They hem about crowds and haw about prices. But in the end, readers give Killington its due because they simply have to. Terrain? No one in the East touches the Beast's 1,182 acres. Length of season? Tops again, thanks to unlimited snowmaking power. Nightlife? Nothing beats the access road for winter-carnival craziness. In every way, Killington is the all-you-can-eat buffet of Eastern skiing, with more lifts, more trails, more lodging and, yes, more people than any of its peers. If you like your ski areas big and lively, you'll love it here. But not all do: "It's crazy on Saturdays," complains one reader. Others gripe about "dangerously bad, macho hot-dog skiers" and "too many sketchy trail crossings." But at a ski resort this big, most find exactly what they're looking for. Steeps on the Canyon Quad or Outer Limits; family fun at Snowdon, Rams Head or Pico Peak; high-altitude groomers on South Ridge. Or just chuck the trail map and explore. "You'll need days to learn the whole area," a reader says. Vermont's second-highest peak (and highest lift-served skiing) serves up splendid views of the surrounding mountainscape. And while some readers rue the lack of a pedestrian-friendly village (plans to build one are on hold), the access road offers copious choices for dining and lodging, from four-star to family-budget. Sure, it's crowded sometimes. But great places usually are. -J.C.
WHAT'S NEW Environmental upgrades to snowmaking system; Internet kiosks at base lodges ($15 per hour, for those who must).
A GOOD DEAL Opener package: two nights' lodging, two-days' skiing, from $112; opening-Nov. 26 (800-621-6867; www.killington.com).
MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge, Lifts, Dining, Après, Terrain Parks; SILVER Family Programs, Off-Hill Activities, Lodging, Access, Snow.
HIGH/LOW RANK Après (4), Dining (12), Terrain Parks (14); Weather (46), Scenery (46), Service (50), Value (54).
DON'T MISS Kiddie Snowcross: Kids get a taste of X Games excitement on snowmobiles and courses that are just their size.
READER REMARKS (+) "Great social resort." "Ambassadors are great." "Huge variety of well-maintained terrain."
(-) "Too commercial." "Ugly resort development." "Overpriced; service is declining."