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While the Colorado Rockies, Park City, and Tahoe often steal the spotlight, New England’s ski resorts have frequently been ranked among the best in the country. In this region, you’ll find a variety of options, whether you’re looking for something close to Boston or a bit more remote. There’s something for everyone here, from beginners who just want to learn the basics to those looking for a challenge, with an ideal balance of exceptional scenery, base amenities, and outstanding terrain.
The “Beast of the East,” as Killington Ski Resort is often called, is the largest ski resort in Vermont (and one of the best), with 1,500 acres of skiable terrain across seven different mountain areas. There are 22 lifts, including two express lifts to get you there quicker, and 73 miles of trails that range from easy to expert. It has the largest vertical drop in New England, at 3,050 feet, and when you want to switch things up, there’s a tubing park, sleigh rides, snowshoe and snowmobile tours. Plus, you’ll find a wide range of restaurants and top-notch accommodation options, including a mountainside hotel with ski bridge access.
Stowe Mountain Resort is one of the largest of its kind on the East Coast, and the town itself is postcard-perfect. It’s a great pick for families and other groups who have a mix of skill levels or some non-skiers, with something for everyone. A gondola connects the resort’s two mountains, Spruce Peak and Mount Mansfield, which, at 4,395 feet, is the tallest in Vermont. The majority of the 116 trails are for intermediates, but there are 19 for beginners and 29 for experts. With some great snow-making capabilities, the snow is known for its high quality, and the resort enjoys a longer season. There are other activities, too, including ice skating, sleigh rides pulled by gentle Belgian and Percheron horses, and cross-country skiing. Plus, after a day of fun in the snow, there’s a spa for indulging in a massage.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort in northern Vermont attracts loyal families who have been coming for generations, and its accommodations are some of the best in the state. Tucked into a ridge and rising around the shoulder of Mount Mansfield, it’s a great place to dodge the crowds with a mostly local clientele while offering nine lifts with nearly 70 trails and 260 acres of terrain. It’s ideal for intermediates, but there’s terrain for beginners and the advanced, and ski lessons are available too. If you have snowboarders along, there’s a half-pipe and three terrain parks. Plus, there are lots of other activities, including snow tubing, laser tag, and free hot chocolate around the bonfire.
Nestled in the Mad River Valley, Sugarbush Resort is spread over six mountains with 4,000 acres and is one of the best ski resorts on the East Coast. It’s known for its Slide Brook Express Quad, the longest and fastest detachable quad lift in the country, while offering Vermont’s best combination of vertical drops and woods. The lift system provides quick, easy access to the slopes with a variety of green circles, blue squares, black diamonds, and lift-accessed backcountry options. It’s similar to Stowe overall but significantly cheaper. Plus, if you take a guided snowshoeing tour, you’ll learn how to interpret tracks and other signs of the area’s wildlife, which include moose, black bears, bobcats, deer, coyotes, and more.
Just five miles south of the Canadian border in northern Vermont, Jay Peak offers a long skiing and boarding season that runs from mid-November through mid-May with 78 trails: 31 for the experts, 30 for intermediates, and 15 for beginners. If you’re into backcountry skiing, it’s very popular here. In addition to the outstanding powder, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, ice skating, and ice hockey are all available, making it one of the top winter resorts for non-skiers and skiers alike. After any activity, you can enjoy live music or head to the full-service spa for some serious pampering. The resort even includes its own indoor waterpark, open year-round, featuring La Chute, a 65-foot drop that plummets at nearly a free-fall rate.
The second-largest ski resort in the Northeast, Sunday River offers a remote and scenic location without the crowds, with 50 miles of wilderness between it and the nearest highway. It’s worth the trip for the guaranteed good powder. If it doesn’t meet your expectations, you can use your lift ticket to return another day, but with advanced snowmaking capabilities, that’s unlikely. It also boasts the second-biggest vertical drop in Maine and high-capacity, high-speed lifts. On weekends and holidays, twilight skiing is offered on North Peak and South Ridge, plus there is a wide range of lesson programs, fabulous aprés ski bars, and all sorts of on-mountain lodging from hotels to condos.
