3. Smugglers Notch
(Jefferson, Vt., 802- 644-8851, www.smuggs.com)
Smugglers’ Notch is a year-round mountain vacation resort, fairly close to Stowe and only 30 miles away from the Burlington International Airport. The Black Hole, the only triple black diamond trail in the East, is for the most daring skiers. The rest can stick to the vast 1,000 acres of accessible terrain—over 300 acres marked and patrolled—of the entire Smuggler’s Notch resort. The resort is consistently and justifiably rated as one of the top family destinations in the nation. In fact, SKI Magazine readers have chosen Smugglers’ Notch as the top ski resorts for families for 15 years running.
The reputation could have something to do with the recently added $5million, 26,000 square foot, indoor play space. Activities include a “ninja warrior” obstacle course, climbing wall, inflatables, laser tag, slot car racing, arcade games, and more. Off-slope winter activities cover everything from artists’ classes to zip line canopy tours. Guests can enjoy a variety of Condominium Lodging in the Heart of Vermont’s Green Mountains ranging from 1 to 3 bedroom condos.
Lessons are available for all ages and levels, even for snowboarders as young as 2½ to 3 years. Adult day tickets are $72, while youth tickets are as low as $44. Discounts are available for partial day tickets, and tickets for seniors and veterans. Season passes are available for $549-$669 for adults, $299-$419 for youths (ages 6-18), $229 for all college students (no matter when they purchase), and an amazing $20 for all seniors over 70 and children under 5 years.
(Ludlow, Vt. 800-786-5366, www.okemo.com )
Okemo Mountain is home to Southern Vermont’s highest vertical drop with a height of 2,200 feet. Okemo was also ranked #8 for “Top 50 Resorts” in the October issue of SKI Magazine and #7 in TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine for its terrain parks.
Amp up the adrenaline at the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster, which reaches speeds of up to 30 mph as it soars and corkscrews through the woods. Head to Sawyer Sweep’s Zipline for even more adrenaline, with suspension bridges and seven segments rising 40 to 50 feet above ground, ending with a 30-foot free fall into a giant airbag.
Eighteen lifts take you to 115 trains, that include runs with names like Jolly Green Giant, Timberline, and Lower Limelight. Each one is clawed to a perfect corduroy by high-tech Sno Cats, so you have an ego-boosting ride, no matter if you are on terrain parks, glades or one of the three half pipes. Cool down at the end of the day with a twisted cruised down the finely groomed and pitched Tuckered Out trail.
Full day adult passes to Okemo start at $90, while junior and seniors enjoy a $68 ticket. Further discounted ($36-$67) tickets can be purchased if you start your ski day at 2pm or later. On weekends, tickets increase to $101 for adults, $89 for young adults and seniors, and $77 for juniors and super seniors.
Okemo’s RFID-enabled Real.Easy Card replaces traditional lift tickets and serves as lift access at Okemo. The cards can be used to purchase lift access online, and it eliminates waste. Lift access for Children 6 & under is always free but they also require a Real.Easy Card, available for $5 at any ticket window.
(Warren, Vt., 802- 583-6300,www.sugarbush.com)
The six-peak mountain resort—Lincoln Peak at its heart—has 2,000-plus acres of backcountry and the only Cat skiing in the East. All trails lead to Lincoln Peak Village, where visitors stay and dine at Clay Brook slopeside hotel and residences. The village includes a general store, casual and elegant dining, and the new Schoolhouse, children’s day ski-and-ride programs, and the Farmhouse where the Ski & Ride School is based.
Mt. Ellen has Vermont’s highest chairlift, a killer terrain park, and some woods and bump terrain. Private groups can rent the Lincoln Limo Cat for a day of spring skiing on Mt. Ellen, complete with a barbecue at Glen House.
Take an advanced heart-pumping tour of the backside with extreme skier John Egan, who will take you tree skiing, cliff jumping, and backcountry ski mountaineering.
The Powder Morning First Tracks program helps keeners be the first on the mountain. At night, hike up to Allyn’s Lodge for a multi-course fireside dinner, and then ski down under the stars.
Sugarbush is one of the more affordable options of our list. A package of four Adult All Mountain lift tickets are offered for $229 each. College season passes also start at $229, with several options available.
Have we “peaked” your interest in some New England skiing? Don’t be scared off by stories of New England ski resorts that have faced problems with lack of snow. Not only do most of them have the latest snow-making techniques, but they also groom the terrain for just that reason. In the end, a few incidents of “snowlessness” can be easily quelled with a cozy drink by a fire, some incredible views, and plenty of ancillary activities. New England ski resorts, and the five listed here in particular, know how to make all conditions picture perfect.