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Resort Guide 2023

Top 10 Resorts in the East for Value

When you need to stretch the dollar, skip the megas and seek out the East's smaller ski areas, where you get more bang for your buck.

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Never let skiing’s perceived high cost dissuade you from participating in the best sport on the planet. There are plenty of ski areas that make it part of their business models to keep costs reasonable—be it low-cost daily lift tickets, modest menu items at lunch, or lesson packages that don’t make newbies want to turn around and go home. These 10 resorts offer some of the best deals in the business, according to the results of the 2023 Reader Resort Survey. See the entire survey results here.

Best Value in the East

No. 10: Wachusett Mountain, Mass. 

Score: 7.76
Other strengths: Access, Family
Weaknesses: Lodging, Challenge

Wachusett ski area
Skiers come to Wachusett for the quick access, top-notch guest service, and the friendly people. (Photo: Courtesy of Wachusett)

What Readers Say

“Big mountain skiing minutes away, as it is only 45 minutes from downtown Boston with night skiing until 9:30p. Open at 7:30a on weekends. Best for ski families with new skiers and for the night race league four nights a week. Best value in all of New England, hands down!”

“Just got back into skiing two years ago. Wachusett is 15 minutes from my home. The pass is a great value, I already bought one for next season. Can’t say enough good things about the people who make the snow and groom the trails!”

“It is a fantastic local mountain that won’t break the bank, with enough varied terrain to keep me entertained and share the sport with other people.”

No. 9: Whiteface Mountain, N.Y. 

Score: 7.83
Other strengths: Challenge, Nightlife
Weaknesses: Snow, Guest Service

Whiteface’s lack of commercialism is one of its best features, as is its storied Olympic history as host of the 1932 and 1980 games. (Photo: Courtesy of Whiteface Mountain)

What Readers Say

“Love the variety and family resort aspect. Great location. Easy to get to. Love the village of Lake Placid nearby.”

“Recommend to anyone looking for an authentic winter holiday experience with lots of on- and off-hill activities for whole family, a town with great local vibe, and Olympic tradition alive and well.”

No. 8: Bretton Woods, N.H.

Score: 8.09
Other strengths: Grooming, Lifts
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Challenge

Bretton Woods gondola
It’s hard to beat the season pass price at Bretton Woods. (Photo: Courtesy of Bretton Woods)

What Readers Say

“The season pass price is a great deal. It’s only a 75-minute drive on nice roads. Prior to this year, it was uncrowded on weekdays.”

“Bretton Woods is the perfect family destination for skiing! The mountain has trails for all levels of skiing. All of the staff from the parking lot, to ticketing, to the lifts, and all of the services are incredibly friendly and helpful. The condos on the mountain or across the street are roomy, clean, and exactly what you need after a great day on the slopes.”

No. 7: Gore Mountain, N.Y. 

Score: 8.21
Other strengths: Challenge, Terrain Variety
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Après

Gore Mountain gondola
According to readers, Gore is one of the more reasonable options on the East Coast, especially for seniors.  (Photo: Courtesy of Gore Mountain)

What Readers Say

“I skied Gore for the first time last year after Covid kept me within the boundaries of New York state. I feel I have greatly missed out on an adventure in my own back yard. Pricing was fair, vibe was fantastic, terrain left my craving for more time to ski it. Views from the top looking out at the Adirondacks left me speechless.”

“Fantastic season pass price for seniors. New York state has spent a lot of money on recent upgrades. Friendly, easy to get to, and beautiful views of Adirondacks.”

No. 6: Waterville Valley, N.H.

Score: 8.32
Other strengths: Access, Family Friendly
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Lifts

Waterville Valley ski area
What Waterville Valley lacks in amenities it makes up for in value. (Photo: Courtesy of Waterville Valley)

What Readers Say

“Grew up skiing and racing at Waterville Valley. Moved onto Stowe and now back going to WV with my young family. Could not be happier. Great mountain for a family. Ski school, daycare, everyone is friendly. Good value. Will be getting a season pass for the family over the next year or so. Impressed with what the Valley does have to offer. Really happy I gave it another go.”

