Most people dream about skiing “out west” here in the US, and rush to book trips at resorts like Vail, Keystone, Aspen, Big Sky, etc. But, have you heard the phrase “ski the east” aka the northeast? The northeast and specifically, New England, is home to some of the best ski resorts in the country. We too get tons of snow up here each winter, and with several mountains (and states) in close proximity to one another, New England is a winter dream. Whether you ski or snowboard, either with young kids or as a pro, I hope this post inspires you to check out some of the mountains in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine! Here are the 10 best ski resorts in New England you need to visit.
Best Ski Resorts in New Hampshire
New Hampshire is home to some of the finest ski resorts in New England. NH is also home to the ski resorts closest to Boston, such as Sunapee and Waterville Valley, which are both only about 1.5-2 hours north. The big three mountains that I discuss below, Bretton Woods, Loon, and Cannon, are all in close proximity to one another in central New Hampshire. This is great news if you’re from somewhere else- you can knock out all three in one trip. I highly recommend basing yourself near the towns of Lincoln and Woodstock, New Hampshire. You’ll have no problem finding lodging, restaurants, and great breweries, like Woodstock Station, here. You can also explore the nearby Ice Castles!
1. Bretton Woods
Conveniently located in central New Hampshire at the foot of Mount Washington and within the confines of the White Mountain National Forest, Bretton Woods is the perfect ski area for families and experts alike. Bretton Woods is actually New Hampshire’s largest ski area, covering more than 460 acres. It’s any skier or snowboarder’s dream with 63 trails and 35+ glades. My personal favorite characteristic about Bretton Woods that makes it quite unique is the Chutter’s Candy Bar located at the top of the mountain. Chutter’s Candy Store is actually home to the longest candy counter in the world! I highly recommend visiting its main location in Littleton, NH where it’s candy bar is over 112 feet long.
Weekend adult day passes currently cost $115. If you plan on visiting Bretton Woods during the week, it costs $79 for an adult day pass.
Where to Stay:
If you’re looking to make the most of your time in the White Mountains, I couldn’t recommend a stay at the Omni Mount Washington Resort enough. This historic property is one of the nicest in the area and is a great place to enjoy apres-ski. Looking for a little thrill? The Mount Washington Hotel is one of America’s most haunted hotels!
Also located in central New Hampshire, Loon Mountain Resort is situated at the base of the Kancamagus, or route 112. This historic highway draws hundreds of tourists to this area during the fall for New England leaf peeping. Loon has one of the only gondolas in the northeast, 61 trails, and 10 lifts. Loon is one of my personal favorite mountains for a winter weekend away because of its location. The town of Lincoln has a lot to offer and the ice castles are nearby in Woodstock, NH. Loon is also known for its fun events, including an 80s day each April and a mud run each summer.
Weekend adult passes can cost upwards of $110 and average about $75 during the week.
Where to Stay:
Check out the Loon Mountain Club for an affordable, slope-side accommodation.
Cannon’s terrain is so varied, it’s perfect for everyone. There’s a whole area off the main Peabody lift on the bottom half of the mountain that’s perfect for families, along with a challenging terrain park, and glades. To reach Cannon’s summit, you’ll have to take two lifts. The upper trails at Cannon offered some of the best views and switchback routes. If you want to avoid the main Cannonball lodge at the base, I recommend grabbing lunch up at the summit lodge. There’s a full bar up there and way less crowds. Another way to access the summit at Cannon is by riding the tram. The tram holds up to 75 people, runs year-round, and offers one of the most scenic views in the state. Cannon is situated right in the middle of Franconia Notch State Park, offering views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
Any day lift tickets at Cannon cost $89 for an adult full day and $70 for a half day.
Where to Stay:
Take advantage of being in Franconia Notch State Park and explore the surrounding area. I recommend staying in Lincoln or Woodstock, towns just to the south. A bit further north you’ll find the towns of Franconia and Littleton, both of which are very quaint and have a lot to offer.
