The 10 Best Ski Resorts on the East Coast

The 10 Best Ski Resorts on the East Coast – UPDATED 2020/21
Bryan Woods
Written by Bryan Woods / Photos by Greg Burke
Last updated May 15, 2020
Map View

You’re probably thinking, ‘why on earth would I ski the East?’ Well, East Coast ski resorts actually stack up pretty well against their compadres in the West! It's true the snow is wetter and there's more ice but less-than-perfect conditions have kept the soul of skiing strong in the East.

Map View

Known for

Feels like you’re in a European ski town without the transatlantic airfare price tag

Highlights

  • Family-friendly resort just 90 minutes from Montreal
  • Excellent nightlife right next to the slopes
  • Diverse terrain suitable for all levels
  • Weekend crowds can be overwhelming

Closest airports

Montreal-Mirabel Intl. Airport - 64 mi (1 hour drive)
Montréal-Trudeau Intl. Airport - 86 mi (1.5 hour drive)
mont tremblant is the disneyland of the ski world
The Disneyland of the ski world

French-speaking Tremblant is the Disneyland of the ski world with its colourful old Quebec-style village and cobblestone streets. It’s picture-perfect and pedestrianised, with street performers and musicians entertaining on the streets. Whether or not this sounds good depends on you, but the 96 trails to ski here are the real deal. It’s a pricey place to stay, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s also one of only two ski resorts in the East that has nightlife worth writing home about. Weekends can be a bit crowded as Montrealers come here to be seen, whether they ski or not, because there’s as much to do off the slopes as on them

Map View

Known for

Biggest ski area in the East with diversity of terrain across six mountains

Highlights

  • Best ski resort in Vermont for nightlife
  • Challenging glades and tons of trails with moguls
  • Snowmobile tours, tubing park and more
  • Difficult to navigate trail and lift layout

Closest airports

Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport - 22 mi (35 minute drive)
Burlington Intl. Airport - 94 mi (2 hour drive)
view of killington from pico mountain
View of Killington from Pico Mountain

A perennial favorite amongst New York City skiers, along with the rest of the Mid-Atlantic states, Killington is quite rightly nicknamed ‘The Beast of the East!'. It encompasses seven different mountain peaks, including Pico Mountain which is connected via shuttle bus. With so much ski area and a variety of trails, from groomers to mogul steeps, Killington’s terrain has something for everyone. There’s no denying that Killington is an incredibly popular place to ski and snowboard, but it’s not just the slopes that visitors come here for. In my opinion, the amazing après-ski is an attraction in itself, and some people visit as much for the nightlife as the skiing. For excellent places to eat and drink, you’ll find countless options along the access road leading into the resort.

Map View

Known for

Quaint ski village, offering a combination of expert ski terrain with indulgent hospitality

Highlights

  • Downtown Stowe has endless dining and drinking options
  • Plenty of challenging terrain to explore
  • Efficient and fast, updated lifts
  • Most expensive resort in the East and crowded on weekends

Closest airports

Morrisville-Stowe State Airport - 14 mi (30 minute drive)
Burlington Intl. Airport - 42 mi (1 hour drive)
nose dive intermediate trail at Stowe Mountain Resort
Nose Dive – an intermediate trail

Welcome to ‘The Ski Capital of the East’, the nickname bestowed upon Stowe by its lucky inhabitants. Downtown Stowe is a pretty ski village with old world New England charm, surrounded by Mt Mansfield - the tallest peak in Vermont and Spruce Peak. You’ll find some of the most gnarly skiing in the East here, along with luxurious hotels and plenty of pampering off the slopes. There’s more fun to be had in the town of Stowe, which has a vibrant local brewery scene. That’s really just the start though, because there are more than 50 different restaurants and bars to try out in Stowe!

Map View

Known for

Family-friendly ski resort with endless activities to do

Highlights

  • Snowiest ski resort in the East
  • Huge indoor water park, climbing gym and much more
  • New base area includes luxury lodgings
  • There’s no nightlife or real town nearby

Closest airports

Northeast Kingdom Intl. Airport - 24 mi (35 minute drive)
Burlington Intl. Airport - 68 mi (1.5 hour drive)
jay peak
Welcome to Jay Peak

Out of all the ski resorts in the East, Jay Peak is number one when it comes to sheer quantity of powder and tree-skiing is a real standout. But once you’re here, Jay Peak feels so much more than a ski resort. There are loads on offer here; there’s plenty of comfortable accommodation, an ice skating rink, a climbing gym and then there’s The Pump House, a huge indoor waterpark complete with slides, hot tubs, and even a FlowRider! With so many activities available, it’s no wonder why families love Jay Peak. One thing that’s still missing here is any nightlife, so if you want to party, look elsewhere.

Map View

Known for

Same great skiing as Killington or Stowe without the crowds

Highlights

  • Similar to Stowe but significantly cheaper
  • Great lift system provides quick and easy access to slopes
  • Fantastic variety of terrain spread out over two mountains
  • Restaurants get very busy and base lacks nightlife

Closest airports

Burlington Intl. Airport - 42 mi (1 hour drive)
Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport - 62 mi (1.5 hour drive)
mt ellen at sugarbush
Mt Ellen, one of two interconnected mountains at Sugarbush

Sugarbush really is an overlooked gem, with many skiers heading to nearby Killington, Stowe, or Mad River Glen over this double mountain resort. So why shouldn’t you do the same? Simply put, Sugarbush offers practically everything that those more popular ski areas boast, minus the crowds. It’s also generally a notch cheaper than pricey Stowe, but not at the sacrifice of luxury. That said, Sugarbush lacks nightlife and the time-consuming journey on the quad to move between the resort’s two main ski areas is a real pain. But if you fancy schussing down a freshly groomed slope without queuing for a lift, this could be just the place for you!

