Company, the resort is committed to finishing the revitalization of Lincoln Peak, while keeping the classic Vermont skiing experience at Mount Ellen. These projects have brought RFID lift-gate technology, a new base lodge, a learning center, and many new townhouses and condominiums for patrons.

This resort is a member of the Mountain Collective and also 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.

For the most up-to-date information on Sugarbush’s operations, please visit its website directly at www.sugarbush.com.

Stowe Mountain Resort

A snowboarder riding down through a forest

Photo by Curated expert Anna Long

  • Location: Stowe, Vermont
  • Number of Runs: 116
  • Number of Lifts: 12
  • Summit Elevation: 3,719’
  • Average Annual Snowfall: 314 inches

Stowe Mountain Resort might be the most iconic and well-known Vermont resort. It 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.

Snowmaking covers 83% of the 116 available trails at Stowe, and it receives an annual snowfall of over 300 inches. The resort's 12 lifts include an inter-mountain transfer gondola, a high-speed summit gondola, four detachable quads, three triples, and multiple doubles and surface lifts for beginners.

Stowe is a quick commute from Burlington, Vermont's largest city, and 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.

For more information about Stowe Resort, please visit www.stowe.com.

Smugglers’ Notch Resort

Skiers make their way down a trail

Photo by Priscilla Emerling, courtesy of 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. The resort has three mountain areas and snowmaking on 62% of the 78 classic trails.

Smuggs also has a decidedly family-friendly vibe, and as such has one of the best ski and ride schools in the country. In addition to an industry-leading learning center, the glade skiing is some of the best in Vermont and is a hot spot for uphill travelers.

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.

Independently owned, the best way to visit is by purchasing directly from the resort. More information can be found at www.smuggs.com.

Jay Peak Resort

Snowboarding through deep snow

Photo by Curated expert Luke Sussdorf

  • 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. Jay Peak features some of the best powder, backcountry, and glades in Vermont. While snowmaking covers 80% of the mountain, 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 81 trails that really blend the lines between glades and groomers, nine lifts, including a mountain tram, and a recently constructed state-of-the-art indoor water park known as the Pump House, Jay Peak is worth the drive.

Jay Peak offers a great all-in-one experience by combining lift ticket rates, lodging, and access to the waterpark for one low rate. More information about Jay Peak can be found on its website at www.jaypeakresort.com.

Bolton Valley Resort

A chairlift over a lit up ski slope at night

Bolton Valley night riding, VT. Photo by Curated expert Anna Long

  • Location: Bolton, Vermont
  • Number of Runs: 71
  • Number of Lifts: 6
  • Summit Elevation: 2,100'
  • Average Annual Snowfall: 300"

Bolton Valley Resort is easily missed with Stowe, Sugarbush, and other larger resorts nearby. Just a 30-minute drive from Burlington, Bolton Valley is the go-to for many locals, college students, and other youth programs. The resort features 71 trails and spectacular views to the west and of Lake Champlain. The resort has two base areas and is a popular spot for people looking to earn their turns.

Bolton is the only resort in Vermont to offer night skiing and lifts spin from 9am to 10pm, three days a week. The resort offers great lodging options for families, guests looking to hit first chair, or those visiting for a day trip. Bolton Valley is privately owned by the DesLauriers family and is accessible on the Indy Pass.

More information about Bolton Valley can be found at www.boltonvalley.com.

Magic Mountain Resort

An aerial view of Magic Mountain Ski Resort

Photo by Jared Benedict

  • Location: Londonderry, Vermont
  • Number of Runs: 43
  • Number of Lifts: 4
  • Summit Elevation: 7,240'
  • Average Annual Snowfall: 230"

Truly a forgotten gem in the cluster of terrific resorts of Southern Vermont, Magic Mountain Resort has seen a revitalization in recent years. The mountain features 50 trails with 11 unique glade trails. Its 50% snowmaking coverage and improvements in lifts are bringing it back to must-visit status for guests looking for a one-of-a-kind skiing and riding experience that won't break the bank.

Independently owned, the best way to access Magic is on the Indy Pass, or by purchasing directly from the resort. With limited snowmaking abilities, the mountain’s conditions often change and guests should double check the resort’s website at www.magicmtn.com for the most up to date information.

Honorable Mentions

A chairlift high up over the clouds at sunrise

Mad River Glen, VT. Photo by Brandon Westburg

Visitors have many great options to check out multiple resorts on one pass like the Epic, Ikon, or the smaller-mountain option, the Indy Pass. These products provide an opportunity to explore multiple resorts for one low cost.

Those planning to explore the Southern region might want to also consider visiting Bromley Mountain. Bromley is near the popular town of Manchester and offers terrific skiing and riding for families with plenty to do in the area.

Guests visiting the central Vermont area might want to consider Suicide Six, if the hustle and bustle of Killington and Okemo is too much for them. Owned and operated by the Woodstock Inn, Suicide Six provides a four-star experience in a small-town local package.

Central Vermont has one of the most traditional skiing experiences at Mad River Glen. It is open only to skiers, is home to the only single chair on the East Coast, and has some of the most challenging terrain in the state.

For more information on Bromley Mountain, Stratton Mountain Resort, Suicide Six, and Mad River Glen can be found at their websites: www.bromley.com, www.suicide6.com, and www.madriverglen.com.

Trees alongside a ski slope with gently rolling mountains in the distance

Stowe, VT. Photo by Curated expert Anna Long

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! From small resorts like Bolton Valley, to the industry leaders like Killington, Vermont has something for everyone. 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!

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Written By
Matt Curran
Matt Curran
Snowboard Expert
I've been an avid rider for around 12 years. I grew up on the east coast, mostly riding in Vermont, but I now reside in Oregon. I have plenty of experience riding in all types of conditions from ice to deep powder and everything in between. I would say that I'm a bit of a jack of all trades when it...
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Born and raised in Vermont, winter sports have been my lifelong passion. In high school my friends would spend our weekends at Statton, Pico, Killington, or Jay Peak searching for untouched snow or working for a free pass. During the week you could find us in the backyard or hiking out into the wild...

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