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Resort Guide 2022

These are the Eastern Resorts with the Most Authentic Vibe

There are no skiers on the planet more passionate than Eastern skiers. These are their picks for resorts with the most character.

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No ski region gets the Local Flavor category like the East. Whatever Eastern ski resorts lack in vertical, they more than make up for in sheer enthusiasm, spirit, and community. Eastern skiers are known for their fierce loyalty to their favorite destinations, so if you can relate, and crave that same sense of community and commitment, then this is your list. These are the top 10 resort in the East with unique sense of place.

Top 10 Resorts in the East for Local Flavor

10. Sugarloaf Resort, Maine

Score: 8.27
Other Strengths: Snow (#4), Variety (#4)

Value (#17), Family (#17)

The Rack Sugarloaf
(: Courtesy of The Rack)

What Readers Say

“Great and unique skiers’ culture emanates from every inch of The Loaf. There are more accessible places, but in the East, there’s no better mountain. I see Sugarloaf bumper stickers in Colorado and Utah – inevitably these people are excellent skiers who love Sugarloaf. Will always be my home mountain.”

“Arguably the best ski resort in the East. The remoteness of the area means it’s less crowded. The Burnt Mountain area gives you tons of glades, and cat skiing. Lift system keeps people spread out, and the coming West Mountain upgrades will be great. Can’t wait to go back!”

“The Loaf is what the iconic sticker shows, 2,800′ vertical, which can be easily accessed (with local knowledge helps) as a twist to the old Maine saying, “You CAN get there from here!”

9. Sugarbush Resort, Vt.

Score: 8.33
Other Strengths: Variety (#7), Challenge (#6)

Weaknesses: Grooming (#30), Family (#30)

What Readers Say

“Sugarbush is magic and enchanted with classic Vermont trails that snake flume-like down double fall lines and frosted white peaks. Plus it’s massive. Just a bit of a drive or else I’d go all the time. Pour some sugar one me!”

“You have to ski Castle Rock when the snow falls. Its all natural moguls on most to those trails and its worth every minute you stand in line at the double lift. It reminds me of Mad River Glen. Ski it if you can!”

“Sugarbush has some of the last feel of old-school Vermont skiing.”

8. Wachusett Mountain, Mass.

Score: 8.41
Other Strengths: Family (#3), Access (#1)

Weaknesses: Challenge (#20), Variety (#20)

Wachusett Local Flavor
(Photo: Wachusett Mountain)

What Readers Say

“For what it is, a modest-sized ski area proximate to the urban agglomoration of Eastern Massachusetts, WaWa is a gem: from the beautiful setting, to the on-hill product (lifts and snowmaking) to their ski school, junior race program, and guest services. Among the New England ski areas that our family has skied at, it belongs to a very small handful that actually serve food that goes beyond the usual chili/hot dog/burger/limp-salad fare. I know, because our kids were in their race program for several years, and we did not have to stop by Dunkin’s on the way there! Yes, it does get very busy at times, but this year’s reservation system helped even out the crowds.”

“Just a great place to go to. They treat the kids so well, after all they are the next money-makers. Great staff, great owners that seem to care about everyone. Best move I ever made, coming here!”

“Wachusett does everything right. What it lacks in pure vertical, it more than makes up for in access, efficiency, and operational quality.”

7. Whiteface Mountain, N.Y.

Score: 8.46
Other Strengths: Nightlife (#4), Après (#4)

Weaknesses: Grooming (#18), Service (#19)


What Readers Say

“Hey it’s Whiteface, something for everyone to ski. The patio parties in the Spring are historic. Seeing the Olympic runs and start shacks. The views from the top looking at Vermont (who’s a flatlander?!).”

“Whiteface/Lake Placid is special! They hosted the Olympics in this beautiful Northern New York town, and it boggles the mind. The people there are great, on my last visit I was lucky enough to meet the “Mayor of Whiteface,” Barb from Wilmington.”

“This is a real skiers’ mountain. No glitz or glamour here. Lots of great terrain. And the cold keeps the wimps away.”

6. Cannon Mountain, N.H.

Score: 8.62
Other Strengths: Lifts (#2), Variety (#1)

Weaknesses: Nightlife (#20), Grooming (#18)

What Readers Say

“Bottom to top high-speed lifts or gondolas and Snowbasin does all of the ‘little things’ really well. I have never, not one time—over the course of nine years of season passes—found the resort to be anything less than immaculately prepared and staffed by individuals who go out of their way to help anyone and everyone.”

“Great vibe, great offering, not pretentious, enough terrain to keep a season pass holder happy and challenged, great adaptive ski program (my wife is an adaptive skier).”

“I hate letting people in on our secret but sharing is caring. Our resort is one of the best. They work hard for opening day and maintain the mountain so well during the ski season. It can be super busy on Saturday but that’s because the secret is out.”