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

“I’ve been a pass holder at Waterville for two years now but I’ve also skied here a few times before then, love it every time I come. I never get tired of the terrain, plenty of steeps for the advanced skier or rider, that being said there is also a plentiful amount of intermediate and beginner terrain! The staff is also very friendly, every time I would come the staff would greet me with a ‘hello’ and also asked me ‘how are you?’ Overall this is a great mountain and I would definitely recommend to families of all abilities, everyone can have fun here!”

No. 5: Cannon Mountain, N.H.

Score: 8.83
Other strengths: Challenge, Terrain Variety
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Lodging

Cannon Mountain, N.H.
At Cannon, you get bang for your buck when it comes to lift ticket prices. (Photo: Courtesy of Cannon Mountain)

What Readers Say

“Cannon is a great mountain for the price with lots of challenging terrain.”

“Cannon is a skier’s mountain, and has handled the last two seasons really well. We love Mittersill and we can’t think of another N.H./Vt. mountain with as much variety and challenge.”

“True New England skiing. Unpretentious, great terrain, good value.”

No. 4: Jay Peak, Vt. 

Score: 8.88
Other strengths: Terrain Variety, Challenge
Weaknesses: Access, Nightlife

Jay Peak Value RG23
It’s not the most affordable ski area on this list, but readers agree the price of admission is well worth it. (Photo: Courtesy of Jay Peak)

What Readers Say

“Jay gets plenty of snow. Lift lines can be lengthy on weekends. Some trail intersections can get congested and skied off. Terrain challenge and variety is excellent. Slope side condos are superb, a true ski-in/ski-out and spacious accommodations. Great value—lift tickets and accommodation cost are lower than most areas.”

“Terrain to rival the Rockies, tons of snow, less than two hours from Montreal, amazing value, great waterpark for endless family fun.”

“I haven’t had the chance to get out to Colorado and Utah, but I have had the opportunity to go to Whistler Blackcomb. Primarily a skier in the East. If I had to choose my last day on a pair of skis or snowboard, I would choose Jay Peak, Vt. The mountain won’t have your extravagant town or amenities like Stowe Mountain for example, but gives that perfect balance of good lifts, great snow, and a local mountain vibe.”

No. 3: Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.

Score: 8.94
Other strengths: Family Friendly, Local Flavor
Weaknesses: Lifts, Dining

Skier jumping at Smugglers' Notch
Smugglers’ notch has something for everyone, including expert terrain, family-friendly vibes, and local flare. (Photo: Courtesy of Smugglers’ Notch)

What Readers Say

“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 chair lift 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.”

“Great value for the money, the grooming is excellent, and the woods are pretty good.”

“I’m a Smuggs season pass holder three years running because it’s got the best season pass value (I don’t care about being able to ride a bunch of mountains across the country … I want to be able to ride one great mountain, whenever I want, for a fair price). The terrain is challenging and pushes me to be a better rider and it’s an old-school, independently-owned resort for die-hard East Coast skiers that’s a shining example of classic Vermont mountain culture.”

No. 2: Mad River Glen, Vt. 

Score: 9.15
Other strengths: Challenge, Overall Satisfaction
Weaknesses: Grooming, Nightlife

Mad River Glen RG23
Mad River Glen is not on any of the mega passes, which means it can afford to set its own prices. And skiers really like those prices. (Photo: Courtesy of Mad River Glen)

What Readers Say

“Mad River Glen is NOT part of Ikon, Epic, or any other corporate ski company. While the season may be short and lines can be long on Saturdays MRG staff and guests are great. And NO SNOWBOARDS!”

“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.”

No. 1: Magic Mountain, Vt.

Score: 9.17
Other strengths: Challenge, Local Flavor
Weaknesses: Lifts, Nightlife

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 you were invited as a guest. Never crowded and a great value.”

“If you haven’t been to Magic you are missing the quintessential Vermont experience. A throwback 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, everyone needs to visit.”

“We skied Magic because we’d heard great things about it but had never been there before, and it’s on the Indy Pass. We went with another family, stayed in the more rustic of the two rustic and only hotels near the base. It doesn’t typically get the snow or match the variety of the bigger, more northern places in Vermont, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Very casual and friendly après scene in the base lodge. Very friendly house staff, great beer, food, music, and very welcoming of kids. We will definitely go back.”