The 5 Best Ski Towns in the East

If you’re like me, you might be shocked to find out that big-mountain skiing and riding in the US does, in fact, exist east of Colorado. I grew up spoiled by the soft, dry powder and massive peaks of the Rockies, and found it unnecessary, even imprudent, to travel outside of the western United States to ski. Now that I live in New York, though, my ski world has shifted east — and I realize how completely wrong I was. Sprawling resorts, steep terrain, and rippable snow can be found in mountains throughout the east coast (often less than a five-hour drive from NYC, not that I noticed). If you want to find out for yourself how deep the powder can get near the eastern seaboard, these are some of the best mountain towns to explore.  

Killington, Vermont

Devotees to the ‘Beast of the East,’ are fiercely loyal, and rightly so. One of the best all-around ski resorts anywhere, Killington has earned its spot as one of the most beloved mountains in the east. Between two main peaks, Killington Resort and Pico Mountain, there are over 200 runs, 21 lifts, and several terrain parks for skiers and riders to enjoy. Killington pairs its serious terrain with a notorious après scene that spreads out across several restaurants and bars, with skiers and riders still in their boots reveling until well after the lifts stop spinning. In addition to the ski-in/ski-out Killington Grand Resort, there are a number of inns and lodges, catering to a wide variety of budgets, along the main road. First-timers be warned: there is perhaps no resort that accounts for as many missed work/school days as Killington.

North Creek, New York

Just over four hours from New York City, North Creek is a scenic, family-friendly mountain town on the banks of the Hudson River. The main resort, Gore Mountain, boasts 110 trails and 2,500+ vertical feet, and is by far the largest ski area in New York state. Plus, a prolific snowmaking program ensures that 97% of those 110 trails receive guaranteed snow coverage; and new RFID lift passes make getting up the mountain quick and painless. When you’re ready to be down the mountain, the town’s charming Main Street runs along the Hudson, and is lined with alpine-inspired bars and restaurants. One of the best parts of North Creek, though, is the Ski Bowl. The small recreation area near town acts like a village center, offering up tubing, ice skating, and best of all, night skiing under the lights.

Stowe, Vermont

There aren’t many places in North America as rich in both world-class service, and powder, as Stowe. With over 240 inches of average annual snowfall, and 84% of its runs in the intermediate to expert range, Stowe’s terrain rivals even the big guns out west. And for skiers and riders who want to indulge themselves, the amenities might be even better. The well-appointed Lodge at Spruce Peak is the centerpiece of Stowe’s base village (a unique feature for towns in the east); and just down the road is Topnotch Resort, a beautifully designed boutique ski lodge. Then, of course, there’s Stowe’s enchanting downtown, where the hygge vibes will keep you nice and warm through those cold Vermont nights.

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

With the highest peak in the northeast as a backdrop, and the largest ski resort in New Hampshire as its focal point, Bretton Woods may have the best combination of scenery and skiing in the northeast. In addition to receiving over 200 inches of the good stuff annually, the resort makes snow on 92% of its runs. In town, there are a few hotel options, but the Omni Mount Washington is the grand dame. The stately 4-star resort, with its Spanish-inspired architecture, is as luxurious a place to rest your legs as you’re likely to find anywhere in the US. Because after a day of making turns down Bretton’s nearly 100 trails, you’re going to want to treat yourself.

Sugarloaf, Maine

Located in northern Maine, near the Canadian border, Sugarloaf is one of the most secluded resorts in the northeast. Skiers and riders of all skill levels who are willing to make the long trek up through the Carrabassett Valley will be rewarded handsomely — over 160 trails stretch out across the resort’s 2,820 feet of vertical. For those who are just starting out, Sugarloaf has more beginner runs (22%) than any other mountain on this list. Experienced skiers and riders can head up above the treeline to the Snowfields, where a litany of double-black diamonds beckon. After a day of making fresh tracks, settle in at the luxe Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel, or one of several cozy airbnbs that are tucked away near the lifts. Bonus: if you have the Ikon Pass, 5-7 days are already included at Sugarloaf.

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