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There’s nothing quite like standing atop Stowe. Jagged, icy rock formations towering above you convey a sense of East Coast ruggedness unlike anywhere else, and as you look downhill, 116 trails each offer a blank canvas on which to paint a perfect skiing masterpiece over and over. And while many resorts say they have something for everyone, Stowe actually does—in spades. You can tap into that rugged, high-elevation terrain as much as you want with iconic runs like Goat and Chin Clip, but also relax on pristine, kid-friendly groomers, especially around the Spruce base area.
This well-balanced variety applies to everything else at Stowe, too, earning the mountain Top 10 rankings in Terrain, Challenge, Après, Dining, Lodging, On-Mountain Dining, Nightlife, Down-Day Activities, Scenery, and Charm. “Stowe is the undisputed Queen of the East,” asserts one reader. “The combination of history, class, terrain, amenities, and a postcard scenic town make destination travel here a pleasure.” Other readers point to higher prices at Stowe compared to other options across the East, but as one reader points out, it’s worth every penny: “You get what you pay for. In this case, it’s a lot. A lot of terrain, a lot of snow, and a lot of service.” — Connor W. Davis
2021 SKI Resort Guide Reader Ranking for Stowe, Vt.: No. 13 in the East
- WHAT’S NEW: Stowe is expanding its series of Kids Adventure Zones, which give young’uns and parents alike gentle sidecountry terrain to explore and progress on, all part of a mission to rethink family-friendly skiing.
- OFF-HILL RESTAURANT: Ranch Camp, on Route 108 just a mile or so south of the mountain, is half bike shop, half restaurant, and 100-percent amazing. Tacos. Burritos. Beers.
Get caught up: Stratton Vt. – No. 14 in the East
Read about No. 12 in the East for 2021: Sugarloaf, Maine
Know where to go: Ski Town – Stowe, Vt.
Stowe Mountain Resort’s 2020 SKI Magazine Reader Resort Survey Rank: 18th in the East
Stowe Mountain Resort is like a classic movie star: say the name and almost anyone can picture the face. In Stowe’s case, it’s the steep Front Four, the shiny red gondola, and the white steeple of its quintessential New England town. Stowe skis well for visitors of all abilities—from those steeps to the lovely, winding green Toll Road trail complete with an outdoor stone chapel stop. “Amazing scenery with a tremendous amount of terrain,” says one reader.
Loyalists do have some wants though, and topping the list is an update to the base lodge. “Needs serious work!” Parking, particularly on busy weekend days, is a challenge. (Pro tip: Use the Mountain Road Shuttle for convenient access.) But in the end, the combination of high peaks (highest in Vermont), upscale food (No. 2 in Dining), and that old-school Vermont village vibe encourages readers to forgive Stowe’s shortcomings. Most agree that with the mountain’s natural assets, complemented by one of skidom’s most charming towns, it’s only a matter of time before Stowe reclaims its rightful place with the best of the Eastern resorts. — Moira McCarthy
- DOWN DAY ACTIVITY: Glide away on the outdoor ice skating rink at the slopeside Spruce Peak Lodge as you gaze out at the mountain sunset or starry northern sky.
- LOCAL TIP: Signs mark low-angle gladed areas off beginner and intermediate trails for skiers who want to begin exploring the trees in easier off-piste spots.
- BEST BREAKFAST: The New Maple Waffle Café atop the gondola takes mountainside waffles to new heights.
SKI Magazine’s 2019 Review of Stowe Mountain Resort, Vt.
The pessimists were ready this season, ready for Vail Resorts to swoop into beautiful, quintessentially New England Stowe Mountain Resort and turn it into something Stowe-lovers would no longer recognize.
Guess what? One-year-plus into Vail ownership, Stowe is still the same beloved mountain resort. We’re happy to report that Stowe still has its soul and continues to charm visitors with great dining and lodging options, offering an all-encompassing experience to those who ski and stay at the resort. Best inside scoop: Head over to Stowe Mountain Lodge and mention to a bartender that you want in on the Speakeasy. There’s no signage, you’ll just have to trust us.
While Stowe-goers love their resort just the way it is, they’ll admit that the Mansfield base could use some Vail Resorts love. The new owners are already in the early planning stages of upgrades. Stay tuned.
Come to Stowe for the…
- APRES SPOT The new Stowe Cork is as cool as the Waterbury original, so check it out. (Full disclosure: The owner is one of our ski testers.)
- LOCAL SECRET Suddenly Stowe is brew central. The Trapp Lodge specializes in German styles, and the new Alchemist brewery still can’t keep up with Heady Topper demand.
- FAMILY ACTIVITY Take a guided tour at the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Waterbury, 15 minutes away.