12 Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Vermont, 2020
Skiing in Vermont is legendary. With as much as 25 feet of natural snow each winter and state-of-the-art snowmaking and grooming equipment, conditions are dependable; many resorts open in late November and don't close until mid-April.
The resort complexes that have grown around these mountains match the skiing, with luxury lodging, fine dining, and spas, as well as more basic accommodations for skiers on a budget. In fact, most of these are year-round resorts with such excellent facilities that they have become tourist attractions in their own right. All offer the basics of a family ski vacation for all skill levels, including rental equipment and lessons.
Although eastern skiing may not offer the high altitudes and long runs of the Rockies and other western ski mountains, it offers plenty of terrain to challenge expert skiers and boarders. Vermont produces more Winter Olympians per capita than any other state, so there must be plenty of opportunity there to perfect those world-class turns. Find the best places to hit the slopes with our list of the top ski resorts in Vermont.
1. Okemo Mountain Resort
Known for its constant updating and for the extent and quality of its on- and off-slope facilities, Okemo Mountain Resort consistently earns top awards and ratings for snow quality and grooming, terrain parks, family programs, resort dining, and customer service. All this, combined with its size, variety of terrain, and easy-to-reach location in south-central Vermont, makes it appeal equally to serious skiers, occasional skiers, and families seeking a winter vacation.
Okemo's 121 trails across 655 acres are evenly divided for varying abilities, with an added dozen glades for experienced skiers who like tree-studded terrain. The East's longest superpipe and seven of the most innovative terrain parks in the East keep boarders coming back.
A full 98 percent of the skiable terrain is covered by state-of-the-art snowmaking to supplement the average 16 feet of natural snow, a feature that Okemo has been lauded for repeatedly in national awards. Between nature, snowmaking, and grooming, Okemo consistently maintains some of the best ski conditions in the east.
The final 5,000 feet of pipe have been installed to complete a five-year project to replace all the main feeds to the snowmaking system. This season will introduce new Ski & Snowboard School options that include a half-day and full-day family lesson.
It has consistently led in environmentally sound development, especially in its snowmaking and in powering its lifts. Okemo installed the East's first bubble-covered six-seater lift with heated seats, the Sunburst Six. This not only speeded and improved the ride to the Summit Lodge but it is also more energy efficient, with the drive mechanism at the top pulling the chairs rather than pushing them as conventional lifts do. In addition, there are four high-speed quads, four traditional quads, three triple lifts, and seven surface lifts.
Okemo also excels at the off-slope facilities, with two base areas connected by lifts and trails, a full-service luxury resort hotel, condos, prize-winning fine and casual dining, a spa with fitness facilities, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a tubing hill, the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster, snow-cat excursions, cross-country skiing, fat-bike rentals and trails, snowshoeing, and a covered skating rink with an NHL-grade cooling system that was added last year. The resort is well known for its dining options, and major improvements to the Summit Lodge for this season have upgraded the experience there to include healthy grab-and-go options, as well as Carolina-style barbecue.
Okemo became an Epic Resort when it was acquired by Vail Resorts in late 2018, so along with its inclusion in the money-saving Epic Pass, you can look forward to a major investment in even more new and upgraded facilities to keep Okemo the top ski area in the east.
Okemo is also a partner in the new Northeast College Pass with unlimited access to Okemo and Mount Sunapee, in New Hampshire, as well as Stowe with some holiday restrictions. Luxury lodging at the full-service Jackson Gore Inn and condo units at Mountain Lodge at Okemo are both right at the base of the slopes, within sight of the lifts.
Address: 77 Okemo Ridge Road, Ludlow, Vermont
Official site: https://www.okemo.com
2. Stowe Mountain Resort
Vermont's tallest peak, Mt. Mansfield, and neighboring Spruce Peak are in the heart of the state's snow belt and have made Stowe's name almost synonymous with New England skiing.
One of the country's earliest ski resort towns, Stowe was already popular in 1937, when one of the world's first chairlifts was installed here. Stowe now carries skiers to trails via two gondolas (one of which connects the two mountains), three high-speed quads, three conventional quads, two triples, and three double chairlifts. More than half the 116 trails are for intermediates, with 29 for experts and 19 for beginners. Three terrain parks challenge boarders.
Recent additions include on-mountain Kids Adventure Zones with gentle slopes and freestyle terrain that was purpose-built for learning. Acquired by Vail in 2018, Stowe is now part of Vail's Epic Pass network that includes Okemo and Mount Snow in Vermont, as well as several ski resorts in New Hampshire.