5. Jay Peak Resort, Vt.

Score: 8.63
Other Strengths: Snow (#1), Challenge (#2)

Grooming (#17), Access (#19)


What Readers Say

“Ja-POW is a real saying and when you can get to Jay Peak on a powder day you won’t be able to walk the following day. I have never skied so hard as I have done at Jay Peak. Miles of terrain, amazing glades, and the tram is truly unique.”

“Locals are sooooo proud of their mountain! The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. People are yahoo everywhere. Great woods and off-piste skiing.”

“Name another mountain in the Northeast that averages over 350 inches per season. I’ll wait. Seriously though, Jay’s home. Anybody who braves the cold and the drive is just as stoked to get after it as I am and that makes them family.”

4. Mont Tremblant, Qué.

Score: 8.77
Other Strengths: Après(#3), Lodging (#1)
Weaknesses: Snow (#19), Lifts (#13)

What Readers Say

“Very cute little village. The people of Quebec are extremely welcoming and warm. Ski conditions at their best in the East.”

“This resort is the best one-stop resort for eastern Ontario and West Quebec. Lots of space and terrain for all skill levels. Tons of venues and alternate activities.”

“I ski mostly blue/black groomed runs. Tremblant has a great variety for me and snow conditions and grooming are excellent. Lots of great food/lodging options nearby and, living in Ontario, it’s the closest legitimate resort. It is very busy though, so I avoid it on weekends.”

3. Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.

Score: 9.23
Other Strengths: Grooming (#1), Family (#1)

Weaknesses: Lifts (#14), Dining (#9)

Smugglers' Notch Local Flavor
(Photo: Smugglers’ Notch)

What Readers Say

“A very special place for our family over 25 years and still strongly resonates with our adult children now in their 20s and 30s. It’s the ‘feeling’ Smuggs gives you … would highly recommend to all active families.”

“I go for a week every year look forward to it all year long. Been coming since my children were young they can’t wait to bring their own children. Great skiing, accommodations, fun bars and restaurants nearby and at the resort. A shuttle system that is amazing. Friendly staff, just perfect.”

“Smugglers’ Notch is very special. There’s something for everyone. You can satisfy a group of skiers of all abilities, the ski instructors are amazing, the terrain is unbeatable, and access to side country is fantastic. There are trails at Smuggs you just can’t really replicate elsewhere. The crowds are kept at bay due to the slow doubles and to me that’s a plus. The scenery is fantastic, with views of Mansfield and, on a clear day, the White Mountains.”

2. Holiday Valley, N.Y.

Score: 9.24
Other Strengths: Dining (#1), Lifts (#1)

Weaknesses: Challenge (#16), Variety (#13)

Holiday Valley Local Flavor
(Photo: Holiday Valley)

What Readers Say

“Holiday Valley is an amazing resort that reinvests in the mountain and making ski vacations great for families. It’s the best ski resort in N.Y. and within driving distance of Northeast Ohio.”

“This is my favorite resort in my area. Grew up skiing here. It grew with me. It’s like family with the people who work there and the friends I ski with. Awesome “lake affect” snow, meticulous grooming, and a good variety of terrain. Not the most vertical but the most for the vertical it has! It is the gold standard that I use for comparison and recommendations to others.”

“I’ve skied there for 50 years and watched it grow and prosper. I recommend it to anyone. The town of Ellicottville adds tremendously to the total experience of a visit here.”

1. Mad River Glen, Vt.

Score: 9.36
Other Strengths:
Challenge (#1), Value (#1)
Weaknesses: Grooming (#20), Lodging (#17)

Mad River Glen Local Flavor
(Photo: Mad River Glen)

What Readers Say

“Mad River Glen is not a ‘resort,’ it is mountain community with the spirit of adventure and enthusiasm. The terrain is as challenging as anywhere in the U.S. and the ongoing maintenance activities are constantly improving access every year. And it is not just for experts; our ski school is tremendous and the trails (not highways) are not crowded. The Single Chair is iconic and really brings us close to the mountain itself. The views are spectacular and when we’re done the pub is best, with real food cooked by real people. There’s no where like it.”

“A truly unique experience! Great ambiance, fantastic lifties, friendly staff, the best local microbrews on tap, affordable, family friendly, with programs designed to develop awesome little rippers and world-class freeskiers. The amount of kids as young as 2 on the mountain blows my mind!”

“Low stress, easy to be myself, no fancy people. My kids found it to be a wonderful and challenging playground and found plenty to challenge them as they grew up year after year. Same people there every year feels like family. Kids don’t get lost with only one base lodge.”

“Old-school New England trails that are rarely groomed. Recommended for the hearty-souled adventurer.”