Bonus: Looking for a smaller mountain? Check out Sunapee! Sunapee was recently bought by Vail and is in the process of expanding. Sunapee Mountain is only 1.5 hours north of Boston is one of the best mountains in southern/central New Hampshire. It’s perfect for families. This is actually where I learned how to ski!
Best Ski Resorts in Vermont
Vermont is home to New England’s largest ski resorts and in my personal opinion, the best. Skiing in Vermont draws crowds from all over the world, including New Yorkers who flock to southern Vermont to ski areas like Stratton and Canadians who drive across the border to visit resorts like Jay Peak. Vermont truly offers something for every skill level. The mountains here are more spread out and will require separate trips. There’s Stratton near Manchester, Vermont in the southeast, Killington in central Vermont, and Mad River Glen and Jay Peak in northern Vermont. These are two of New England’s best kept hidden gems, and I was lucky to visit both this past season. You could combine these into a trip if you want!
Stratton is an awesome ski mountain and as mentioned above, is popular among both local New Englanders plus New Yorkers due to its central location in the Green Mountain National Forest in southeast Vermont. It’s known as the “Best Ski Resort Near NYC”. Stratton is also super unique because of it’s village. It looks just like Europe! This is pretty common for resorts out west, like Vail Village for example, but pretty special for New England. Stratton has 94 trails and glades and 11 lifts. Although Stratton caters to both skiers and snowboarders, it’s known as being one of the best mountains in the region for snowboarding!
A full-day adult ski pass at Stratton will cost around $115.
Where to Stay:
If you’re looking to splurge, I definitely recommend staying in or near Stratton’s Village! You’ll be central to the shops, restaurants, and quaint downtown. Another option is to explore nearby Manchester, one of Vermont’s most charming towns. It’s about 30 minutes away.
Fun fact, Killington Ski Area is the biggest ski resort in New England! It was the tallest vertical drop in New England at just over 3,000 feet. These two factors have caused people to refer to Killington as the “Beast of the East”. Located in Rutland, Vermont, Killington is located in central Vermont and near several other, smaller ski resorts including Pico. It’s also verily close to Woodstock, Vermont, one of the most charming towns in New England. I highly recommend checking out Woodstock during a New England fall leaf peeping trip! With over 155 trails, 20+ lifts, and 6 separate peaks, snowboarders and skiers typically spend a few days in this area.
Prices vary dramatically at Killington depending on which day of the week you visit. If possible, try to ski during the week as adult lift tickets only cost $94. On the weekends, they can cost you over $140 each!
Where to Stay:
Since Killington is so large, you’ll have no problem finding nearby accommodation. Killington Mountain Lodge sits at the base of the mountain and is near some of the area’s best restaurants. If you’re looking for a small town, stay in Woodstock. The Woodstock Inn is one of New England’s best luxury resorts with an acclaimed spa, multiple bars, and cozy lobby.
A characteristic of Stowe that makes it one of the best ski resorts in New England is its gondola. Unlike other mountains with gondolas that bring you to the summit, Stowe’s gondola, called the Over Easy, brings you from the mountain to across the parking lot and right into Stowe Village! Stowe Village reminded me a lot of the villages out west, like Vail. Here you’ll find a fun outdoor ice skating rink, tons of restaurants, shops, and an indoor recreation center that has a rock climbing wall! The main lodges are over here too and have plenty of options for lunch. Stowe’s skiable terrain is shaped like a horseshoe bowl, with the parking lot in the center. This is a great spot to spend a full day!
A lift ticket at Stowe for an adult will cost ~$110.
Where to Stay:
There’s tons of accommodation options right in Stowe Village that I recommend exploring, especially if you’re traveling with kids. However, if you’d like something a little bit more unique and adventurous, check out the Von Trapp Family Lodge! Located about 15 minutes away from Stowe Mountain Resort, the Von Trapp Lodge is an Austrian-inspired getaway opened by the Von Trapp Family, aka the family who inspired the movie The Sound of Music!
