15 Top-Rated Ski Resorts on the East Coast, 2019

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers

Skiing on the East Coast is a bit different from skiing in the west. Elevations are lower, and knee-deep powder is almost unheard of. There may be more of a mix of natural and man-made snow, but snowmaking is so advanced at most mountains that you might have trouble telling the difference. Although few mountains offer the long, steep runs of higher western peaks, eastern mountains don't lack for white-knuckle challenges, with plenty of precipitous, gnarly trails, especially in New Hampshire's craggy White Mountains.

Ski resorts on the East Coast emphasize family skiing, and nearly all have a good range of terrain for everyone, from children on their first skis to Olympic skiers. After all, these are the mountains where multi-medalist Bode Miller and snowboard cross racers Lindsey Jacobellis and Alex Deibold learned their skills.

Ski Resort in Vermont

Ski resort in Vermont

Although the skiing is paramount, the overall quality of the winter vacation experience is also important, and you'll find differences here, too. Most eastern resorts spill into traditional New England towns, and although most have on-mountain lodging and dining, there is plenty of chance to enjoy Yankee hospitality in these postcard mountain villages.

When ranking these eastern resorts, consideration has been given to all these factors, in addition to the variety and quality of the ski experience. Ski resorts in New Hampshire and Vermont are so close together that you can plan a trip to ski multiple mountains in both states. Thanks to north-south interstate highways, several resorts here are within a few hours of New York or Boston. Airports at Manchester, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont bring you even closer to the slopes. Explore your options with our list of the top ski resorts on the East Coast.

1. Okemo Mountain Resort, Vermont

Okemo Mountain Resort, Vermont

Okemo Mountain Resort, Vermont | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers Photography

Earning consistent top ratings for the quality of its grooming and snowmaking, as well as its terrain parks, family programs, dining, and customer service, Okemo Mountain Resort also offers an easily reachable location in south-central Vermont. What it may lack in death-defying plunges, it more than makes up for in its abundant and perfectly groomed cruisers for all skill levels. T

he skill levels of the resort's 121 trails are the most evenly divided in the east, and in addition there are 21 glades to further challenge experienced skiers. Borders will love the East's longest superpipe, along with nine terrain parks that are among the most innovative in the East. State-of-the-art snowmaking covers 98 percent of the terrain, adding to the high natural snowfall, to earn Okemo repeated national awards for snow quality.

With some of the best ski conditions in the East, you'd expect long lines, but Okemo has recently changed to RFID ticketing. Skiers go directly onto lifts without waits for ticket check. Lifts also take advantage of the latest technology, and Okemo was the East's first (and only) resort to install a six-pack bubble-covered lift with heated seats.

Off-slope facilities are just as good, with luxury on-mountain lodging at the Jackson Gore Inn and food options, from quick snacks at a ski-up waffle cabin to candle-lit fine dining. A covered skating rink, full-service spa, indoor and outdoor pools, cross-country skiing, fat-bike rentals and trails, snowshoeing, indoor golf, a tubing hill, the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster, and snow-cat excursions combine with skiing to give Okemo a visitor experience that few resorts can match.

In 2018, Okemo became an Epic Resort when it was acquired by Vail Resorts; expect a major investment in new and upgraded facilities to keep Okemo tops in the East.

Address: 77 Okemo Ridge Road, Ludlow, Vermont

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Ludlow, near Okemo

2. Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, New Hampshire

Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, New Hampshire

Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, New Hampshire

A few miles north of North Conway, Bretton Woods is a large, upscale ski resort complex, which caters to high-end skiers with a full range of sports, lodging, dining, spa, and resort services. The historic Mount Washington Hotel, now the Omni Mount Washington Resort, faces the ski trails across a valley floor that's traversed by the resort's cross-country trails. Ten lifts serve 62 ski trails, 35 glades, and three terrain parks, covering a total of 464 skiable acres.

