17 Top-Rated Ski Resorts on the East Coast, 2023/24

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers and Stillman Rogers
Updated Jan 2, 2024
We may earn a commission from affiliate links ()

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 and at Whiteface Mountain in New York.

Ski resort in New Hampshire
Ski resort in New Hampshire

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 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.

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 location, cost, and the variety and quality of the ski experience for all ranges of skiers. Explore your options with our list of the best ski resorts on the East Coast.

1. Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, New Hampshire

Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, New Hampshire
Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, New Hampshire | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

A few miles north of North Conway, Bretton Woods Resort is a large, upscale ski resort complex, catering to 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, the largest ski resort in New Hampshire.

Its northern location and exposure and 92 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. State-of-the-art grooming combine with location and the number of trail options to give Bretton Woods some of the best skiing in the Northeast. Its accessible location only 14 miles from Interstate-93 is an added plus.

Bretton Woods has New Hampshire's first eight-person gondola, which travels the 6,000 feet to the summit at a speed of 1,200 feet per minute. 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 Nordic ski center for some of the best cross-country skiing in New Hampshire.

Address: Route 302, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

2. Killington, Vermont

Killington, Vermont
Killington, Vermont

Its long reputation as a party mountain has made Killington 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 beyond the famed mogul-studded slopes, there is plenty for intermediates (53 trails), 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. This variety of experience makes Killington a good choice for families with mixed ages and skills.

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. The resort is known for spring skiing that sometimes lasts into June.

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

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. Stowe Mountain Resort opened one of the first chairlifts in the world, which 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.

Stowe's snow record is one of the best in the East, with an annual snowfall of 314 inches; that said, it's also the most expensive ski resort in the East. Luckily, with its acquisition by Vail, it's now included in the Epic Pass network that includes Okemo and Mount Snow in Vermont, as well as several ski resorts in New Hampshire.

The former triple Mountain Lift has been replaced this season with a high-speed six-pack that doubles the uphill capacity. This new lift gives beginner and intermediate skiers better access to terrain, and its extended length means there is no longer a steep hike to the base of the lift.

The recently added on-mountain Kids Adventure Zones offer 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.

New hands-free scanning means that skiers and riders will automatically be scanned when loading the lift. Like all Vail Resorts, Stowe will be limiting ticket sales this season to avoid overcrowding, so to be sure of a ticket, reserve in advance.

Be aware that Vail Resorts has imposed a $30 fee for parking in the lots close to the base, adding to the cost of a day's skiing.

Address: 5781 Mountain Road, Stowe, Vermont

4. Jay Peak Resort, 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.

Offering the finest tree skiing anywhere in the East, 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, but it does not have much groomed cruising terrain.

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 a spa, ice-skating, and sleigh rides, along with a wide choice of lodging and dining. Along with its wide range of terrain for all skill levels, families love the full-sized indoor water park at the base, a favorite for kids, non-skiers and après ski.

Address: 830 Jay Peak Road, Jay, Vermont

5. Sugarloaf, Maine

Sugarloaf, Maine
Sugarloaf, Maine | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

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.

It's also the second-largest ski area in the east, with 1,240 acres of developed terrain and 2,820 feet of continuous vertical, 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.

Sugarloaf continues to expand and will include 120 acres of new trails across more than 450 acres. A Doppelmayr high-speed quad is being installed to serve the area and is expected to be operational by late in the 2024 season. Supplementing the natural snow in the new terrain are 246 high-efficiency snowmaking guns, and over 88,000 feet of new snowmaking pipe.

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

6. 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.

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 and all Vail Resorts will be limiting ticket sales this season to avoid overcrowding. To be sure of a ticket, reserve in advance.

Two new high-speed chairlifts, one a bubble quad lift and the other a six-pack, that were installed for the 2021/2022 season have improved access to the entire mountain terrain, especially for those staying at the Jackson Gore base area. These have also relieved congestion at the Clock Tower base, providing faster access to the summit on the Sunburst Six, a bubble six-pack with heated seats.

