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skiing in Stowe vermont
Photo: Courtesy of Stowe Mountain Resort.

According to Ski Magazine readers, Vermont has some of the best ski resorts in the US and even in North-America, whether you are looking for downhill skiing or cross-country ski or simply want to enjoy great après-ski and dining. In each of these categories, Vermont ski resorts are making Ski Magazine’s list of the “Top 10 Ski Resorts”. And others have also recognized Vermont ski resorts as… some of the best! (See where they are all located on this map of Vermont ski resorts).

Top 10 ski resorts for après-ski (Ski Magazine)
For the best après-ski, Ski Magazine readers selected 2 Vermont ski resorts in the top 10.
Here is their “top 10” list:
1. Aspen Mountain, Colorado
2. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
3. Heavenly, California
4. Killington, Vermont
Killington truly has a number of fun places to enjoy after a long day of skiing: the Mahogany Ridge bar at the K-1 Lodge, the Long Trail Pub at the Snowshed Lodge, and the Bear Mountain Lounge at the Bear Mountain Lodge, the Wobbly Barn or the Lookout Tavern. Lots to choose from. And for the very best BBQ, our personal choice is The Back Behind Saloon on route 4 and 100 S.
5. Tremblant, Quebec
7. Park City, Utah
8. Breckenridge, Colorado
9. Whiteface, New York
10. Stowe, Vermont
There is definitely an established tradition of bar hopping after a day of skiing at the Stowe Mountain Resort. There is even a name for it: it’s the “Mountain Road Crawl”! You start by warming up and having a drink at the Fireside Tavern right at the mountain, then drive down the road a little and stop at the Matterhorn Bar. Pool tables, music and great food (appetizers, pizza, etc.) are all there for you. The bar also has a dance floor. Then, The Shed and the Rusty Nail are further down the road. The Rusty Nail also has a great space and pool tables upstairs. Lots of places for lots of fun! And to make sure to stay safe, take advantage of the shuttle which will take you from one bar to another, yep, no kidding!

Top 10 ski resorts for dining (Ski Magazine)
For dining, Stowe is ranking number 10. A very respectable score. Indeed, the whole road from the Mountain to Stowe village and to Waterbury has restaurants of all kinds and all budgets, as well of course B&B and little inns. Some are fun and relaxed, some are fancy and gastronomic in quaint historic homes. We’ll just name a few: the Whip Bar & Grill, located in the Green Mountain Inn, the Blue Moon Café, the Swisspot (in town), the Cliff House Restaurant (at Mt. Mansfield), and Mr Pickwick’s at the Ye Olde England Inne. Waterbury is close as well and hosts some award-winning restaurants, such as Michael’s on the Hill, and Hen of the Wood (our previous article).

For your curiosity, here are Ski Magazine’s “top 10 ski resorts” for dining:
1. Aspen, Colorado
2. Deer Valley, Utah
3. Tremblant, Quebec
4. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
5. Sun Valley, Idaho
6. Vail, Colorado
7. Park City, Utah
8. Beaver Creek, Colorado
9. Telluride, Colorado
10. Stowe, Vermont

Top 10 ski resorts for off-hill activities (Ski Magazine)
And when it comes to off-hill activities, it’s Smugglers’ Notch which is the favorite station in Vermont. Smugglers’ Notch has the FunZone for kids, video arcades, snow tubing, ice-skating at SmuggsCentral, massages, and more…

Ski Magazine’s top 10 list includes:
1. Whiteface Mountain, New York
2. Aspen Mountain, Colorado
3. Heavenly, California
4. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
5. Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
6. Park City, Utah
7. Tremblant, Quebec
8. Vail, Colorado
9. Breckenridge, Colorado
10. Deer Valley, Utah

Top 10 ski resorts for romantic cross-country skiers (that’s a niche!) (MSNBC – February 2006)
MSNBC has selected the Mountain Top Inn. The photos on its website seem fabulous… with the view on Chittenden Reservoir. We will have to check it out!

