Let’s not beat around the bush: the East isn’t known for its snow quality. But that makes it all the more impressive what Eastern ski resorts have learned to do with what mother nature does throw their way. Thanks to expanded snowmaking and quality grooming, skiers can find objectively good snow conditions at Eastern ski resorts—especially if they stick to resorts that, courtesy of their geographical locations, benefit from natural snowfall more than their neighbors. According to SKI’s 2022 Reader Resort Survey, these are the top Eastern ski resorts that have a reputation for having the best snow—or having the best snow management.
Top 10 Resorts in the East for Snow
No. 10: Sugarbush, Vt.
Other Strengths: Challenge (#6), Terrain Variety (#7)
Weaknesses: Family-Friendly (#17), Value (#17)
What Readers Say
“This has been my ‘home’ mountain for many years. The terrain and snow is some of the best in the East. And the people of The Valley can’t be beat!”
“Sugarbush is great at being Sugarbush, even with Alterra’s new ownership. The skiing and riding is varied with gorgeous runs, the vibe is 100% pure syrupy Vermont and it manages to not be too big. The snow is very well taken care of with nice smooth runs and plenty of bumps and trees to satisfy any type of skiing or skier. Want to be challenged? Castlerock can give you that. Want to race down the slope? Check out Inverness. Want some cruising with a little variety: Sleeper has a great view with just enough trees to make it interesting.”
No. 8: Wachusett Mountain, Mass.
Other Strengths: Access (#1), Family (#3)
Weaknesses: Challenge (#20), Terrain Variety (#20)
What Readers Say
“Great local. family-friendly mountain that has NASTAR racing. They always have great snowmaking and grooming that rivals any of the bigger mountains in New England.”
“For what it is, a modest-sized ski area proximate to the urban agglomeration 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.”
No. 8: Holiday Valley, N.Y.
Other Strengths: Grooming (#1, tie with Hidden Valley), Lifts (#1)
Weaknesses: Challenge (#16), Terrain Variety (#13)
What Readers Say
“Holiday Valley is a friendly, medium-sized resort that is always updating its infrastructure. The snowmaking is amazing. It could rain during the week and then as soon as the temps drop, they are cranking out the snow to save the weekend. You can also find plenty of lifts on the expert trails that have little to no lines.”
“Snow quality and conditions were incredible (thanks to lake effect and snowmaking). Lift systems are amazing, with a new high-speed quad going in now and a high-speed six pack coming in a year or two. Snow quality and conditions were awesome. Lift attendants were very friendly, fun, and helpful. Après was always a fun time, even during COVID, as the resort went all-out to keep the flavor as much as they could while still keeping us safe. The town of Ellicottville is something special. Restaurants, ski shops like Mud Sweat & Gears really make it incredible. I feel extremely lucky to have this ski area 45 minutes from home.”
No. 7: Hidden Valley Resort, Pa.
Other Strengths: Grooming (#1, tie with Holiday Valley), Access (#3)
Weaknesses: Nightlife (#18), Challenge (#19)
What Readers Say
“A terrific resort for beginner and intermediate skiers. Great snowmaking, so they have snow even when other area resorts don’t and there are almost never long lift lines.”
“Hidden Valley is a great family resort. It has a much different vibe than its sister resort Seven Springs. It focuses more on being a family mountain than a destination resort. It’s pretty chill overall—both in feel and terrain. It’s small and not particularly challenging, but it has a few harder runs that are enjoyable. If you compared it to music, Hidden Valley is more easy listening with a few rock songs in the mix while Seven Springs is rock and roll. Runs are short, as are the lift rides. They have a really good snowmaking system and aggressively make snow. I think their system has better technology with the TechnoAlpin guns and fans.”
No. 6: Sunday River, Maine
Other Strengths: Grooming (#3), Lifts (#8)
Weaknesses: Family (#18), Local Flavor (#18)
What Readers Say
“I’ve been a season pass holder for many years, and I’d recommend it to skiers of all abilities. End to end, there is terrain for all abilities. Snow making is great and grooming (ability to recover after foul weather) is also great. Once you know the mountain, it’s fairly easy to avoid the crowds.”
“Sunday River is a ridge line with ‘peaks.’ The problem arises in that you are always on a peak, but want to be on another peak. It’s like the classic that Maine saying, ‘You can’t get there from here.'”
“My favorite ski resort in New England. Good, varied terrain and excellent layout. Snow quality is good, the only negative occasionally is the windy weather. If mountain is fully open then you can spend a week here exploring.”
No. 5: Okemo Mountain Resort, Vt.
Other Strengths: Grooming (#4), Dining (#6)
Weaknesses: Variety (#15), Local Flavor (#14)
“We went to Okemo several times this year. Each time we were impressed by snow quality, staff courtesy, superb lift experience, and resort adherence to Covid-19 health protocols. The town of Ludlow is a superb ski town and the resort offers fantastic challenge, although the Jackson Gore side of the mountain is vastly superior in quality and experience than the old base mountain. Okemo is a gem of a ski area that has continued with the tradition of excellence of the previous owners, with Vail now in charge.”