A covered skating rink, full-service spa, indoor and outdoor pools, a tubing hill, the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster, and snowcat excursions combine with skiing to give Okemo a visitor experience that few resorts can match.

Address: 77 Okemo Ridge Road, Ludlow, Vermont

7. Loon Mountain Resort, New Hampshire

Loon Mountain, New Hampshire
Loon Mountain, New Hampshire | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

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 Loon Mountain Gondola carries skiers to the summit, and the Kancamagus 8 is an eight-seat chair with ergonomically shaped heated seats and a tinted bubble. This season's South Peak expansion increases the skiable terrain to more than 400 acres, adding 11 trails and a quad chairlift. The 30 acres of new terrain includes two tree-skiing glades rated for beginner and intermediate skiers. More than half of the new terrain is rated green, making Loon even more appealing for families.

The Mountain Club on Loon, right at the base 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 well arranged to make slope access easy for arriving skiers laden with equipment. An open train shuttles skiers and equipment from the parking area to the base of the lifts, and RFID ticketing with electronic scanning gates help speed skiers to the slopes.

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. Loon Mountain Resort is a five-minute drive from the town of Lincoln, filled with dining, shopping and entertainment options.

Address: 60 Loon Mountain Road, Lincoln, New Hampshire

8. Sugarbush/Mad River Glen, Vermont

Sugarbush, Vermont
Sugarbush, Vermont

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.

Snowmaking upgrades for this season, included $3 million for enhanced snowmaking on Mt. Ellen. Part of a three-year program, these include energy-efficient upgrades to Northstar, Inverness, and the Summit Quad terrain.

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.

Mad River Glen is a legend, with its "Ski it if You Can" bumper stickers, and one of the last places where you can ski on trails cut to follow the mountain's natural contours for the entire 2,037-foot vertical. For skiers only, Mad River Glen prohibits snowboards.

Address: 1840 Sugarbush Access Road, Warren, Vermont

9. Stratton Mountain, Vermont

Stratton Mountain, Vermont
Stratton Mountain, Vermont | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

Fast lifts and good snow conditions make Stratton Mountain 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 99 trails and 160 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. A large park on Big Ben, in the Sun Bowl area, features rails, jump lines, and a halfpipe.

Stratton's new Snow Bowl Express has cut ride time to the summit dramatically, making the legendary World Cup and tree-lined Drifter trails easier to reach, as well as the three-mile beginner run from the top of the mountain to the base.

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, although the resort is more attuned to those staying here than it is to day skiers. Winter sports include tubing, ice-skating, sleigh rides, and dogsled tours.

Outdoor seating areas with heat lamps are being added, and restaurants and cafés in the resort village have added outdoor seating as well. Stratton is part of the Ikon Pass system.

Manchester, with its variety of restaurants and upscale-brand outlets is nearby.

Address: 5 Village Lodge Road, Stratton Mountain, Vermont

10. Mount Snow, Vermont

Mount Snow, Vermont
Mount Snow, Vermont

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. Two new lifts have increased capacity to get skiers onto the slopes faster. Opened last season, a new high-speed quad replaced the Sunbrook Quad, cutting the ride time by one-third and making it easier to access the Sunbrook terrain. A new high-speed six-pack has replaced the Tumbleweed and Sundance triples, increasing uphill capacity by almost 70 percent.

Of the 80 trails, 54 are for intermediate skiers, with 12 for beginners and 14 for experts, including one double black diamond, the Rip Cord. The North Face also includes several ungroomed trails for purists. 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.

In late 2019, Mount Snow was acquired by Vail, bringing it into the Epic Pass family, where it joins Okemo and Stowe, as well as several New Hampshire mountains. Vail Resorts will be limiting ticket sales this season to avoid overcrowding, so to be sure of a ticket, reserve in advance.

