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Resort Guide 2023

Top 10 Resorts in the East for Grooming

The votes from SKI's 2023 Reader Resort Survey are in: these Eastern resorts are the best in the grooming department.

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Don’t underestimate the power (or importance) of grooming when it comes to turning what could be a terrible snow day into a great ski day. While the East is often plagued by freezing temps and snow with high moisture content (hence, bulletproof ice), those weather conditions can make for excellent snowmaking and—if the snowcats do their jobs well—excellent coverage on groomers that will, in fact, support a carve.

Resort Guide 2023: Top 50 Resorts in North America

According to readers who voiced their opinions in SKI’s 2023 Reader Resort Survey, the resorts on this list are the best at taking what Mother Nature gives them and smoothing it into beautiful corduroy. Some of these resorts even groom their runs twice a day—can you imagine?!

Top 10 Resorts in the East for Grooming

No. 10: Mont Tremblant, Qué.

Score: 8.19
Other Strengths: Après, Lodging
Weaknesses: Challenge, Value

Ski patroller Mont Tremblant
The early bird gets the freshest corduroy at Mont Tremblant. If you’re lucky, ski patrol will leave you some. (Photo: Courtesy of Mont Tremblant)

What Readers Say

“It is European skiing experience you can drive to! The village is fantastic, lodging options are endless, food is fantastic, and you cannot beat Petite Caribou for Après scene! Nightlife is outstanding and the people are extremely kind. Just a happy vibe from the moment you arrive.”

“I would say it is the best resort in eastern Québec.”

No. 9: Sugarloaf Resort, Maine

Score: 8.26
Other Strengths: Challenge, Local Flavor
Weaknesses: Access, Nightlife

Sugarloaf Grooming RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Sugarloaf Resort)

What Readers Say

“Sugarloaf is the ultimate skier’s mountain with great snow, variety, challenge, and character. A testament to their grooming, snow making and snow maintenance is that on April 20, 2022 the ‘Loaf still had wall to wall trail coverage on all man-made trails with several natural trails still open as well.”

“Sugarloaf is a great mountain with excellent terrain and great grooming. It’s just too far for day trips from where I live near Portland.”

“Great people, great conditions because of the grooming and snowmakers.”

No. 8: Holiday Valley, N.Y.

Score: 8.29
Other Strengths: Access, Lifts
Weaknesses: Challenge, Value

Holiday Valley Grooming RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Holiday Valley/Ashley Baron)

What Readers Say

“Holiday Valley and Ellicottville are home base, and the getting is good at home. Quality laps, impeccable snowmaking and grooming, amazing après opportunities, and the village of Ellicottville there for more good times. Be sure to hit the Depot for the best après bar in the East.”

“Holiday Valley has three of the nicest lodges of any eastern ski area. They are continually improving their already great lift system. They have state-of-the-art snowmaking and snow grooming. A great family-oriented ski area.”

“The guest service, lift system, snowmaking and grooming are top notch. The après ski and nightlife in Ellicottville are comparable to those I have visited out west (i.e. Park City, Breckenridge, Aspen, Vail), but Ellicottville has a more intimate feel than those larger resorts. Ellicottville has a ski history dating back to the mid-1930s and Holiday Valley respects that history as an independent ski resort in this day of mega resorts.”

No. 7: Waterville Valley, N.H.

Score: 8.31
Other Strengths: Access, Family-Friendly
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Lifts

Snowcat grooming machine Waterville Valley
(Photo: Courtesy of Waterville Valley)

What Readers Say

“No lift lines, great snow conditions and grooming, low prices, friendly staff.”

“Waterville recently opened Green Peak and this has added some great terrain to the resort. Plus a new high Speed 6-pack is being installed for next winter. Family-friendly with great kids and adult programs. Good snowmaking and superb grooming. Snowsports school has a lot of certified instructors to help increase your ability.”

“Varied terrain, excellent grooming—no ice until after 2 p.m. ( rare for NE), best lodge, friendly lift attendants who pay attention, no lines. This place also has a Silver Streak ski club for over-50 skiers.”

No. 6: Loon Mountain, N.H. 

Score: 8.36
Other Strengths: Access, Lodging
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Value

Loon ski area grooming
If you liked groomed cruisers and steeps, Loon Mountain has you covered. (Photo: Loon Mountain)

What Readers Say

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

“A nice mountain with a lot of interesting skiing. Great mountain for beginners and intermediates, and for experts who like groomed steeps. Not so good for bump skiers. Bumps are limited to small areas of slopes with “Bumps” signs, which I found really funny. Dining is limited at the area the last time I went, and I stayed far enough away (about 20 miles) that I didn’t get a sample of the nightlife.”

“Loon is my home mountain which I skied at 30-plus days last season. I’d recommend it to someone who particularly loves groomers and sometimes ventures off to trees/moguls here and there.”

No. 5: Killington Resort, Vt.

