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Resort Guide 2023

Top 10 Most Accessible Resorts in the East

If you want to spend more time on the slopes than in the car, head for these ski resorts that are just a stone's throw away from major hubs.

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One thing the ski resorts in the East definitely have going for them: most are just a stone’s throw from major metro areas and hubs and offer easy access. We know traffic can be just as much of an issue as out West, but on the whole, there are plenty of ski areas in the East that make for a quick day trip (heck, you can even link multiple resorts in one day). If you’re looking to spend more time on the slopes than in the car, head for the following 10 resorts—according to readers who voted in SKI’s 2023 Reader Resort Survey, these are the most accessible ski areas in the East. See the entire survey results here.

Top 10 Resorts in the East for Access

No. 10: Mad River Glen, Vt. 

Score: 8.16
Other Strengths: Terrain Variety, Challenge

Snow Quality, Grooming

Mad River Glen RG23
Terrain variety and challenge make Mad River Glen a skier favorite, but access is up there too. (Photo: Courtesy of Mad River Glen)

What Readers Say

“As a skier, you owe it to yourself to ski at a place where the moguls have been setup and skied only by skiers. You will then realize how messed up the bumps are everywhere else that allows snowboarding. Same goes for the tree lines.”

“Mad River has the most interesting terrain in the East. The pub at the mountain is first rate, and the atmosphere is friendly, old-fashioned skiing. But the wild card is Mother Nature.”

No. 9: Killington Resort, Vt. 

Score: 8.25
Other Strengths: 
Terrain Variety, Challenge
Weaknesses: Value, Family-Friendly

Killington scenic
Killington’s size and location make it a favorite among skiers from Vermont and nearby states, so be prepared to share the slopes. (Photo: Courtesy of Killington Resort)

What Readers Say

“One of the best ski areas in the East. Good terrain, good grooming. Easy to access.”

“Plenty for everyone. Variety of trails. Good snowmaking. Plenty to do on the access road. Can get crowded.”

“Beast of the East with the longest season around. Whatever terrain you want, they got it times ten. Even on crowded days you can spread out and find space. A real treat for the real boarder or skier.”

No. 8. Magic Mountain, Vt.

Score: 8.26
Other Strengths: Value, Local Flavor

Weaknesses: Grooming, Lodging

Magic Mountain ski area
Magic Mountain is a no-frills ski area that’s beloved for its indy vibe and accessibility. (Photo: Courtesy of Magic Mountain)

What Readers Say

“A unique experience where you feel and are treated like an invited guest. Never crowded and great value.”

“Magic Mountain is one of a kind! The vibe is so laid back, the locals are very friendly, great ski patrol, great bar, and everybody does everything to make the guest experience superb!”

“The terrain is great and makes up for the older chairs. They don’t groom the place to an inch of its life so experts have plenty of places to play. Snowmaking is improving.”

No. 7: Smugglers’ Notch, Vt. 

Score: 8.42
Other Strengths: Guest Service, Overall Satisfaction

Lifts, Nightlife

Ski slopes Smugglers' Notch
Smuggs has it all: challenging terrain, great grooming, and a family-friendly atmosphere. (Photo: Courtesy of Smugglers’ Notch)

What Readers Say

“My recommendation is twofold. For me, I like Smuggs because of the ungodly steep expert terrain, as well as the superbly maintained glades and the fantastic access to out-of-bounds woods skiing. And the snow is usually the best in Vermont. Conversely, Smuggs is also the best ski resort in the country for families with all the programs a family could possibly need and plenty of skiing for beginners and intermediates as well as the experts. Smuggs IS a family and they take care of everyone.”

“Great access, varied terrain, affordable, and well-maintained.”

“We love skiing at Smuggs! It is an amazing family resort catering to all ages and skiing skills. Customer service is top class.”

No. 6: Bretton Woods, N.H.

Score: 8.79
Other Strengths: Grooming, Lifts

Weaknesses: Challenge, Nightlife

Bretton Woods ski area
Easy access, beautiful scenery, and great guest service make Bretton Woods a favorite among locals. (Photo: Courtesy of Bretton Woods)

What Readers Say

“I love this resort and always recommend to friends. It’s family friendly, well groomed, easy to access, and staff are friendly. Just love this mountain.”

“Best for families. Easy access to slopes and well defined areas where you can let your kids roam. Best scenery with White Mountains across from resort.”