Address: 39 Mount Snow Road, West Dover, Vermont

11. Cranmore Mountain Resort, North Conway, New Hampshire

Cranmore Mountain, New Hampshire
Cranmore Mountain, New Hampshire | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

Ski with history at this mountain that was one of the first recreational ski resorts, dating from the 1930s, when Ski Trains brought enthusiasts to Cranmore 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 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.

The new Fairbanks Lodge is fully open this season, replacing the previous crowded base lodge with 30,000 square feet of services and boot-up space. Along with expanded space for day skiers and an expansive deck area, it features a much larger food pavilion, retail ski shops, restrooms and locker rooms. The Mountain Adventure and Tubing Park also sees a new two-story base lodge opening for this season, including a new dining facility.

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

12. Mt. Sunapee, New Hampshire

Mount Sunapee
Mount Sunapee | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

Consistently named one of New England's top ski resorts for snowmaking and grooming, Mount Sunapee is one of the closest major mountains to Boston, only 90 minutes away. The 66 trails are served by 10 lifts, including two high-speed quads to the summit, one of which takes only about four minutes to the summit.

A dedicated triple chair takes snowboarders to the top of Bob Skinner's 603 Terrain Park, with 50 terrain features and a 4,000-watt sound system. Improving on its already top-quality snowmaking and grooming, Sunapee is adding more upgrades as part of the multi-million-dollar investment by Vail, which acquired Mount Sunapee in late 2018.

With the Vail affiliation, they are now among the mountains served by the various money-saving Epic Pass options. Vail Resorts will be limiting ticket sales at Mount Sunapee this season to avoid overcrowding, so to be sure of a ticket, reserve in advance.

Address: Route 103, Newbury, New Hampshire

13. Attitash Mountain Resort, New Hampshire

Attitash Mountain
Attitash Mountain | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

In New Hampshire's White Mountains, about halfway between North Conway and Bretton Woods, Attitash Mountain is in the heart of ski country. It covers two connected mountains with 68 trails, one of which, The Ledges, is the steepest in the state. That trail, alpine race trails, and more than 60 acres of glades make it popular with experts, but beginning skiers are well-served with free skiing in the Learning Terrain area and rides on the surface lifts at the base of Attitash or Bear Peak.

Acquisition by Vail resorts brought Attitash into the Epic Pass system, with several options that include nearby Wildcat and Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire and several more in Vermont. Vail has committed to investments in infrastructure at Attitash within the next few seasons.

Following on last year's replacement of the East and West Double-Double with the Progression quad, in December 2023, the new Mountaineer replaced the Summit Triple. The resort's longest lift, the high-speed 4-passenger chairlift cuts ride time in half, increases capacity, and improves the flow of skiers at the base.

Vail Resorts will be limiting ticket sales at Attitash and other Vail mountains this season to avoid overcrowding, so to be sure of a ticket, reserve in advance.

Address: Route 302, Bartlett, New Hampshire

14. 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.

Gore Mountain is 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 four high-speed quads.

Two new quad lifts were added last winter, one of which takes skiers to Gore's true summit, opening up fresh access to all four peaks. This season, a new 60-foot wide intermediate trail with grooming and snowmaking will enter near the top of the Burnt Ridge Quad and end at the bottom of The Pipeline, making access to Little Gore Mountain and the Ski Bowl easier.

"Pete's Paradise" offers family-friendly adventures for beginning skiers, and the learning area has been improved.

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

15. Whiteface Mountain, New York

Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain

With 3,429 feet of vertical drop, the second-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. This weather means, however, that those bluebird sky days are rare; clouds tend to hang over the mountain, and its upper reaches are known for the icy winds that have earned it the nickname of Iceface Mountain.

You won't find more challenging skiing at any resort in the East; the double-black terrain of The Slides offers 35 acres of wilderness skiing with dense glades and steep chutes. Although 38 percent of the terrain is for experts, Whiteface has terrain for less experienced skiers, too, with beginner trails accounting for 20 percent of the runs and a dedicated beginner area; 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.

Along with adding a new beginner trail off the Warhorse Quad, Whiteface has been busy installing 35,000 more feet of new snowmaking pipe and 160 new low-energy snow guns to boost snowmaking for the 2022-2023 season.