Map View

Known for

Local mountain, home to the only lift-serviced skiing above the tree line across the entire East

Highlights

  • Abundant dining options serving local Maine beer
  • Second largest ski area in the East
  • Lots of glades to explore, plus cat skiing
  • The resort is isolated, far from airport and city

Closest airports

Portland Intl. Jetport - 120 mi (2.5 hour drive)
Mount Washington Regional Airport - 130 mi (3 hour drive)
sugarloaf summit
Sugarloaf Summit

The second largest ski area in the East after Killington, Sugarloaf is for the truly adventurous skiers. There’s powder-filled backcountry to explore at Brackett Basin and snowcat accessed sidecountry. You’ll even find the only lift-serviced above tree line skiing in the East here! Without a doubt, skiing is the main attraction at Sugarloaf, so don’t expect a glitzy ski village or many off-mountain activities. It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, a long drive from the closest major cities of Boston or Montreal. That said, the base area does have a light sprinkling of decent lodging options, eateries, and drinking holes, not to mention an annual Reggae Fest.

Map View

Known for

Largest vertical drop in the East and hosted the Winter Olympics, twice!

Highlights

  • Nearby bobsled and ice skating at the Olympic sites
  • Nice selection of dining options in Lake Placid
  • Exquisite expert terrain available including in-bounds off-piste skiing
  • Trail layout has not been designed with intermediates in mind

Closest airports

Burlington Intl. Airport - 66 mi (2.5 hour drive)
Albany Intl. Airport - 130 mi (2.5 hour drive)
view lake placid from whiteface mountain summit
View of Lake Placid from the Whiteface Mountain summit

Whiteface is home to the most challenging ski resort terrain available anywhere in the East, a real powder playground for advanced skiers and snowboarders. This shouldn’t put beginners off though, as there’s a whole section of the mountain reserved for gentle green trails, safely away from the speed demons racing down the steeps. Although, the resort gets a raw deal from some, labelled ‘Iceface’ for the numbingly cold conditions and questionable snow quality that can be encountered while skiing here. There’s no accommodation at the base of Whiteface Mountain, so Lake Placid is your best bet for accommodation and off-mountain dining.

Map View

Known for

Genuine state park skiing with quieter slopes than Killington and Stowe

Highlights

  • A classic state park mountain for real skiers!
  • Dedicated beginners area is perfect for learning the basics
  • Quality extreme terrain for intermediates and advanced
  • Aerial tramway doesn’t run mid-week (Tues-Thurs)

Closest airports

Franconia Airport (1B5) - 14 mi (20 minute drive)
Mount Washington Regional Airport - 30 mi (40 minute drive)
views of echo lake from cannon mountain
Views of Echo Lake

Nestled within Franconia Notch State Park, Cannon Mountain truly is a local’s mountain, where real skiers come to race the black runs and tear through the trees. Owned and operated by New Hampshire State, this isn’t a ski resort of glamour and glitz, but it does have some remarkable skiing heritage including hosting the first World Cup race ever. Nothing is sugar-coated at Cannon, but that’s all part of its hardcore skier atmosphere. What Cannon Mountain doesn’t provide is much off the slopes, so forget ski-in/ski-out hotels or fancy restaurants. Your best bet for somewhere comfortable to stay is in nearby Lincoln or Littleton, both around a 15-minute drive away.

Map View

Known for

Its gnarly terrain, natural beauty, and being a proud skiers-only mountain!

Highlights

  • Experts will find plenty to challenge them including a frozen waterfall to huck off
  • Inexpensive place to ski
  • All about skiing on natural snow
  • Expect long lift lines on weekends and powder days

Closest airports

Burlington Intl. Airport - 32 mi (50 minute drive)
Morrisville-Stowe State Airport - 35 mi (1 hour drive)
iconic single chairlift mad river glen
The iconic single chair lift

Now here’s a rare breed of ski resort with the motto ‘Ski it if you can’. Owned by a ski co-operative, Mad River Glen is a true legend of the skiing world with only one of two single chairs in the entire country! The ski terrain on offer here is diverse, complete with natural glades, steep bumps, and narrow winding trails cut to follow the natural contours of the mountain. Slow lifts, limited lodging might throw off some skiers but Mad River Glen offers one of the most unusual and unique skiing experiences in the country and is not to be missed!

Map View

Known for

Old fashioned New England resort, great skiing for intermediates and advanced

Highlights

  • Best mountain views in the East
  • Terrain best suited for upper intermediates and advanced
  • No-frills vibe which makes it feel like home
  • Chairlift to the summit is frequently closed

Closest airports

Mount Washington Regional Airport - 32 mi (40 minute drive)
Portland Intl. Jetport - 78 mi (2 hour drive)
wildcat mountain views east coast
Best mountain views of the East!

First impressions are deceiving at Wildcat, so don’t let the dated base lodge and lack of facilities put you off. At the peak of Wildcat Mountain, the greatest view of Mount Washington will stun you before the skiing even begins! There’s no denying that the terrain here is best suited for advanced skiers, but upper intermediates will have a blast too. Another great thing about this place is that all the runs meet up at the same spot, making it difficult to get lost, so family ski trips work well here. Best of all, the famed après-ski of North Conway village is just down the road, rated the Best Ski Town in America.

The 10 Best Ski Resorts on the East Coast – UPDATED 2020/21
Mont Tremblant
Killington Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort
Jay Peak
Sugarbush Resort
Sugarloaf
Whiteface Mountain Resort
Cannon Mountain
Mad River Glen
Wildcat Mountain Ski Resort
Mont Tremblant