Maine’s largest single ski mountain, Sugarloaf boasts a magnificent 4,237-foot summit with extraordinary views and miles of exciting trail options across 1,240 acres of terrain There are glades for all abilities, cat skiing, groomed cruisers, and a separate area for beginners. While it’s colder up here, the lower temperatures mean more consistently skiable terrain. It has one of the more lively aprés-ski scenes on the East Coast, with bars hosting live music on the weekend. There’s a brewpub at the base of the bunny hill, ideal for families, with sledding available for kids and fire pits outside. The award-winning slopeside village is jam-packed with shops, eateries, and resort lodging, from inns and condos to hotels.
Named the 2022 Readers’ Choice for “Best Ski Mountain” in Maine by Down East Magazine, Saddleback Mountain offers the highest base elevation of any ski area in the region for classic New England skiing with an old-fashioned feel and breathing views of the White Mountains and Rangeley Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in Maine. There’s plenty for skiers of all levels, including 68 runs and more than 600 acres of terrain, along with lift access above 4,000 feet. Plus, lift ticket prices are among the lowest in the region, there’s a great aprés scene, and a variety of accommodations, including a gorgeous post-and-beam base lodge and slopeside condos.
One of the top family-friendly getaways in New England, Bretton Woods Ski Area is the largest ski area in New Hampshire, with 464 acres, 63 trails, and 35 glades accessed via ten lifts, including four high-speed quads and the Bretton Woods Skyway Gondola. It offers what many have said is the best downhill skiing and lessons you’ll find in the region, along with other activities like sleigh rides, tubing, snowmobiling, and ice skiing. There are multiple venues for dining and drinking, along with a full-service spa, making it easy to spend a long weekend, a week, or longer.
Nestled in the White Mountain Forest, Wildcat Mountain is one of the region’s steepest, with a vertical drop of over 2,100 feet. Enjoy 225 acres of skiable terrain with something for everyone from beginners to the advanced, all accessed in under 7 minutes by the Wildcat Express Quad. It’s also home to the longest summit-to-base novice trail, which runs for 2.75 miles while featuring jaw-dropping views throughout. In fact, it’s consistently rated the best for scenery in the East. It’s also one of the most budget-friendly ski resorts in the U.S.
Loon Mountain is a family-friendly ski resort that’s easily accessible at just a 10-minute drive from Interstate 93. It offers trails for all ski levels, including the youngest beginners and experts. It’s mostly blues, which link to a handful of gentle greens and challenging blacks, with a total of more than 60 trails spread across three peaks with 2,100 feet of vertical drop. The most powerful snowmaking system in the state ensures that the slopes are top-notch. Other activities include snowshoeing, tubing, ice skating, and even a zip line that will bring you over a frozen river. Ski-in/ski-out lodging is available as well.
Mount Sunapee offers 66 trails, about half of which are for intermediates, while the rest are divided between beginners and experts. Beginners have a separate area just for them, eliminating the stress of more experienced skiers whizzing by. Spread across a 1,500-foot-vertical drop with over 230 acres of terrain, the longest trail stretches for two miles. High-speed quads will get you to the summit in just four minutes. There are four terrain parks, too, including the Six O’ Three Terrain Park, with 50 terrain features and a 4,000-watt sound system. All this, and it’s less than two hours from Boston.
The closest ski mountain to Boston with serious vertical, Wachusett Mountain is just an hour from the city, and if you don’t want to drive, there’s a train and a dedicated bus that will bring you to the base lodge. From the summit, you’ll enjoy a view of the skyline. It has 25 trails evenly divided among various experience levels, served by eight lifts, plus beginner terrain in a separate area. If you need rental gear, there’s an excellent selection, along with a demonstration center in the base lodge that has the most extensive selection of demo ski equipment in southern New England. You’ll find a gastropub and a cafe at the base, too.
The largest ski and snowboard resort in southern New England and one of the best ski resorts near New York City, Jiminy Peak is in western Massachusetts near the border with New York, 155 miles from Boston and 200 from New York City. Advanced skiers and boarders will find challenging terrain, and intermediates will appreciate the runs designed for cruising. About half of the slopes are for beginners, who can enjoy them at their own pace. There’s a village center with shopping and dining and slope-side accommodations, too.