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. While there are plenty of entertainment, dining, and tourist facilities in Lake Placid, there are none at the base of the mountain.

16. Smugglers' Notch, Vermont

Smuggler's Notch
Smuggler's Notch | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

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. A specially sculpted learning area makes it easier for new skiers to gain skills quickly.

"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

17. Gunstock Mountain

Gunstock Mountain
Gunstock Mountain

The closest major ski area to Boston, with easy access from both I-93 and I-95, Gunstock Mountain is both family friendly and budget friendly, with lower lift rates than most and a money-saving Flex Pass, offering a 50 percent discount on primetime and night lift tickets for the entire season.

Snowmaking covers 90% of its 49 trails, which are well divided among the skill levels, and 21 of them are well-lighted for night skiing. Five lifts serve these trails Tuesday through Saturday nights from late December through late March.

In addition to skiing and riding, Gunstock has a tubing park and one of the nation's longest ziplines; a Mountain Coaster operates on weekends and holidays.

The learning program is outstanding, and learners will appreciate the separate area dedicated to them, where they can perfect their skills without other trails passing through it. Less experienced skiers will also find a green trail from the summit, so they can enjoy the panoramic views of New Hampshire's largest lake, spreading below.

In the past three years, Gunstock has spent in excess of $1 million on improvements, adding more high-efficiency snowmaking equipment and groomers, enhancing the Terrain and Freestyle Park. A new rental building and tuning shop is under construction near the learning center, streamlining the rental process.

Although there is no on-mountain lodging, The Summit Resort, six miles away in Laconia, has an indoor pool and family-sized rooms.

Address: 719 Cherry Valley Road (off Route 11-A), Gilford, New Hampshire

Best Ski Resorts in the Southeast

Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia
Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia

New England and New York may come to mind first when most people dream of a ski vacation, but those who live in the southeast have plenty of choices, too. Some of the mountains may not have the vertical of northern peaks, and winter weather may not be as co-operative, but that doesn't stop these resorts from offering plenty of good skiing closer to home.

Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia

Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia
Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia

More than 60 trails spread across three separate areas, Snowshoe Mountain offers a lot of skiing and verticals as great as 1,500 feet. Its nearly 5,000-foot elevation is a magnet for snow, which amounts to about 15 feet annually, and is supplemented with state-of-the-art snowmaking and grooming.

About one fourth of the trails are graded for experts, who should head for the steeps in the Western Territory area. For mellow cruisers, ski the gentler slopes of Snowshoe Basin. Snowshoe Mountain is part of the Ikon Pass system.

Address: 10 Snowshoe Drive, Snowshoe, West Virginia

Read More: Best Ski Resorts in West Virginia

Sugar Mountain Ski Resort, North Carolina

Sugar Mountain Ski Resort, North Carolina
Sugar Mountain Ski Resort, North Carolina

The 21 runs at Sugar Mountain cover 1,200 feet of vertical, offering terrain for all levels of skiers and boarders, with a season that usually extends from mid-November through mid-March. Experienced skiers will find the state's steepest runs here, including the Whoopdeedoo and Boulderdash runs, each with a 48-degree pitch.

Just over half the trails are for intermediate skiers and one-third for beginners. Five chairlifts and two surface lifts include two Magic Carpets and a handle tow lift in the terrain park. Sugar Mountain also has a tubing park with a Magic Carpet. Lift capacity has been boosted this season with the addition of a four-person high-speed chairlift, Oma's Express.

This is just one of several ski resorts in North Carolina. Nearby is Beech Mountain Ski Resort, another great option. If you base yourself in the town of Banner Elk, both of these ski resorts are just 10 minutes away.

Address: 1009 Sugar Mountain Dr, Sugar Mountain, North Carolina

Best Ski Resorts for Experts

An expert skier in East Coast powder
An expert skier in East Coast powder

All the mountains described above have terrain that will challenge expert skiers. Of them, Whiteface Mountain in New York has the most challenging in the East, with expert technical terrain that has twice been chosen to host the Winter Olympics. But these other ski resorts are also favorites of experienced skiers and snowboarders who like a variety of real challenges.