Its northern location and exposure and 97 percent snowmaking coverage combine to give Bretton Woods some of the state's most dependable snow conditions, which consistently rate among the best in the East. This season, Bretton Woods has installed New Hampshire's first eight-person gondola, which will travel 6,000 feet to the summit in about five minutes. They offer night skiing on weekends, and a number of other winter activities at the hotel and ski area, including a zipline, snowshoeing, sledding, and fat-bike trails and rentals, along with a full cross-country ski center.

Address: Route 302, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Bretton Woods

3. Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont

Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont

Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont

Vermont's quintessential ski town is Stowe, an early center for the new sport of skiing in the 1930s. One of the first chairlifts in the world began taking skiers up the mountain in 1937. You can trace skiing's evolution in the center of the postcard village at the Vermont Ski Museum. Vermont's tallest peak, Mt. Mansfield, and neighboring Spruce Peak are a few miles away, and between the mountains and village center, Mountain Road offers a wide choice of inns and accommodation with recreation facilities, such as Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa. More resort facilities are at the base of the ski area.

A gondola takes skiers to the top of Mt. Mansfield, and another connects the two mountains, between them accessing 116 trails. More than half of these are rated for intermediates. Experts can get their thrills on 29 trails, some of the state's most challenging, and boarders will find three terrain parks. These are reached by gondolas, three high-speed quads, three conventional quads, two triples, and three double chairlifts.

New for the 2018/2019 season are on-mountain Kids Adventure Zones, well-signed and gentle side country areas, and freestyle terrain designed for learning progression. Outdoor sports off the slopes include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, dogsledding, and snowmobile tours.

Address: 5781 Mountain Road, Stowe, Vermont

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Stowe

4. Jay Peak, Vermont

Jay Peak

Jay Peak

Just five miles from the US-Canadian border, Jay Peak makes up for its remote location with the most natural snowfall of any ski mountain in the Eastern US. The far-north location combines with an 80-percent snowmaking coverage to assure skiing from mid-November through mid-May.

The resort's 385 skiable acres are accessed via Vermont's only aerial tramway, reaching from the base to the 3,968-foot summit, and by chair and surface lifts that can move more than 12,000 skiers per hour. Jay Peak is one of New England's rare ski mountains with glades designed for novice and intermediate skiers, giving them an early taste of tree skiing. Fifteen of Jay's trails are designated for beginners, with the rest divided evenly between intermediate and expert. Again unusual for ski resorts in the East, Jay has notable backcountry skiing.

As you might expect from its border location, a lot of skiers here are from Quebec, so skiing in this bilingual atmosphere gives it the feel of an international vacation. Jay has been growing into a year-round resort and in the process, it offers more activities for non-skiers and après-skiers, including two new synthetic-turf athletic fields to host soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey tournaments. The resort already offers a spa, ice-skating, and sleigh rides, along with a wide choice of lodging and dining.

Address: 830 Jay Peak Road, Jay, Vermont

Official site: http://jaypeakresort.com/

5. Sugarbush/Mad River Glen, Vermont


Sugarbush | dvs / photo modified

Celebrating its 60th anniversary this season with a schedule of celebrations and events, Sugarbush was the darling of "Jet Setters" in the 1960s, and the term itself is claimed to have originated here. That aura of luxury survives and has been enhanced in its beautifully designed base village, upscale hotel, fine dining, and well-groomed trails.

It's the skiing, though that attracts the crowds today: Vermont's highest chairlift climbs to trails and glades on Mt. Ellen, and between it and Lincoln Peak there are 36 trails and 21 glades for experts, with 200 acres of challenging backcountry. But it's not all for experts: over half of its 111 trails are for intermediate skiers and 24 are for beginners. The East's only CAT skiing gives skiers access to first tracks after fresh snowfall on Mt. Ellen. Three terrain parks and a half-pipe welcome snowboarders.

Not so at neighboring Mad River Glen, a skier-only mountain with a throwback ethic that keeps it just the way its co-op owners like it: a little old-fashioned, with natural snow and natural terrain that follows the contours of the mountain, not those created by bulldozers.