MSNBC’s top 10 list includes:
• Callaghan Country at Whistler, British Columbia
• Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, in Alberta
• Garland Resort in Lewiston, Michigan
• Lone Mountain Ranch at Big Sky, Montana
• Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York
• Mt. Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods, in New Hampshire
Mountain Top Inn in the town of Chittenden, Rutland County, Vermont
• Royal Gorge in Soda Springs, California
• Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, Washington
• Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

And last but not least:
Top 10 ski resorts for family in New England (Family Ski Trips)
The Family Ski Trips website listed 6 Vermont ski resorts as the best ski resorts for family.
Wow, well done Vermont! And it’s nice to know that many of these ski resorts have timeshare rentals available through their owners which are spacious enough to fit the whole family comfortably.

Okemo, Vermont
For its lesson programs…
Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
For the “most innovative instruction in snow country”, its beginners’ slopes on Morse Mountain, its kids’ ski camp and day care, and all the activities in the Village from the Fun Zone to snow tubing.
Stowe, Vermont
When the kids grow older: “your kids can night-ski while you dine at the European-style Cliff House” restaurant.
Killington/Pico, Vermont
For Bear Mountain which is dedicated to freeskiers and riders, with parks and pipes; for its Winter Adventure Center with snowshoeing, tubing and dog sledding; and for the less intimidating Pico resort. Killington also has several video arcades.
Suicide Six, Vermont
Ascutney, Vermont
Ascutney has a lot for kids of all ages: Young Olympians ski and ride camps for ages 4-12, and a Bumps Center for teens. Note that the Duckling Daycare will not be open this winter.

Other ski resorts in New England which made the list:
– Bretton Woods, NH
– Sunday River, ME
– Jiminy Peak, MA and
– Sugarloaf, ME

On that note, I hope we’ll see you this winter in Vermont… on our mountains or off the slopes. The snow is already here waiting for you.
Related article: 2009 Best Ski Resorts and Ski Hotels

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smugglers_notch_resort_575For 20 out of the past 22 years, Smugglers’ Notch Resort has opened on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
But it won’t be the case this year! But the weather has been too warm for snow making, and the resort has not received any natural snow… So they just announced that they are delaying opening until December 5th. Sad news for the skiers!

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skiing in Stowe vermont
Photo: Courtesy of Stowe Mountain Resort.
Read in the December 2009 issue of Condé Nast Traveler: the results of the Readers’ Poll about 2009 Best Places to Ski & Stay in North America.

Well, the Rocky Mountains ski resorts win this time… no doubt. Too bad, because there is indeed some very fun places in Vermont to go skiing. In our article last year, The Best Ski Resorts are in Vermont, we highlighted some of the recognition they got, particularly in Ski Magazine, for best after-ski, best family places and more…

And Vermont is still a nice place to enjoy skiing. Some great hotels indeed made the “top 50 ski hotels” list in this recent Condé Nast Traveler survey:
31 – Sugarbush Inn, Warren
39 – Killington Grand Resort Hotel, Killington
42 – Topnotch Resort & Spa, Stowe
44 – Woodstock Inn & Resort, Woodstock (nice hotel indeed!)
48 – Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, Stowe

And what is YOUR best ski hotel in Vermont?

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cross_country_skiingThe Catamount Trail in Vermont is the longest backcountry cross-country ski trail in North America. It is 300 miles of trails stretching the whole length of Vermont, from North to South,  all the way from Quebec to Massachusetts… a winter Long Trail for skiers and snowshoe lovers!
Today, I came across a great article in NY Times about the Catamount Trail, which made me feel like grabbing my skis, jumping in the car and getting to the Catamount Trail immediately to ski it from one end to the other. It reminded me of this magical week-end I had with my son years ago, skiing 2 sections of the Ski Marathon in Canada over a week-end. About 35 kilometers of trails, flat terrain (mostly), open fields, blue sky and immaculate landscape… simply magical. But coming back to the Catamount Trail, I’ll let you read Sarah Tuff’s article. She is doing a wonderful job at describing her experience and making you dream…
She has you imagining the great landscapes the trail crosses, the wide-open farms, the trees covered with snow… Thanks Sarah!
Divided in 31 sections and going through about 200 private lands and 135 miles of public land, the Catamount Trail was started in 1984 and its last section completed in 2008. It follows remote wilderness routes, cross-country ski trails and old logging roads. It also goes through a number of Nordic Centers and you’ll find 12 inns along its way (according to the NY Times article).
The various sections are of different levels of difficulties and interestingly the Catamount Trail Association offers a large number of free and guided tours, for every skier group, including 3-, 4- or 7-day tours. You can consult their website for the tour schedule (check often for updates!). Upcoming multi-day tours include a 6-day tour in Southern Vermont from March 5 to 10.

