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Resort Guide 2023

Top 10 Resorts in the East for Overall Satisfaction

The quixotic "overall satisfaction" category may seem hard to define, but it's really just resorts with that little something extra.

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Some ski resorts offer a great core skiing experience: amazing terrain, reliable snow and grooming, and efficient lifts. Others excel in the amenity department: their ski schools, dining, lodging, and off-hill activities are all something to write home about. It’s rare for a ski resort to get it right in all of those categories to appease both the diehard skier and the destination skier, the adults and the kids—but those that do earn high scores in the Overall Satisfaction department. The 10 Eastern resorts on this list earned that distinction in SKI’s 2023 Reader Resort Survey. See the entire survey results here.

Top 10 Resorts in the East for Overall Satisfaction

No. 10: Mont Tremblant, Que.

Score: 8.67
Other Strengths:
Après, Lodging
Weaknesses:
Challenge, Value

Skier at Mont Tremblant
Cold temps means snow stays fresh longer at Mont Tremblant. (Photo: Courtesy of Mont Tremblant)

What Readers Say

You can’t find another ski resort like Tremblant anywhere in North America. The overall vibe and ambience both in the village and on the mountain is so unique and fun. It’s a great and balanced vacation with great skiing, the best food, fun nightlife, and a staff that goes above and beyond..” 

“A touch of Europe so close to home!”

No. 9: Holiday Valley, N.Y.

Score: 8.69
Other Strengths:
Family Friendly, Lifts
Weaknesses:
Challenge, Snow

Holiday Valley Family RG23
It’s not big, but readers still have big feelings for Holiday Valley thanks to its laundry list of amazing amenities. (Photo: Courtesy of Holiday Valley/Ashley Baron)

What Readers Say

“Outstanding snowmaking. High number of high-speed lifts. Friendly staff, customer oriented. Great resort town for après-ski. Varied terrain, something for everyone and every ability.

“It’s a great all-around resort. Fantastic on mountain amenities and mountain crew. The ownership pours millions of $$ into it every year.”

“Holiday Valley is our hometown area and continues to be managed by some of the original founding families of the ski hill. So they seriously strive to maintain a resort with character and quality. One new high-speed quad this year and a six-pack quad for next season. Excellent snowmaking/grooming and a good variety of trails makes the most out of the modest 750-foot vertical. The village remains quaint, with boutique shops, restaurants and bars, usually offering good live music and monthly theme weekends, such as Blues Weekend and Mardi Gras Weekend. Great for families and for skiers/boarders of all levels. Nothing too challenging for experts, but the trail layout keeps it fun and interesting. No wonder that it draws from the surrounding Buffalo area, as well as from Ontario and Cleveland and beyond. There is a strong and growing four-season draw to the resort and area as well, so much so that I took the New York state tax hit and moved here from Pa. upon retiring.”

No. 8: Waterville Valley, N.H.

Score: 8.71
Other Strengths:
Family Friendly, Access
Weaknesses:
Snow, Nightlife

Snowcat Waterville Valley
Great grooming is just one aspect of how Waterville Valley serves its skiers. (Photo: Courtesy of Waterville Valley)

What Readers Say

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

“I was surprised that a mountain this size didn’t have any grades, or at least didn’t allow skiers to access the greats. Some of the steepest runs I’ve ever encountered! My quads really got a work out!”

“I live here, and I ski here almost every day. A great place for good Eastern skiers. It’s out of the way, a long drive, but worth it. Dress warm and come on up. Try the Olympic runs!”

No. 7: Cannon Mountain, N.H.

Score: 8.78
Other Strengths:
Challenge, Terrain Variety
Weaknesses:
Lodging, Nightlife

Cannon Mountain, N.H.
If it was good enough for Bode Miller, it’s good enough for us. (Photo: Courtesy of Cannon Mountain)

What Readers Say

“Had phenomenal powder days this year on back-to-back days. The second time I drove to Cannon Mountain 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 inches of powder. The terrain is fun for all ages. I love that they are on the Indy Pass.

“I grew up skiing here and it made me the skier I am today. College racing career and college coaching career are influenced from my skiing at Waterville.”

“Waterville has a special feeling to it. From the interactions with staff it feels like the tiny ski hills I learned to ski on as a kid, but with bigger terrain. But there’s so much for every level of skier. I taught some friends how to ski this year and they also felt the Waterville magic.”

No. 6: Sugarloaf Resort, Maine

Score: 8.83
Other Strengths:
Challenge, Terrain Variety
Weaknesses:
Nightlife, Access

Sugarloaf Snow RG23
Everyone talks about the grooming at Sugarloaf, but if you catch this place on a pow day, grooming will be the furthest thing from your mind. (Photo: Courtesy of Sugarloaf Resort)

What Readers Say

“Long way to go, and you seem to pass by every other ski resort in New England in traveling there. But it’s such a fine ski area once you arrive, and it ticks so many boxes of the categories that are meaningful to me! Clearly, it’s my go-to resort back East.