Address: 1840 Sugarbush Access Road, Warren, Vermont

Official site: www.sugarbush.com

6. Sugarloaf, Maine

Sugarloaf, Maine

Sugarloaf, Maine | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers Photography

Sugarloaf makes up for its remote northern Maine location (it's a four-hour drive from either Montreal or Boston) with a 200-foot annual snowfall, a season that stretches into May, and the only lift-served skiing above the tree line in the east. So if wide-open snowfields or late April skiing beckon you, head for Maine's western mountains.

With 1,240 acres of developed terrain and 2,820 feet of continuous vertical, it has the most skiable surface of any mountain in the East, composed of 161 trails and glades and three progressive terrain parks. About half the terrain is covered by snowmaking. The longest run cruises 3.5 miles from the summit. Along with a hotel, an inn, and dining, the resort facilities at the base include an Outdoor Center with cross-country skiing, ice-skating, and snowshoeing.

Address: 5092 Access Road, Carrabassett Valley, Maine

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Sugarloaf

7. Killington, Vermont

Killington, Vermont

Killington, Vermont

Killington's long reputation as a lively mountain has made it especially popular with young skiers and boarders, while its 60 black diamond trails and 16 glades give it more expert terrain than any other Vermont mountains. But there is plenty for intermediates (53 trails) and beginners (43 trails), and for those whose day does not revolve around après-ski. The variety of terrain is appealing, too, as along with its steep mogul faces and precipitous drops, there are long, wide cruisers and some old-school winding, narrow trails.

As you'd expect from a resort favored by a younger set, boarders and freestyle skiers can choose from among six parks and a 500-foot Superpipe with 18-foot walls. Two of Killington's 22 lifts are express gondolas, and a new six-person high-speed bubble chairlift this season makes the ride up Snowdon Mountain a lot more comfortable.

All winter long at the base you can see a continuing series of bands, festivals, competitions, and events, and the road leading to the base is lined with après-ski venues. For a quieter and more traditional, if somewhat old-fashioned, ski experience, try nearby Pico Mountain, with a vertical drop of just under 2,000 feet, which is among Vermont's highest.

Address: 4763 Killington Road, Killington, Vermont

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Killington

8. Loon Mountain, New Hampshire

Loon Mountain, New Hampshire

Loon Mountain, New Hampshire

Less than 10 minutes off I-93 and only two hours from Boston, Loon Mountain is the closest full-service ski resort to an Interstate highway. Loon's two separate sections are located on three different peaks inside the White Mountain National Forest, with a vertical drop of 2,100 feet.

The 61 trails are well divided for different skill levels, as are the terrain parks, where there is terrain reserved for very young beginning borders, along with plenty of challenges for experts. Much of Loon's terrain faces north, so snow conditions here tend to hold well during warmer days and last longer into spring skiing.

The Mountain Club On Loon, right in the base lodge and a few steps from the gondola loading area, offers a full-service hotel with restaurants, parking, a swimming pool, and spa. Even for those not staying at the hotel, Loon is arranged to make slope access easy for arriving skiers laden with equipment. For non-skiers, the Loon Mountain Adventure Center at the base area offers snow tubing, snowshoeing, guided snowshoe tours, cross-country skiing, ice-skating, and zipline rides

Address: 60 Loon Mountain Road, Lincoln, New Hampshire

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Lincoln, near Loon Mountain

9. Cranmore Mountain and North Conway, New Hampshire

Cranmore Mountain and North Conway, New Hampshire

Cranmore Mountain and North Conway, New Hampshire | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers Photography

Ski with history at this mountain that was one of the first recreational ski resorts, dating from the 1930s, when Ski Trains brought enthusiasts from Boston and New York. The mountain overlooks North Conway, which is acclaimed as New England's top ski resort town, as well as one of the most affordable. Its compact Main Street is lined with shops featuring the latest equipment and ski wear, and plenty of après-ski, dining, and lodging options for all budgets. South of the Main Street area are discount malls filled with one of New England's largest collections of brand-name outlets.