Score: 8.41
Other Strengths: Terrain, Challenge
Weaknesses: Value, Snow Quality

Killington, Vermont
While Killington is better known for its moguls and off-piste steeps than its corduroy, this resort is no slouch in the grooming department. (Photo: Chandler Burgess)

What Readers Say

“I have skied Killington since the ’70s and always relied on their coverage, regardless of the amount of snow in a year. Recently, they have upped their game as far as coverage and grooming.”

“I live in Ludlow and used to primarily ski Okemo but, given the long lift lines, poor snowmaking and grooming brought in by Vail Resorts, I ski Killington and Sugarbush more frequently now.”

No. 4: Smugglers’ Notch, Vt. 

Score: 8.54
Other Strengths: Terrain, Challenge
Weaknesses: Dining, Lifts

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

“The terrain is great for all levels from beginner to expert. There is usually a lot of snow. Accommodations are great and I feel very comfortable at the resort.”

“Smuggs has the variety of terrain that is great all season, but when it gets a good snowfall it makes the terrain unbelievable! Never crowded so it really has mastered the family-friendly aspect.”

“Smuggs is what I call “real Vermont.” Great terrain and snow conditions, considering it is on the East Coast. Lift system is amongst the worst in the USA. Near zero dollars invested, they never improve them.”

No. 4: Okemo Mountain Resort, Vt. 

Score: 8.70
Other Strengths: Snow, Family
Weaknesses: Après, Challenge

"None"
(Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts)

What Readers Say

“Best in the East for terrain, snowmaking, terrain variety, and length of season. It has excellent grooming and few match its natural snowfall, especially its lake effect snow, which can make for surprising powder days. Crowds used to be a problem, but now that all mountains price out the masses and provide amenities that cater more to the rich only, it is hard to compare it to what I would call a real crowd. Fun as hell, in any case.”

“Great cruisers, lifts are spread out enough that you can get away from the crowds. Some of the best grooming in the East and enough glades to keep it interesting.”

No. 3: Sunday River, Maine

Score: 8.65
Other Strengths: Terrain, Snow Quality
Weaknesses: Value, Après

Skier on slope at Sunday River
Sunday River has earned a reputation for its perfectly groomed runs. It’s not hard to see why. (Photo: Courtesy of Sunday River)

What Readers Say

“Sunday River is my local hill. Great terrain variety. Good to very good snowmaking and grooming. Great recovery from freeze-thaw/rain cycles. Can be very windy (lots of wind holds/lift closures).”

“Pricey for a family, but great to go with friends.”

“I don’t know how I never discovered Sunday River until this past year, but man what a sick mountain. I feel like they have entire mountain peaks for experts only, which keeps everybody safe. I think their grooming is legendary and needs no discussion, but I actually got them on a bumpy powder day my first time. I feel like even after spending a few days there, I only got to experience part of the mountain and I can’t wait to go back next season.”

No. 2: Wachusett Mountain, Mass.

Score: 8.86
Other Strengths: Access, Guest Service
Weaknesses: Challenge, Nightlife

Groomed ski run Wachusett
Wachusett takes grooming seriously—it unleashes its snowcats on ski runs twice daily. (Photo: Courtesy of Wachusett)

What Readers Say

“I live nearby and ski here the most. The snow making and grooming can’t be beat!!”

“I would recommend it to most skiers who want some runs between their longer drives, except those who want bragging rights. The lift system is especially efficient and on weekdays or weekend mornings allows maximum time on the slopes. The long gentle section for beginners, along with the dedicated high speed quad lift, is a remarkable service for families. The learning experience is also supported by an abundance of gentle intermediate terrain. The flow of skiers throughout the week is enough to finance a superior grooming operation.”

“Wachusett is my local hill. It’s great for what it is—close to home with reliably great snow (they have the best snow making operation in the business). But there is no challenging terrain at all—everything is groomed twice a day, no trees, 100% beginner to intermediate in terms of steepness. I have a midweek season pass and ski here when I don’t have time to do a multi-day trip to a more challenging area.”

No. 1: Bretton Woods, N.H.

Score: 9.44
Other Strengths: Family Friendly, Guest Service
Weaknesses: Challenge, Nightlife

Groomed ski run Bretton Woods
According to readers, no ski resort in the East does grooming better than Bretton Woods. (Photo: Courtesy of Bretton Woods)

What Readers Say

“As senior citizens we find Bretton Woods very hospitable. Lots of great trails, midweek crowds are minimal, best grooming EVER.”

“Bretton Woods is just up the road from Loon when I’m staying at the Mountain Club. On a cold and windy day, it beats Loon and Cannon hands down. Almost always better snow, excellent grooming, mellow trails, fun natural terrain, and terrific trees. Could probably use an upgrade to their snowmaking system to be able to open more trails sooner, particularly in a low snow year like last season, when it seemed it took them forever to open up West Mountain.”

“It is always better than you think it is going to be at Bretton Woods. High altitude, plenty of cold for snowmaking, and excellent grooming.”