“I learned to ski at Sugarloaf in 1980 and it’s a second home of sorts. There are other good ski areas in the state but Sugarloaf is the best.”

“This is one of the best if not the best place in the east (I know some tough competition in Vermont). With very rough weather/limited natural snow, the resort’s snowmaking and grooming were quite impressive this year.”

No. 5: Magic Mountain, Vt.

Score: 9.04
Other Strengths:
Value, Local Flavor
Weaknesses:
Nightlife. Lodging

Magic Mountain ski resort
It’s hard to beat Magic Mountain’s indy vibe and interesting terrain. (Photo: Courtesy of Magic Mountain)

What Readers Say

“Magic is one of a kind. When there is snow in southern Vermont, there is no finer place. The vibe is perfect old school, the terrain is hairy, and the après in the Black Line Tavern gets going early. Now if only they could blow more snow.

“If you haven’t been to Magic you are missing the quintessential Vermont experience. A throwback (yeah, lifts suck) mountain to a time where skiing had a soul. The glades here are the most challenging on the East Coast. Unfortunately this season’s weather was not kind to them so terrain was limited. Want to throw a private party on a ski hill with your friends? Private rental of the mountain is available Monday through Thursday. Great place that everyone needs to visit.”

“I wasn’t expecting much since we had a terrible early season for snow but Magic did terrific. I was super surprised how good the snow was and the variety of terrain they offered. My family really liked Magic and we’ll return.”

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

No. 4: Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.

Score: 9.11
Other Strengths:
Family Friendly, Guest Service
Weaknesses:
Lifts, Nightlife

Smugglers Notch Variety RG23
Guest service is top of mind at Smugglers’ Notch. But the terrain isn’t bad, either. (Photo: Courtesy of Smugglers’ Notch)

What Readers Say

“Classic New England. Mountain is great for families and learners on the lower mountain‚ and serious business for real-deal mountaineers on Madonna. Old-school ski vibe that keeps it real.”

“Diverse terrain with lots of challenging trails but still fun for beginners. Really enjoy the local flavor and it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be something it is not. Prices are the best value for the skiing. The double chairlift can be slow but it keeps the trails feeling less crowded. Love the upper lot flavor especially in the spring when people are hanging out.”

“I have skied here for more than 25 years. It is without a doubt the friendliest place I know. The skiing is great, from blues to triple-black diamonds. The woods and uncharted trails are excellent.”

No. 3: Bretton Woods, N.H.

Score: 9.12
Other Strengths:
Grooming, Family Friendly
Weaknesses:
Nightlife, Challenge

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

“Whenever I go ski somewhere else, I wish I was skiing on Bretton Woods snow. Great terrain, nice staff, they do an amazing job with the grooming. I always enjoy skiing Bretton Woods and often regret skiing elsewhere.

“Super family-friendly mountain with enough terrain to challenge my 10-year-old who just became a better skier than me. We spent a week there during school vacation, which I dreaded. But, Bretton Woods did a great job and 90 percent of the time the lines were relatively short.”

“Love this resort because of the wide, long trails for beginners and intermediates. Snow conditions are always great! I know when I travel here I will not be disappointed. I recommend this resort to everybody!”

No. 2: Jay Peak, Vt

Score: 9.19
Other Strengths:
Challenge, Terrain Variety
Weaknesses:
Access, Nightlife

Skier in powder at Jay Peak
If snow quality and East Coast powder days is what you’re after, head for Jay Peak. (Photo: Courtesy of Jay Peak)

What Readers Say

“Discovered Jay Peak for the first time this season. Apparently I’ve been living under a rock. Holy crap what a magical place. Hands down best glade skiing I’ve ever seen and one of the only places I’ve ever been able to do glade skiing without feeling like I’m endangering my life and health. I had SO much fun. It’s the only place I’ve been that gives me a strong desire to go back for a full week.”

“The best snow in the East. Although it is a hike for most and gas is crazy priced now. I’m thrilled they’re on the Indy Pass. I drove three hours each direction for a day trip and plan to do it 2 times next year. Love the tram.”

“The Jay Cloud is real. Pick your spots because if the wind blows (and it does) it can quickly cut off the top two-thirds of the mountain. The low intermediate will have a tough time because there aren’t a ton of options that don’t get skied off quickly. The tree skiing is head and shoulders above anywhere else in the East.”

No. 1: Mad River Glen, Vt.

Score: 9.70
Other Strengths:
Challenge, Local Flavor
Weaknesses:
Grooming, Access

Skier at Mad River Glen
You can’t beat the indy vibe and soul at Mad River Glen. It makes the whole skiing experience at this place special. (Photo: Courtesy of Mad River Glen)

What Readers Say

“Old-fashioned skiing at its best. Great lodge and bar.

“Mad River is an amazing old-school resort with the most challenging skiing on the East Coast, a fantastic vibe and a wonderful family-friendly feel. A fantastic independent ski area.”

“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 it doesn’t make snow, so the wild card is Mother Nature.”

“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.”