Skiing is what North Conway is all about, from the time the first flakes fall in November. Nine lifts disperse skiers across more than 200 acres of skiable terrain, networked by 57 trails. Views from any of them are breathtaking, with a panorama of Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range across a wide, snow-covered valley. Most of the trails face west, for glorious afternoon sun that moderates the coldest winter days.

Trails and snowboard parks are evenly spread for all levels of skiers, with plenty to challenge experienced skiers. A real plus for arriving skiers is the short and easy access from the unloading area to the lifts. An especially family-friendly resort, Cranmore has an excellent ski instruction program and a number of non-ski outdoor attractions and things to do, including a large tubing hill and a Mountain Coaster.

Address: 1 Skimobile Road, North Conway, New Hampshire

Accommodation: Where to Stay in North Conway

10. Gore Mountain, New York

Gore Mountain

Gore Mountain | Photo Credit: Gore Mountain

New York's largest ski area spans four different mountains in the Adirondacks: Gore, Little Gore, Burnt Ridge, and Bear Mountain. Combined, they offer 446 accessible acres of skiing and riding, with 2,537 feet of vertical drop. This is a mountain loved by experienced skiers, with 27 glades and 40 percent of its 119 trails designated black diamond. Half the trails are intermediate and 10 percent are suitable for beginning skiers. Gore's 14 lifts include an eight-passenger gondola and two high-speed quads.

In addition to alpine skiing, Gore Mountain has nine cross-country and snowshoe trails located at North Creek Ski Bowl, at the base of Little Gore Mountain. These and the downhill, halfpipe, and freestyle terrain at the Ski Bowl are lighted for night skiing.

Address: North Creek, New York

Official Site: https://www.goremountain.com/

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Gore Mountain

11. Mount Snow, Vermont

Mount Snow, Vermont

Mount Snow, Vermont | William J Sisti / photo modified

The southernmost of Vermont's ski resorts, Mount Snow owes its loyal following to several things: superb snowmaking, an excellent lift system, an especially wide variety of trails for intermediate skiers, plenty of terrain for boarders, and proximity to the Northeast's major cities. Snow's 589 acres of skiable terrain is accessed by 20 lifts, including three high-speed quads and the Bluebird Express, the East's first six-passenger bubble lift.

Of the 80 trails, 54 are for intermediate skiers, with 12 for beginners and 14 for experts, including one double black diamond. Beginners can ski from the summit on a three-mile cruiser. Carinthia Park has a half-pipe, and a total of 130 features challenge boarders.

Mount Snow is known for its ability to make snow when nature doesn't. Its 899 snow guns are the most of any ski mountain in North America, so even if they don't get the usual average snowfall of 156 inches, they can maintain top conditions. Lodgings in all price ranges are right at the base area.

Address: 39 Mount Snow Road, West Dover, Vermont

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Dover, near Mount Snow

12. Stratton Mountain, Vermont

Stratton Mountain, Vermont

Stratton Mountain, Vermont | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers Photography

Fast lifts and good snow conditions make Stratton popular with skiers, while boarders treasure it for the variety of its terrain parks. The Progression Park is specially designed for learning riders, and the top-to-bottom boardercross course, East Byrnes Side, was designed by Olympians. There are five terrain parks in all, plus 97 trails and more than 100 acres of glades. Beginning skiers are well served here, with 41 green trails, but intermediates and experts have plenty of options, with 31 blue and 28 black diamond trails.

Stratton has built its own village at the base, in the style of luxury European ski resorts, so there's plenty of choice in dining, après-ski, and shopping. Winter sports include tubing, ice-skating, sleigh rides, and dogsled tours. Manchester, with its variety of restaurants and upscale-brand outlets is nearby.