Okemo is located in central southern Vermont, just south of Killington. It actually sits in between Stratton and Killington, so you could knock out all 3 of these mountains in a week if you wanted to. Aside from its expansive skiable terrain, Okemo is one of the most commercialized mountains in the area, offering a wide variety of activity and dining options for families. Most notably, there’s the Okemo Mountain Resort which is home to the Okemo Adventure Zone. There’s also tubing, a mountain coaster, and multiple waffle cabins! These amenities make Okemo one of the best ski resorts in New England for families.
A day pass at Okemo will cost ~$100. Most people end up getting the 2 day pass for about ~$180 since there’s enough here to stay for a whole weekend!
Where to Stay:
If you’re traveling with kids, I recommend staying at the Okemo Mountain Resort. It was by far the most to offer. The Jackson Gore Inn is a great, central option!
8. Mad River Glen
This has to be one of the most unique ski mountains I’ve ever been to, so naturally, it had to make the list of best ski resorts in New England. Located in northern Vermont, Mad River Glen is a skiers only mountain. And home to one of the only single rider’s lift in the country! Mad River Glen has always been owned by a bunch of skiers, who want to preserve the “old school” ski culture, meaning that no snow boarders are allowed. This is actually one of only 3 mountains in all of North America to do this (the other two are in Utah)! By old school, I mean that the majority of this mountain is actually left ungroomed, which is pretty rare nowadays. Lastly, Mad River Glen is home to one of the only single chairlifts in the country!
To compete with some of bigger mountains in Vermont, a lift ticket here costs $92. It used to be so much cheaper back in the day.
Where to Stay:
Unlike some of the massive resorts mentioned above, Mad River Glen is a much smaller mountain and a lot less surrounding it. I recommend just visiting in a day trip, but if you need somewhere to stay, you can check out the Mad River Lodge.
9. Jay Peak
Jay Peak is by far the most northern ski mountain in Vermont. You can see Canada from the summit. Pretty cool right? Although it may not be as epic as some of the bigger mountains in the south, Jay Peak is known for getting dumped on each year. Oh, and they serve poutine in the cafeteria! Poutine is a classic Canadian side dish and is essentially just french fries with cheese curds and gravy. Something important to note about Jay Peak is its definitely not a beginners mountain. There are very few greens here. This is especially true about the triple lift to the left of the mountain where you’ll find mostly blacks. There’s also a tram that can bring you to the summit. Jay’s fresh powder will remind you of skiing out west, making it a top contender on the list of best ski resorts in New England!
Tickets here range from about ~$80 during the week to ~$100 on weekends for adult skiers. Juniors can be as cheap as $50/day!
Where to Stay:
Similarly to Stratton, Stowe, Killington, and Okemo, Jay Peak is a mountain resort. Therefore, there’s several accommodation options right at the base of the mountain. I recommend the Jay Peak Resort, which is great for families. They even have an indoor waterpark! Just be warned that there isn’t much to do outside of the ski resort. You pass through the town of Jay in a blink of an eye!
Best Ski Resorts in Maine
And finally, there’s Maine! Although New England includes the states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts too, there really aren’t any notable mountains in the south. You’ll want to head north from Boston to find the best ski resorts in New England. Maine is home to some great resorts including Shawnee Peak, Sunday River, Saddleback, and Sugarloaf! Sugarloaf is Maine’s biggest ski resort and is the only resort in the area to have lift-serviced ski terrain above the tree line! Additionally, this mountain gets tons of snow. The only downside is it’s pretty remote, so you’ll probably want to stay for at least one night!
A lift ticket here will cost over $100 on the weekends and about ~$89 during the weekdays. Teens can ski for $67 during the week!
Where to Stay:
I recommend staying at a ski-in, ski-out slope side accommodation at Sugarloaf! There’s several options depending on your price range including the Mountainside condos, Timbers condos, and Gondola Village. The main resort here is the sugarloaf mountain hotel, which is conveniently located in the heart of the village.
In conclusion, I hope this post inspires you to cross off some of these ski mountains during the next winter season! I promise this list of the best ski resorts in New England won’t disappoint!
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