Wildcat Mountain, New Hampshire: In addition to some of the most challenging terrain in the East, skiers at Wildcat also get one of the most breathtaking views. On a clear day, skiers at the top of Wildcat's gondola stand almost eye-to-eye with the rime-coated summit of Mt. Washington, the Northeast's tallest mountain. A note of caution for less experienced skiers: although the Polecat trail from the top is rated green, it has sections that any other mountain would label intermediate.

Wildcat usually gets the highest annual snowfall in the area, with an average 200 inches of natural snow blanketing its bumps and glades. Ninety percent of its 49 trails also have snowmaking coverage. With its acquisition by Vail in late 2019, Wildcat will see major investment in facilities, and is now part of Vail's Epic Pass system.

Vail Resorts will be limiting ticket sales this season to avoid overcrowding, so to be sure of a ticket, reserve in advance.

Address: Route 16, Gorham, New Hampshire

Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire: The first glimpse of the trails dropping along the sheer face of Cannon Mountain is intimidating to all but the bravest of skiers. Although there's a gentler side to this state-owned ski area, it's still a mountain that inspires respect, with some of the White Mountains' steepest and most challenging terrain. Olympic Gold Medalist Bode Miller learned to ski here.

Address: Franconia Notch Parkway, Franconia, New Hampshire

Best Ski Resorts for Families

King Pine Ski Area, New Hampshire
King Pine Ski Area, New Hampshire | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers

Although all the mountains listed here have facilities for children and beginning skiers — learning programs, child-friendly lifts, and beginner slopes — some cater especially to families, with extra attention to young skiers, and trails in all skill levels for experienced adults and snowboarding teens as well.

King Pine, New Hampshire: With something for everybody — even those who don't ski — this little resort in the White Mountains may not have much altitude but it has one of the steepest trails in the state, along with its beautiful trails winding through pine woods.

King Pine is part of Purity Spring Resort, an old-fashioned, family-oriented resort with cross-country trails, a tubing hill, ice skating, and night skiing, along with an inn and cottages. The terrain park challenges boarders, and tree skiing is extended each season. At its busiest, lines are short and the atmosphere friendly.

Address: East Madison, New Hampshire

Butternut, Massachusetts: Deep in the rolling Berkshire hills, Butternut has 1,000 feet of vertical, and its trails descend from a ridge that stretches for more than a half mile through state forest.

An easy cross-mountain trail makes easy access from one side of the mountain to the other, and with 22 trails and 100 percent snow making, it's a great family mountain. There's a tubing hill; a low-key base area; and budget-friendly packages that include lifts, rentals, and lessons.

Address: 380 State Road, Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Official site: https://skibutternut.com

Camelback Mountain, Pennsylvania: In the Poconos, less than two hours from New York City, Camelback Mountain Resort has more than 30 trails for beginning and intermediate skiers and boarders, as well as half- and full-day lesson packages. Along with skiing and boarding terrain, Camelback has a lot of off-slope activities: a tubing hill, mountain coaster, zipline, and full-scale water park.

Address: 301 Resort Drive, Tannersville, Pennsylvania

Hunter Mountain, New York: Augmenting the natural snow in the Catskills, Hunter Mountain covers 100 percent of its 58 trails and slopes with snowmaking and caters especially to families with beginning skiers and snowboarders. The Learning Center teaches children aged four and older to ski and board. A tubing hill and zipline round out the activities.

Address: 64 Klein Ave, Hunter, New York

Map of Ski Resorts on the East Coast

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com


Ski New Hampshire and Vermont: 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. 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. Less than an hour from Salt Lake City are some of the best ski resorts in Utah. In Colorado you can find some of the best skiing in North America. Use our guide to the best ski resorts in Colorado to point you in the right direction. And don't forget about the ski resorts in California.