Address: 5 Village Lodge Road, Stratton Mountain, Vermont

Accommodation: Where to Stay at Stratton Mountain

13. Whiteface Mountain, New York

Whiteface Mountain

Whiteface Mountain

With 3,429 feet of vertical drop, the most of any eastern ski resort, Whiteface Mountain may not offer double-black trails, but don't be deceived: there's 35 acres of off-piste double-black wilderness terrain, 53 acres of glades, and more than one-third of the trails are designated black. A gondola and 11 lifts access 288 acres of skiing, 220 of which are covered by snowmaking to supplement the natural snowfall of the Adirondacks.

Beginner trails account for 20 percent of the runs, and 42 percent are intermediate; the 2.1-mile Wilmington Trail is the longest single intermediate run in the Northeast. Boarders and freestyle skiers will find two terrain parks, a half pipe, and beginner's park.

Off-slope attractions include ice-skating, bobsledding, and luge rides, plus there are plenty of entertainment and tourist facilities in Lake Placid.

Official site: https://www.whiteface.com

14. Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire

Cannon Mountain

Cannon Mountain | Rudi Riet / photo modified

Just driving through Franconia Notch and getting the first glimpse of the trails dropping along the sheer face of Cannon Mountain is intimidating to all but the bravest of skiers. Fortunately for others, there's a kinder, gentler side to this state-owned ski area. But it's still a mountain that inspires respect, with some of the White Mountains' steepest and most challenging terrain. Olympic Gold Medalist Bode Miller grew up in the nearby town of Franconia and learned to ski here.

Newly increased snowmaking adds to the high natural snowfall attracted by Cannon Mountain's 4,080-foot elevation. The 81 trails are accessed by 10 lifts and the 80-passenger Aerial Tramway, a cable car that takes about 10 minutes to reach the summit, where you can enjoy views of four states. Along with the steep main slopes, the Tuckerbrook Family Area is on the gentler side.

Address: Franconia Notch Parkway, Franconia, New Hampshire

Official site: http://cannonmt.com

15. Smugglers' Notch, Vermont

Smugglers' Notch, Vermont

Smugglers' Notch, Vermont | Robbie Shade / photo modified

Consistently rated as the #1 Kid-Friendly Resort in the East by readers of SKI Magazine, Smugglers' Notch knows how to please kids of all ages, and their families. Self-contained and set deep in a northern Vermont valley on a road that closes in the winter just beyond the resort, there is an air of pampered seclusion here that reassures parents and makes the whole resort seem like one big playground.

Teens have their own dedicated (and supervised) club; tots have a slope-side nursery; and everyone can roast marshmallows around the daily après-ski bonfire and play in the indoor FunZone, with climbing inflatables and an indoor pool.

Children as young as two-and-a-half years can take ski lessons, and a specially sculpted learning area makes it easier for new skiers to gain skills quickly. Canopy tours on the ArborTrek Zip Line and frequent guided snowshoe nature hikes keep non-skiers busy.

"Smuggs" isn't just for kids. With a vertical drop of 2,610 feet, the 360 skiable acres across three mountains include 40 intermediate trails and 25 for experts, in addition to all the beginner areas. Access to trails is direct from most of the slope-side condos you can stay in at Smugglers' Notch Resort. The remote northern location of Smugglers' Notch doesn't mean it's hard to reach - because of its proximity to Burlington, it is the closest full-service ski resort in Vermont to a commercial airport.

Address: 4323 Vermont Route 108 South, Smugglers' Notch, Vermont

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Smugglers' Notch

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

Ski New Hampshire: Learn about more ski mountains in the White Mountains and southern part of the state in our article Top-Rated Ski Resorts in New Hampshire.

Ski Vermont: Right next to New Hampshire, Vermont's Green Mountains also provide plenty of skiing. Learn about Vermont's resorts in our article Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Vermont.

Ski the West: The lofty peaks of the American west are renowned for their ski resorts. Read about them in our articles: Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Utah, Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Colorado, and Best Ski Resorts in California.

Discover destinations, find outdoor adventures, follow the journeys of our travel writers around the world, and be inspired.

More on Vermont