New England Ski Resorts

  • Vermont:

Killington – good-sized and impressively varied terrain…and getting busier, more expensive, and less friendly every year. East Coast boarders with too much money will probably do just fine, though they’ll need to go a little too far for the nightlife they want.
An aside: This was my father’s favorite ski resort. He and my mother would drive to Killington from NYC in the middle of the week to avoid the weekend crowds for two days of skiing. When my folks moved to Las Vegas, we all thought that was it for the skiing. How wrong we were. Utah has long been one of the world’s premier ski destinations mainly because it gets a lot of superb snow, deep, dry powder, trademarked as “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” But few skiers are aware that the state’s highest resort base elevation is at Brian Head, an easy 3-hour drive from Vegas. The second highest? Nearby Eagle Point. Both get 350-360 inches of perfect snow annually – more than Deer Valley and every major ski resort in Colorado. Reaching almost 11,000 feet, Brian Head has 71 trails, plus night skiing, a lift-served tubing hill, terrain park, and beginner’s learning center. It offers multiple base areas, hotels, condos, restaurants and stores. The major issue with this resort is the altitude. It can be crushing if you are not acclimated. For that reason my parents preferred two other Vegas ski options. By far the closest and the only one that makes sense for day skiing or snowboarding from the casinos is Lee Canyon (formerly named the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort and locally known as Mt. Charleston). It’s just a 45-minute drive from Vegas. This was perfect for my parents now that they are in their seventies. When I visit we head out to Lee Canyon for a short day of skiing. I till find it odd to be able to hit the Las Vegas clubs at night after a day of being on the slopes. But then there are several aspects of living in a desert environment that stand out from my home on the East coast. My parents get water delivered every two weeks to their place. We go nowhere without bottled water which makes sense. After all it it important to be well hydrated. Serious dehydration can lead to death, but even being slightly dehydrated can have side effects such as dry skin, constipation, dizziness or light-headed and headaches. But this service of water delivery brings home that fact. My parents said their real estate agent recommended a local company called Tahoe Springs which offers fresh drinking water (what other kind is there) or natural spring water as well as alkaline water. They tried all three and finally settled on fresh water which according to the company’s website is crisp, delicious water that is purified through an exhaustive seven-stage process that includes, not only reverse osmosis, active carbon filtration, macro and micro filtration, but also ozonization and ultra-violet light. The result is amazingly pure water with a lower mineral content. Whatever. It tasted fine to me and satisfied my thirst!

Stowe – Winter has arrived and its time to put away your own, as well as your kids golf clubs sets, and take out the ski equipment. You may have enjoyed the Stowe Mountain Club Golf Course which meanders along the slopes of Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, while providing a dynamic setting with its unmatched beauty among Vermont golf courses during the other three seasons of the year, but it is now time to ski. Although Stowe offers great views, sizable (for NE) vertical, fun apres-ski environment with good food choices, decent park, so-so wait times, but ridiculous lift prices. Overall, it is one of the better Eastern destinations.

Mount Snow – the skiing is as good as Stowe, also pretty much as expensive as Stowe, and without Stowe’s nightlife and service quality to balance out the older facilities and generally less helpful service. It’s hard to recommend.

Okemo – very attractive mountain for greenish-blue skiers, though flatter and not as varied as some other VT spots. Crowds and costs about average (i.e, tolerable if you’re having a great day otherwise), but nearby Ludlow helps to make this a great family-friendly option.

Sugarbush – nice terrain and woods, geared mainly toward dark blue, one of the best spots in the East when the weather is right. A bit pricey, but never too busy. Not a lot to do in the immediate area, but some decent local places within a short drive. During the other months of the year, enjoy their Robert Trent Jones, Sr. masterpiece 18 holes course at Sugarbush Golf Club. Designed with respect for the natural setting and its breathtaking vistas, the par-71 course is as beautiful as the game itself.

Stratton – can get busy and expensive, but otherwise a good choice for glades and cruisers, nothing too challenging but surprisingly good for boarders…and a nice village on top of everything else, with Manchester close by if you need more.

Jay Peak – great trees and impressive snow make this a NE must-ski, especially for backcountry fans. High winds and ice can be a problem, but not really any more than any other Eastern destination. Great little ski town nearby for some unpretentious and laid-back apres-ski.

Mad River Glen – THE hardcore NE destination for people who are serious about skiing. No boarders, no boundaries, no business interests…very much like a step back in time. Quite steep for the East, with plenty of trees and very reasonable cost and crowd levels (though weekends can strain that). Not at all recommended for beginners and families looking for a vacation resort experience.

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