Vermont is the premiere skiing destination of the east, and while each of our Vermont ski areas have their own style, it's the small differences that make them unique. In part 2 of this 3-part series, we're here to help you plan a great winter ski vacation in Vermont. Below are the ski resorts of Central Vermont, but you can discover information about our Northern Vermont Ski Areas in part 1, and we'll also provide information for the Southern Vermont Ski Areas in a future article, so stay tuned!
Okemo Mountain Resort is conveniently located above the village of Ludlow, just off Vermont Routes 103 and 100. As a family-operated, four-season resort, it's often referred to as "the big mountain that gets the little things right."
Nestled among Okemo's 120 trails & glades are ten unique terrain parks and features where you can explore the world of rails, boxes, jumps, hits and pipes. Okemo's Ski & Ride School has instructors that specialize in patience, skill-building and instilling confidence in skiers & riders of every age. And don't forget the Timber Ripper, Vermont's only mountain coaster. It's a four-season roller-coaster that offers a scenic and exhilarating ride through alpine forests and along the contours of the mountain at Okemo's Jackson Gore.
Here's a little preview of some of the winter activities you can find at Okemo:
Need a place to stay while enjoying your time on the slopes? Okemo offers eight different properties, all with their own character and charm, and here are a couple other options to consider when looking for a place to stay near Okemo:
Golden Stage Inn (802-226-7744): A four-season Vermont Inn, located in the Okemo Valley of Vermont, just 5 minutes to Okemo Mountain Resort, 15 minutes from scenic Weston, and just 25 minutes from picturesque Woodstock. Each winter brings fantastic savings on midweek and three-day stays, as well as discounted lift tickets to Okemo Mountain Resort and to Viking Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Center.
Echo Lake Inn (800-356-6844): located just 5 minutes from Okemo and Ludlow, the Echo Lake Inn offers 23 rooms, some with private Jacuzzi & Fireplace, and 7 condos. Checkout their Gourmet Ski and Stay Package (available January 4 to March 5, 2015), just $149 for a 2-night midweek stay! Includes midweek Okemo lift ticket, three course dinner and a full breakfast. (Please mention VERMONT.COM when you contact them for more info).
Killington Mountain is the largest resort in the northeast, stretching across 7 mountain areas, including Pico Mountain. While Pico Mountain is not connected via their network of lifts, it is just 5 miles away and a convenient shuttle service is offered daily between the two resorts.
Killington is also known for having the longest on-snow season in the East. To compliment Mother Nature's average of 250 inches of natural snow each winter, Killington's snowmaking system covers 600 of their skiable acres - that's more acres than some eastern resorts have in total skiable terrain!
Want more than just skiing or snowboarding? Killington has something for everyone. Scenic gondola rides offer a relaxing 1.25 mile ride in an enclosed 8-person gondola cabin to the top of Killington Peak. You can enjoy Killington’s Snowshoe Loops, or their tubing park, and cap off your day with a snowcat-drawn sleigh ride around the Killington trail network.
If you're looking for a place to stay near Killington and Pico, there are many options to choose from. You could stay at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel, or one of the six Killington-managed properties, or one of the many nearby Vermont inns. Here are a couple suggestions:
Chalet Killington (800-451-4105): An all-season resort hotel located on the Killington Mountain Road, the perfect location for your Vermont ski vacation. Chalet Killington offers 30 guest rooms, hot tub, sauna, and a free slope-side shuttle from December to April. During your stay, enjoy Mexican American fare at the Baja Burrito Co. in their fireside lounge, with great brews on tap and some of the best Margaritas on the Mountain!
Inn at Long Trail (802-775-7181): A classic Vermont bed & breakfast inn conveniently located on Route 4, about 1/4 mile from Killington's Pico base lodge, making it one of the closest inns to Killington. The Inn is home to the area's first and foremost Irish pub, McGrath's Irish Pub, which is run like a true family pub in Ireland, where everybody is welcome, from grandkids to grandparents, and live Irish music is held on stage every weekend when open.
Sugarbush Resort offers two mountains, 3 terrain parks, tons of gladed areas, the 2,000 acre Slide Brook Wilderness area, as well as acclaimed Ski & Ride School programs from the Adventure Learning Center, 5 high-speed quads, and don't forget to checkout the Lincoln Limo cabin cat! Their Pisten Bully cat is fitted with a twelve-passenger luxury cabin equipped with a flat screen TV and cushy seats. A family vacation at Sugarbush is anything but average, and they’ve got options for every taste, whether you want to do everything together or "divide and conquer."
Sugarbush Resort offers a variety of accommodation options to suit your needs, and as a resort guest, you’ll receive complimentary access to the Sugarbush Health & Racquet Club. If you're looking for something off-resort, here are a few suggested places to stay in the area:
West Hill House B&B (802-496-7162): Located just one mile from Sugarbush, the West Hill House offers the features and amenities you would expect in a luxurious boutique Green Hotel in their 9 individually decorated guest rooms. A full breakfast is of course included. Homemade baking and hot drinks await you any time of the day or night, and you'll enjoy their selection of Vermont beers, as well as a variety of choices from their excellent wine cellar.
Sugar Lodge at Sugarbush (800-982-3465): A classic mountain lodge located less than 1/2 mile from the Sugarbush Ski Area. Enjoy Continental Breakfast each morning, Cable TV, Beer/Wine Bar, Free WiFi and an outdoor heated pool. Kids will also enjoy the Great Room’s selection of board games and puzzles. During the ski season, Sugar Lodge is a scheduled stop on the FREE MadBus Shuttle servicing the Sugarbush Ski Area and the Waitsfield Village area.
Located in central Vermont’s picturesque Mad River Valley and only a 3-mile drive from the Sugarbush Resort, Mad River Glen is America’s only skier-owned major mountain, remaining independent and preserving a brand of skiing that doesn't exist anywhere else.
The Glen is famous for its legendary expert terrain, beautiful and varied beginner and intermediate trails, and the nation's last surviving single chairlift. The extensive trail system follows the contours of General Stark mountain to a single base area, making it easy for families and friends to ski together.
TRIVIA: Did you know? Mad River Glen was one of the first places in the U.S. to allow snowboarding (during the 1986-87 season), however due to heated debate, Betsy Pratt, Mad River Glen’s previous owner, decided to ban snowboards entirely. When she sold the mountain to the coop, they addressed the snowboard ban with a vote and over 75% voted to keep the ban. Today Mad River Glen is one of only three ski areas in the U.S. that completely ban snowboarding.
Yes, the Central Vermont Ski Areas are certainly unique - from the largest ski area in the East, to the first cooperatively-owned ski area in America! And they're all easy to reach:
Okemo Mountain Resort is only about 30-45 minutes from I-91 and from Rutland, VT (home to Vermont's second largest airport). Killington and Pico are less than 30 minutes from Rutland and about an hour from I-89 & I-91 at White River Junction. Sugarbush and Mad River Glen are located in the Mad River Valley, a clearly defined geographic area including the villages of Warren & Waitsfield, set along the Mad River, and only about an hour from Burlington, VT.
So what do you think about our Central Vermont Ski Areas? Which one is your favorite? You can learn about our Northern Vermont Ski Areas in Part One of this series, and keep checking our blog for Part Three, as we continue with Southern Vermont's Ski Areas.