Luxury lodging, a spa with a heated outdoor pool, and an art center make up the slope-side resort of Stowe Mountain Lodge, opposite the base of Mt. Mansfield and connected by a free cross-mountain gondola. Along with the base village dining options, this year sees the completion of Maple Waffle Café inside the Gondola summit shelter.
The entire length of Mountain Road between the mountain and the village is lined with country inns, luxury resorts, and restaurants. Topnotch Resort & Spa, close to the base of the ski area, is a full-service resort with a fine-dining restaurant. Part of Stowe's appeal is the village itself, looking like it was posing for a Christmas card in its blanket of snow.
Stowe offers several things to do in the winter besides skiing: sleigh rides, a ski museum and an arts center, as well as many crafts and art galleries.
Stretching toward the mountains from town is the Stowe Recreation Path, popular with cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Stowe offers several things to do in the winter besides outdoor sports: you can shop in its many crafts and art galleries, visit the Helen Day Arts Center, and learn about Stowe's and New England's ski history at the Vermont Ski Museum. Twilight dogsledding tours, sleigh rides, and snowmobile tours through the Mt. Mansfield State Forest are some of the other winter options in Stowe.
Address: 5781 Mountain Road, Stowe, Vermont
Official site: https://www.stowe.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Stowe
3. Jay Peak
Only five miles south of the US-Canadian border, Jay Peak is the farthest north of Vermont's ski resorts and gets the most natural snowfall of any in the East. This location and the snow-making capacity over 80 percent of its 385 skiable acres allow the resort to offer skiing from mid-November through mid-May.
Jay's 78 trails and slopes include 24 glades, several of which, Moonwalk Woods, Bushwacker, and Kokomo among them, are designed for novice skiers. In all, 15 trails are for beginners, 30 for intermediate, and 31 for experts. But for many experts, the appeal of Jay is its backcountry skiing.
Vermont's only aerial tramway carries up to 60 people from the base to the 3,968-foot summit, bringing the mountain's total lift capacity to more than 12,000 skiers per hour. Many of the skiers at Jay are from Montreal and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, giving the entire resort a French-Canadian flavor. You'll hear as much or more French spoken here as English.
The full-service resort at the base of the mountain has plenty of lodging in all price ranges, as well as dining, a spa, ice-skating, and sleigh rides. Jay Peak Resort and The Tram Haus Lodge are at the foot of the mountain with covered access to the indoor water park, where kids spend their après-ski hours at the Lazy River, three water slides, surfing pool, or rock-climbing area. The economy-minded Jay Village Inn, across from the village store, has a cozy ski-lodge atmosphere and a good restaurant.
Address: 830 Jay Peak Road, Jay, Vermont
Official site: https://jaypeakresort.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay at Jay Peak
4. Stratton Mountain
Southern Vermont's highest peak at 3,875 feet, Stratton Mountain is known for its fast lifts, the variety of its terrain, and the consistent high quality of its snow. Adding to 97 trails are more than 100 acres of glades and five terrain parks.
Although Stratton offers a higher percentage of easy beginners' trails (41), there is plenty of choice for more experienced skiers and boarders, with 31 intermediate and 28 rated for experts. Lifts include a gondola, four six-packs, three quad lifts, a triple, a double, and one surface lift.
Completion last winter of the Snow Bowl Express cut ride time to the summit dramatically, creating quick access to terrain that varies from the legendary World Cup and tree-lined Drifter trails to a three-mile beginner run from the top of the mountain.
Boarders rate Stratton especially high for their variety of parks for all skill levels, from the Progression Park, designed for learning, to East Byrnes Side, a top-to-bottom boardercross course, designed with the help of Olympic medalists. Stratton's self-contained slopeside complex has the look of an Alpine ski village, and its off-slope facilities include a spa, fitness center, and dining.
Stratton offers other winter outdoor activities, including tubing, ice skating, sleigh rides, and 90-minute dogsled tours through the scenic valley. Its proximity to Manchester means access to a wide variety of lodging, dining, and diversions.
Stratton is better designed for those staying at the resort than for day skiers, with limited boot-up space and a long climb from the parking areas. Long Trail House, an easy walk from the ski area, has hot tubs and a sauna and is good value compared to other Village options, especially with the midweek packages that Stratton offers. Twelve miles away on the main road, the popular Manchester View is also good value with well-kept motel-style rooms and family suites.
Address: 5 Village Lodge Road, Stratton Mountain, Vermont
Official site: https://www.stratton.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay at Stratton Mountain
With the most skiable terrain in Vermont and one of New England's biggest après-ski scenes, Killington appeals to a younger crowd of boarders and skiers. Its 155 trails include more expert terrain than any other mountain, with 60 trails and 16 glades, but intermediate and beginning skiers have a lot to choose from, with 53 and 43 trails respectively.
