Ultimate Guide to Vermont Ski Resorts: Ranking Every Destination from Best to Worst
For those unable to jet-set to far-flung ski destinations, the verdant slopes of Vermont offer a compelling allure. Nestled within driving proximity of major cities like New York and Boston, Vermont’s ski resorts boast a variety of trails catering to all skill levels. However, not every resort is on the same playing field. We’re diving deep into Vermont’s ski scene, ranking resorts based on their overall mountain experience, and dissecting the unique strengths and weaknesses of each.
13. Magic Mountain
At the list’s base lies Magic Mountain, known for its local vibe and excellent expert terrain in Southern Vermont. But its snowmaking capabilities fall short against higher-end rivals, leading to frequent thin cover. The slow lift network, including the prolonged construction of the Black Line Quad, further dims its appeal. Magic Mountain shines in terrain diversity but is outclassed in infrastructure and reliability by its competitors.
12. Bolton Valley
Bolton Valley, a hidden gem in Northern Vermont, enjoys robust snow totals close to the state’s top mountains. It’s a family-friendly resort with commendable tree terrain and Vermont’s sole night skiing operation. Yet, its small 165-acre size and slow lifts detract from the experience, particularly on colder days. Bolton Valley is a good pick for low-crowd, natural snow enthusiasts but lacks the development of top-tier resorts.
Bromley, an independent resort in Southern Vermont, offers family-friendly, easy-to-navigate terrain with some challenging options for experts. Its south-facing slopes bring more sun and pleasant temperatures. However, its 178-acre size might underwhelm more seasoned skiers, and conditions can quickly turn icy and windswept. Bromley is a gem for its size, but it’s outpaced by larger resorts with more varied terrain.
10. Mad River Glen
A haven for expert skiers, Mad River Glen in Central Vermont is known for its challenging terrain, including cliffs and frozen waterfalls. This ski-only resort, with minimal grooming and snowmaking, is served by the unique single chair lift. However, its size (115 acres) and limited snow resiliency measures mean frequent trail closures and thin cover. Mad River Glen is a dream post-snowfall but may disappoint those seeking a traditional ski vacation.
9. Mount Snow
Mount Snow in Southern Vermont offers an extensive 600-acre terrain with impressive snowmaking. Despite this, it struggles with overcrowding and long lift lines. The resort’s layout and freestyle terrain are its strengths, but the high skier density and similar-feeling adjacent trails limit its appeal. Mount Snow is a solid choice for a convenient trip, but its peak rates can be exorbitant.
Okemo stands out with family-friendly terrain across its five peaks and good grooming operations. However, the resort has seen increased crowding since its acquisition by Vail Resorts. Lift lines are a common annoyance, and while its natural snowfall is decent, it’s eclipsed by other resorts in terms of snowmaking.
Pico offers a respite from the crowds, with two high-speed quads and a diverse mix of intermediate to advanced terrain. Its 250-acre size is modest, and it operates on a limited schedule. While Pico is overshadowed by neighboring Killington, it remains a hidden gem for those seeking quieter slopes.
6. Smugglers’ Notch
Smugglers’ Notch is a throwback to classic Vermont skiing, offering minimal buildup and traditional narrow slopes. However, its old-school charm comes with drawbacks, like ancient lifts and limited snowmaking. The resort’s terrain is excellent, but its outdated infrastructure can detract from the overall experience.
Stratton’s 670-acre terrain, modern lifts, and top-notch snowmaking make it a standout in Southern Vermont. Yet, the resort feels somewhat generic compared to its northern counterparts, with similar trails and a commercial atmosphere. Stratton is large and well-equipped but lacks the character of other resorts.
Sugarbush in Central Vermont boasts diverse terrain and beautiful scenery. While its snowmaking is strong, it’s limited on expert trails, and beginner options are scarce. The resort is split into two zones, which can hinder a unified skiing experience.
3. Jay Peak
Jay Peak offers the highest snow totals in Vermont, with exceptional glade and expert terrain. But its harsh weather conditions, limited snowmaking, and wind exposure can lead to poor trail conditions. The resort’s unique aerial tram adds appeal but isn’t the most practical for repeated runs.
Stowe balances great terrain for all levels with reliable snowfall and high-speed lifts.
Recent improvements have addressed some accessibility issues, but the resort still struggles with crowds and parking policies. Despite its high ticket prices, Stowe remains a top choice for a Vermont ski vacation.
Topping our list is Killington, the largest resort in the East Coast. It features a diverse 1500-acre terrain, modern lifts, and resilient snowmaking. Killington’s size and variety, combined with a vibrant nightlife, set it apart. While it can feel commercialized and crowded, its sheer scale and range of trails make it the premier choice for a Vermont ski trip.
Vermont’s ski resorts each have their unique charms and challenges. From the sprawling landscapes of Killington to the intimate slopes of Magic Mountain, there’s something for every skier. While some resorts excel in size and facilities, others offer a quieter, more traditional experience. As with any outdoor activity, weather plays a significant role, and conditions can vary. Our ranking aims to guide you through Vermont’s vibrant ski scene, helping you find the resort that best matches your skiing style and preferences.