There are still plenty of bark-eating powderhounds who adore Jay Peak. It’s just harder to see them now. For one, they’re in the trees every run—off-piste glades and deep snowpack are still Jay specialties. But today the resort attracts a new crowd, drawn by all the new amenities, including three big hotels, a hockey rink, and a massive waterpark. Today’s visitor is as likely to be in town for a hockey tournament, or just to play in the pool, as to hit the slopes.
Jay deserves to have a cult following just for the poutine at the Tram Haus bar alone. But in fact, Vermont’s northernmost resort earned its hardcore following long before its controversial EB-5 Foreign Investor Act–fueled explosion of slopeside luxury and diversions, which has utterly transformed the place over the past decade.
Long before the high-end hotels and stupendously huge slopeside water park, there was a mountain, a tram, an above-average snowpack, and an unusual policy: If you could see it, you could ski it. That is, the trees weren’t off-limits, as at most resorts back then; if you wanted to ski them—safely and sensibly, of course—no one was going to pull your pass. Real skiers loved it, driving there in droves (and a long drive it remains today) to tear up the glades from Timbuktu to Beyond Beaver Pond and battle the summit headwall. Somehow that vibe endures, despite the masses drawn by Jay’s new amenities. Some long-timers are a little grumpy about the upscale makeover. (“Jay has overdeveloped itself.”
“Once a great mountain; now a conglomerate business resort.”) Others suspect the water park helps keep the gapers off the hill. (“It’s still Jay. You go there to ski.”) Bottom line: It’s the trees and great snow that keeps them coming back.
COME FOR THE...
OFF-THE-TRAIL MAP Green Beret, skier’s left off Vermonter, might be Jay’s best glade. When the tram’s closed, use Bonaventure and hit Vertigo.
LODGING The oldest of the new hotels, the Tram Haus Lodge, has charisma that appeals to fans of boutique inns.
FAMILY ACTIVITY Jay’s massive Pump House Water Park. Yes, it’s a sign of the apocalypse, but it’s an incredibly fun one.