Its sheer size allows Killington to offer a wide variety of ski styles, as well, with old-fashioned narrow trails that wind through the woods, wide-open cruising trails, mogul faces, and steep drops.
The choices for snowboarders and freeskiers are just as varied, with six terrain parks, including The Stash, an all-natural park with more than 50 features. The Superpipe is 500 feet long with 18-foot walls.
All this is served by 22 lifts, two of which are express gondolas. A new six-person, high-speed bubble chairlift for the 2018-2019 season made the ride up Snowdon Mountain a lot faster and more comfortable, and this season sees a new North Ridge Quad Chairlift to replace the old triple, as well as new low-energy tower guns and a new K-1 Base Lodge that's 50 percent larger.
Throughout the ski season there is something happening at Killington every weekend, with festivals, bands, and on- and off-slope competitions and events. The entire access road is lined with dining and entertainment venues. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors as well, with snowmobile tours, sleigh rides, tubing, and dogsledding nearby.
Traditionalists may prefer the somewhat old-fashioned, laid-back charm of adjacent Pico Mountain, whose vertical drop of 1,967 feet is one of Vermont's highest. Pico continues a multi-year program of major upgrades to its snowmaking system.
Along with the restaurants and après-ski places that line Killington Access Road are the large Killington Mountain Lodge, with an indoor pool, and Birch Ridge Inn, close to the ski area and with an included breakfast and in-house restaurant.
Address: 4763 Killington Road, Killington, Vermont
Official site: https://www.killington.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Killington
6. Mount Snow
Not the largest of Vermont's ski areas, Mount Snow is one of the most popular, largely due to its excellent snowmaking and its location as the closest major ski resort to many of the Northeast's metropolitan areas. As a result, Mount Snow is sometimes the victim of its own success, criticized for crowding on weekends and vacation weeks.
But 20 lifts, ranging from five surface lifts for beginners to three high-speed quads and the Bluebird Express—the first six-passenger bubble lift in the East—keep lines moving quickly, and 80 trails networked over 588 acres give skiers plenty of snow space. These are mainly for intermediate skiers, who can choose from 54 trails; 12 are for rated for beginners and 14 for experts. Boarding is big, with 10 terrain parks and a halfpipe.
One attractive feature is that different skiing abilities have fairly separate areas of the mountain. In addition to the slow ski zone that includes the beginner area, the Long John/Little John trail from the peak allows novices the thrill of skiing from the top. The main face of the mountain is filled with enough intermediate trails and slopes to fill a day's skiing, and the Sunbrook area on the back of the main mountain (where 7.2 acres of new snowmaking has been added for this season), is also intermediate territory served by its own lift. The North Face, with 10 expert trails and one double-black, is served by a pair of triple chairlifts.
Mount Snow's southern setting made snowmaking an early priority, and its more than 250 high-output fan guns are the most of any North American ski resort. A $30 million snowmaking project has increased capabilities even more, and newer low-energy snow guns make it one of the industry's most energy-efficient resorts.
Last year saw a brand-new $22 million Carinthia Base Lodge at the base of the terrain park, with a coffee bar, sit-down restaurant, a large cafeteria, rentals, and ski school. For this season, an additional 9.8 acres of snowmaking at Corinthia allows adding a small terrain part for beginners and intermediates. 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.
Both luxury and budget-friendly lodgings are at the base area, and the moderately priced Inn at Mount Snow, a bed-and-breakfast with family rooms, has a shuttle to the base lodge. Gray Ghost Inn on Rte 100 near the base of the mountain offers family rooms, which include a cooked breakfast.
Address: 39 Mount Snow Road, West Dover, Vermont
Official site: https://www.mountsnow.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Mount Snow Valley
Sugarbush, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, made its name in the 1960s as the home of the "Jet Set"—a term that may have originated here—but its two mountains of trails and 2,000 acres of backcountry kept it in the A-list for serious skiers.
More than half its 111 trails are for intermediate skiers, but experts can test their skills on 36 trails and 21 glades, and 24 trails are rated for beginners. The Mt. Ellen trails and glades are reached by Vermont's highest chairlift. At the base of Lincoln Peak is a full-service resort village, with a luxury hotel, condos, spa, a store, and the usual foot-of-the-mountain services.
Although the jet-setters have flown on, Sugarbush still has a lively après-ski life with both fine and casual dining. The East's only CAT skiing experience offers a few skiers access to first tracks on fresh powder mornings or spring skiing on Mt. Ellen. Snowboarders have three terrain parks and a half-pipe.