“Great customer service, skiing conditions, and accessibility as I am a sit-skier.”

No. 5: Holiday Valley, N.Y.

Score: 8.81
Other Strengths: Lifts, Lodging
Challenge, Snow Quality

Ellicottville shopping
The town of Ellicottville just three minutes up the road from Holiday Valley is a major draw in its own right. (Photo: Courtesy of Holiday Valley)

What Readers Say

“It’s the hidden gem of the East and managed well. Snowmaking and grooming crews are second to none. Lift speeds and accessibility accommodate all parts of the hill and skier traffic (if any, it’s rare). The town of Ellicottville makes Holiday Valley even more phenomenal with multiple restaurant and lodging options. Although the resort is on the small size with the number of runs, they have plenty of room to continue to expand. I’d be lying if I said they didn’t lack vertical, but they do maximize every inch of the resort. Holiday Valley is perfect for East Coast lovers looking for a great all around stop. Oh and the lake effect snow, it’s something special!”

No. 4: Cannon Mountain, N.H.

Score: 8.95
Other Strengths: Terrain, Challenge
Weaknesses: Snow, Après

What Readers Say

“Cannon is a great mountain for the price with lots of challenging terrain, and close by for a day trip.”

“This a true New England ski area with great skier type trails. It is for real skiers not the faint of heart, from the front five double blacks to the never ending blue trails. It was a fun mountain to ski with our children and grand kids ages 6-12 who were able to easily ski the whole mountain. The only disappointment we had was the tram closed the day before we got there. We will definitely return again.”

“The advanced/expert terrain at Cannon is great when there is enough snow.”

No. 3: Waterville Valley, N.H.

Score: 8.99
Other Strengths: 
Family Friendly, Local Flavor
Weaknesses: Snow, Dining

Waterville town square
The independently owned and operated ski area is just outside the town of Waterville Valley and an easily accessible via multiple thoroughfares. (Photo: Courtesy of Waterville Valley)

What Readers Say

“Had phenomenal powder days this year on back to back days. The second time I drove to Cannon mountain first with the intent to ride Cannon, but Cannon was closed due to wind. Waterville was on the way home so I stopped by to see if they were open. Waterville indeed was open with marvelous conditions. 14″ powder. The terrain is fun for all ages. I love that they are on the Indy Pass.”

“We bought a house 20 min away to be close to this resort. It’s independent and we love it.”

“Waterville is a very accessible mountain. My son and I spent a lot of his early days skiing here. We like to go back from time to time for variety.”

No. 2: Loon Mountain, N.H. 

Score: 9.0
Other Strengths: Grooming, Family-Friendly

Weaknesses: Value, Dining

What Readers Say

“It’s like chicken parm. You can count on a solid day. It can get a bit crazy with crowds on weekends, but the lifts get ’em up and spread them out. The 8 can be a gong show, however, and doesn’t go high enough. Wish they would run the East Basin chair more so you could ski the main summit without needing to take the gondola. And the quad replacing 7 Brothers should help move the park people much more efficiently.”

“They do a great job with grooming and snowmaking. They also have long vertical runs off their three major lifts.”

“I wish they would keep more black diamond trails open. Very accessible which makes crowds an issue.”

No. 1: Wachusett Mountain, Mass.

Score: 9.42
Other Strengths:
Family Friendly, Guest Service
Weaknesses: Challenge, Lodging

Boston city skyline from Wachusett ski area
You can literally see the Boston skyline from the slopes of Wachusett. If you work downtown, you can sneak out for a morning or afternoon of shredding and still put in some time behind your desk. (Photo: Courtesy of Wachusett)

What Readers Say

“Easy access and reasonable rates. I’d recommend it to families and local enthusiasts. It is special due to helpful staff, consistently good conditions, and friendly skiers.”

“Our local mountain. Yes, it’s small but this is central Massachusetts. First, they are absolute wizards—and better than any other area I’ve ever skied—at making great skiable conditions out of almost anything Mother Nature hands down. We’ve had wonderful skiing even when it pours rain one day then freezes up like a block the next. Their snowmakers and groomers are the best you can get. Second, the family that owns it is involved and acts like they value the skiing community. Family members are always around, in the lodge and on the mountain, and I mean every day. They’re all friendly and approachable.”