“A great cruiser mountain but there is nothing really challenging about it. It had two natural runs that were great but now they’ve put snowmaking on them so they are ZZZZZ. They do a really good job on setting up bumps on Sels and Plunge, but need to add moguls to some other runs to get longer bump lines. They used to set up bump lines down Big Bang but never do any more. There are some severe bottlenecks with the lifts. Basically I get my fast laps in at rope drop and then split once the crowds start to fill in.”
“Okemo has the best blend of skiing and Vermont style to make it Best in the East to me. Far enough away from big cities to keep crowds down but not so far that it’s a burden for weekend trip. Still has the feel of a local hill even as it has expanded and upgraded facilities over the years.”
No. 4: Sugarloaf, Maine
Other Strengths: Variety (#4), Lifts (#6)
Weaknesses: Value (#13), Lodging (#11)
“For its size, Sugarloaf offers a variety of skiing for all skill levels. Overall, the snowmaking and grooming is well above average, especially during marginal conditions. I bring a group o f 30-40 guests every year. It’s a tradition with us.”
“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.”
“I’ve skied Sugarloaf since we discovered the resort in 1969. Lived in and skied in N.H. most of life but found Sugarloaf’s terrain, snow conditions and friendly, relaxed environment the best in New England—full stop. It’s a skiers mountain and I contend that if you can ski it, you can ski anywhere. Never looked back! It is “out of town” however and limited on off-hill activities.”
No. 3: Killington, Vt.
Other Strengths: Dining (#3), Nightlife (#3)
Weaknesses: Family-Friendly (#19), Local Flavor (#15)
“Best resort in the East. Excellent snow conditions and grooming. Massive amount of terrain and nightlight is second to none.”
“I have been skiing Killington since 1975. THIS is the golden age of Killington…it has never been more skier-friendly than now, especially in this time of Vailification of resorts. Yes, it’s not cheap but offers 50% discount weekdays for N.H./Vt. residents. Appreciated by locals. Because of its size and number of peaks, one can move to the pod that is skiing best to minimize wind, maximize sun, minimize crowding, etc. That is a big plus. Killington is the place for skiers who want adventure. Just navigating the lift and trail system will be challenging for first-timers of any ability. I recommend going with someone familiar with the layout and quirks the first time. Longest season in the East—their commitment to snowmaking and keeping us on snow is #1.”
“Killington is a great spot for skiing and après skiing. Great nightlife, challenging terrain, variety of terrain, it has it all. Maybe not as kid-friendly as Okemo, but does have areas for beginners as well.”
No. 2: Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.
Other Strengths: Service (#1), Family-Friendly (#1)
Weaknesses: Challenge (#19), Variety (#19)
“Excellent on-piste terrain on three mountains with good snow coverage and excellent snowmaking abilities. Families are number one at this resort.”
“Great for families. Never any crowds. Feels like authentic Vermont. Reasonable lift ticket prices. Excellent terrain. When the snow is good, it’s really good. Lots of glades. Plenty of secret stashes.”
“For many years I have had a seasons pass for Smuggs and for Stowe. When Vail bought Stowe, I purchased the Epic Pass to allow me to ski at more resorts (especially in California, where I have a free place to crash!) I continued to purchase a Smuggs pass because I love the vibe and terrain and it is an entirely different experience than Stowe. Stowe may have high-speed lifts and longer trails, but you also have to deal with tourists and the whole Vail vibe. Smuggs is so much more laid back, and as a local, I truly appreciate that. I feel at home, often seeing old friends and fellow staff/faculty (I work at a university) on the slopes, in the Black Bear tavern, and the preferred local parking lot. By not installing high-speed lifts, Smuggs has protected the integrity of the mountain. Stowe services so many people per hour that the trails (and even woods) often get scraped off quickly. At Smuggs, you can always find freshies somewhere. One thing I’ve noticed when skiing both sides of the mountain for years is that the weather at Smuggs is always better. I’ve even skied Stowe and Smuggs on the same day and Smuggs was sunny and pleasant, while Stowe was windy, icy, and nasty. Although I ski at Stowe frequently due to convenience, I find Smuggs to be superior in weather, snow conditions, and general vibe.”
No. 1: Jay Peak, Vt.
Other Strengths: Challenge (#2), Value (#4)
Weaknesses: Grooming (#17), Access (#19)
“Best and most consistent snow on the East Coast. Low crowds. Endless tree skiing.”
“SNOW, snow, snow…always the best at Jay. Big mountain skiing without the crowd hassles. The best mountains anywhere, friendly and supportive.”
“Name another mountain in the North East that averages over 350″ 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.”
“I LOVE Jay Peak. I was able to go a handful of times—what held me back initially was the price. I didn’t have a season pass so I could only visit when I got discounts on lift tickets. But every time I’ve gone to Jay, I had a really fantastic experience and wish I had the chance to go more.”