There is a variety of luxury lodging at the purpose-built base village, which has seen some upgrades this year, or for more budget-friendly accommodations try The Warren Lodge on Rte 100, right opposite Sugarbush access Road.
Address: 1840 Sugarbush Access Road, Warren, Vermont
Official site: https://www.sugarbush.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Mad River Valley
8. Smugglers' Notch
Few ski resorts do as good a job of pleasing kids as "Smuggs," a self-contained destination resort close to Burlington. Its abundance of family-friendly facilities include a dedicated—and supervised—teen club; the indoor FunZone with climbing inflatables, an indoor pool, a slope-side nursery, and a whole series of innovative age-appropriate ski classes; and programs for children as young as two-and-a-half-years old.
Snow Sport University has expanded its learning program this season to include not just skiing technique, but selecting appropriate equipment and the ability to "read" the terrain and changing snow conditions. These have earned it the title of #1 Kid-Friendly Resort in the East by readers of SKI Magazine.
Bonfires and roasting marshmallows at the base area begin each day as the lifts close, and there are torchlight parades down the slopes, fireworks, and evening activities that give parents a chance to enjoy the resort's dining options. The ArborTrek Zip Line offers canopy tours, and there are frequent guided snowshoe nature hikes. Slope-side condos are designed with families in mind.
But don't think Smugglers' Notch caters only to small-fry. Skiing and riding on three mountains offers 40 intermediate trails and 25 for experts, and its 360 skiable acres cover a vertical drop of 2,610 feet. New for this season is the banked slalom course on Madonna Mountain, which gives intermediates and experts more opportunities; it will be used for lessons, but also open to independent skiing. Also new are Fat Bike rentals and winter access to Smuggs' expansive MTB terrain; bike-specific winter events are planned.
Although it's farther north than many, it is Vermont's closest major ski resort to a commercial airport.
Address: 4323 Vermont Route 108 South, Smugglers' Notch, Vermont
Official site: https://www.smuggs.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Smugglers' Notch
9. Bromley Mountain Resort
Always ranking high in awards for family-friendly ski mountains, Bromley may not be the biggest, but it's one of the most user-friendly of ski resorts. Unlike most ski areas, Bromley's slopes and trails face south, which in winter translates to sunny slopes and trails throughout the day.
Bromley opened in the earliest days of recreational skiing, in 1937, and claims its place in ski history as one of the first places to adapt the terrain to skiing, as well as one of the first to introduce grooming. They still excel at taking care of the snow. The trails are spread almost evenly between those rated for beginners, intermediates, and expert skiers.
The mountain is known for its ski and boarding instruction for both children and adults. Bromley uses the innovative Terrain Based learning technique, which usually has learners skiing independently the first day. New terrain park features this year are designed for a variety of abilities, from green to black, aiming to create one of the state's best family-friendly progression parks.
Bromley is very well designed for day skiers. In addition to plenty of hotels, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts in and around Manchester, the Lodge at Bromley is right at the base for ski-in/ski-out lodging. The budget-friendly Four Winds Country Motel in Manchester has large rooms and serves a complimentary breakfast.
Address: Vermont Route 11, Peru, Vermont
Official site: https://www.bromley.com
10. Bolton Valley
The compact Alpine-style village and warm family-friendly atmosphere at Bolton Valley makes it seem smaller than its 71 trails spread over 300 skiable acres. Set in the Green Mountains not far from Burlington and close to I-89, Bolton seems a world apart, surrounded by more than 5,000 acres of undeveloped forest.
Trails are almost evenly split between beginner, expert, and intermediate, plus there are 13 glades and three terrain parks. Bolton's award-winning environmental initiatives include energy efficient HKD snow guns to augment the mountain's annual average of 312 feet of natural snow. Bolton is one of only two ski resorts in the United States to use wind power as an energy source.
Along with skiing and snowboarding, this self-contained resort offers 62 miles of Nordic and backcountry trails, snowshoeing, and lighted trails for night skiing. This season's complete replacement of all the lights and installing 150 high efficiency LED lights has upgraded the night skiing, especially on the slalom course. The Bolton Valley indoor skate and bike park is also fully operational for the start of this season.
A variety of lodging options are right in the base area, either ski-in/ski-out or within a short walk of the lifts. The Inn at Bolton Valley has simple rooms and suites, with well-outfitted kitchens in the base lodge area with access to a sports center. Lotus Mountain Retreat is a wellness-focused lodge close to the slopes, with an organic vegetarian cafe, sauna, hot tub, and Yoga studio with classes. The base village also includes two restaurants, a cafeteria, deli, and general store, along with the Sports Center, which has a heated pool, Jacuzzi and sauna.
Address: 4302 Bolton Valley Access Road, Bolton Valley
Official site: https://www.boltonvalley.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Bolton Valley
11. Magic Mountain
Say "Magic Mountain," and long-time New England skiers get a dreamy look in their eyes. It's a skiers' mountain, without the off-slope amenities and activities of larger resort mountains (but there is a well-equipped base lodge and a snow tubing hill). Although it has snowmaking and grooming on most terrain, there are natural snow trails and glades that are the envy of many larger resorts when there's fresh powder.
The terrain is legendary; its Swiss founder chose this mountain because its separate valleys head in different directions from the lifts, reminding him of the terrain in Switzerland's ski resorts. The resort he designed still thrills experienced skiers with some of the most challenging steeps and tree-skiing in the east. It is southern Vermont's most challenging mountain, but intermediate and beginning skiers find plenty of good skiing, too, and love its uncrowded slopes and trails and welcoming family atmosphere.
Classes at the Snowsports Learning Center are small, with lots of time for individual attention, and a conveyor belt lift takes skiers to the top of the beginner slope. A new base-to-mid-mountain double chair lift installed last year helps make Magic's classic terrain more accessible to novice and intermediate skiers, and the Black Double summit lift has been replaced with a fixed-grip quad to summit. With this addition comes another double-diamond expert summit trail named Pitch Black and a new East Side glade.
Two years ago the terrain park tripled in size to include 11 features. Magic has a unique policy for enthusiasts who love to climb on their own steam: for every climb to the top they get one free ride on the lift with a "Hike One, Ride One" token.
Lodging near the base on the access road includes the B&B-like Blue Gentian Lodge, with its warm atmosphere and bountiful breakfast, and The Upper Pass Lodge, even more affordable and with fewer extras but a comfortable and congenial place to stay. Nearby, on the main road, Magic View Motel is moderately priced.
Address: 495 Magic Mountain Access Road, Londonderry, Vermont
Official site: https://magicmtn.com
12. Mad River Glen
Vermont's most unusual ski mountain, Mad River Glen is owned by skiers who love it just the way it is. News here is that nothing has changed—it's still dedicated to natural terrain, natural snow, and skiers only. Mad River Glen is a legend, with its cheeky motto, "Ski it if You Can" 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 real nostalgia (or maybe a moment to fully appreciate modern lifts), ride Mad River Glen's single-chair lift. Families love its non-commercial, kid-friendly atmosphere; its handy single base area; and plenty of blues and greens for beginning skiers. Boarders need to go elsewhere—along with being one of the last bastions of natural snow skiing in New England, it's one of only three areas in North America that don't allow snowboarding.
There is no on-slope lodging, but plenty nearby. The Hyde Away Inn, on Rte 100 and convenient to both Mad River Glen and Sugarbush, offers budget-friendly rooms, retro ski-dorm bunk rooms, and a restaurant. Also with a restaurant, Mad River Barn Inn is 1.5 miles from Mad River Glen, and about five miles from Sugarbush's Lincoln Peak.
Address: 1840 Sugarbush Access Road, Warren, Vermont
Official site: https://www.madriverglen.com/
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Mad River Valley
Cross Country Skiing in Vermont
Trapp Family Lodge
The 60 kilometers of groomed trails and 100 kilometers of backcountry trails through pristine spruce forests aren't the only appeals of the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe Vermont. The first cross country ski center in America was founded here in the 1960s by the von Trapp family, of Sound of Music fame. The family still owns this mountaintop winter sports center, which includes an Alpine-style inn, dining, equipment rentals, and a learning center.
Whether you ski on your own or take a guided tour, you'll be treated to glorious views of the Green Mountains. Stop for homemade soups or hot chocolate by the fireplace at the cozy Slayton Pasture Cabin.
Address: 700 Trapp Hill Rd, Stowe, Vermont
Official site: https://www.trappfamily.com
The Best Ski Resorts in Europe and North America
Ski the East: Across the Connecticut River from Vermont, New Hampshire's White Mountains offer more choices of ski resorts. Learn about them in our article on the Top Ski Resorts in New Hampshire. Other resorts in New England and neighboring New York offer more great skiing, described in our article Top-Rated Ski Resorts on the East Coast.
Ski Europe: If skiing the Alps or the Dolomites intrigues you, our articles: Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Italy, Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Austria, Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Switzerland, and Top-Rated Ski Resorts in France can help you plan your next European winter vacation.