For more information:
Catamount Trail Association website

General map
of the Catamount Trail
Detailed maps of each of the 31 sections

Some of the inns along the trail
:
Blueberry Hill Inn, Goshen
The Old Tavern, Grafton
Highland Lodge, Greensboro
Mountain Top Inn, Chittenden
Sleepy Hollow Inn, Huntington
Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe
Woodstock Inn, Woodstock

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Vermont Farmhouse Chowder
This winter, six Vermont ski resorts (and more to come) are offering something really special on their menus: a hearty Farmhouse Chowder, featuring products locally grown by Vermont farmers. How it was conceived and developed is truly a fascinating story, but more importantly to all of you skiers, it is delicious!
We had the opportunity to taste it ourselves at the Statehouse cafeteria last week. The chowder has a really nice smoky taste and is truly the kind of hearty food all skiers want to have when they come into the lodge for lunch, after a few hours of skiing.
With this chowder, Sugarbush Executive Chef Gerry Nooney created something truly distinctive for Vermont. The soup is made with Peaslee’s Potatoes, Cold Hollow Apple Cider, Vermont Smoke and Cure sausage and of course, fresh Vermont cream, all local Vermont products. And it does have a very distinctive taste!
And at $6.50 for a bowl at Sugarbush, it costs the same as other prepared soups… but it’s Vermont-made and always fresh…never frozen!
In addition to Sugarbush, the Vermont Farmhouse Chowder is also available at Mount Snow, Bromley, Stratton, Stowe and Smugglers’ Notch Resort, and we’re being told that more ski resorts could join soon. And non-skiers will be happy to know that they can also buy it in a number of delis and local markets or make it at home (see recipe).
Finally… for those of you who are interested in the story of how it came about: it started with a simple idea of promoting local produce, similarly to the Vermont Ski Burger last year.
Chef Gerry Noonley worked hard to develop the recipe. Ski Vermont and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture worked together, along with some private businesses such as Cold Hollow Cider, Vermont Smoke and Cure, and Black River Produce (the distributor) to make it happen! “It is a remarkable example of what Vermont small community can achieve when working together” says Chef Gerry Noonley… Indeed… and the success is there to prove it: the chowder has already been produced in volumes that are twice the team’s initial expectations.

Note: The Vermont Ski Burger is available at Okemo Mountain, Stowe, Burke Mountain, Stratton and Mount Snow. It is made of Vermont-raised all-natural beef from Boyden Farm, and cheese from Cabot Creamery, with some “personalized touches” by the various ski resorts.
Ski Vermont Ale, made by Long Trail Brewery, is another Ski Vermont initiative that you can try at Stratton.

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Cross-country skiing and horse-led sleigh at Mountain Top InnPhoto: Courtesy of Mountain Top Inn.
The 14th annual Winter Trails (Saturday January 10) is the occasion to snowshoe and cross-country ski for free in some Vermont ski resorts! It is actually a North-American event (100 locations in the US and Canada), to encourage people to try the sports, but in some of the resorts, everyone gets the opportunity to ski or snowshoe for free.
Here is the list of participating ski resorts and their activities:

Blueberry Hill Inn & Cross Country Ski Center, Goshen – January 10 – 10 am to 4 pm – Cross-country skiing is from 11 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 4 pm. First-time skiers can rent the equipment, take a group lesson and try the trails – all for free. Snowshoeing is from 10 am to noon and from 1 pm to 3 pm. People new to the sport can rent the equipment, have an introduction and hike in the woods for free.
More information at: Blueberry hill Inn Cross Country Ski Center

Bolton Valley Nordic Center, Bolton Valley – January 11 – 10 am to 2 pm – First-time skiers get free rental and free ski pass.
Careful: it’s Sunday January 11 at Bolton, not January 10!
More information at: Bolton Valley Events

Catamount Outdoor Family Center, Williston – January 10 – 10 am to 3 pm with a moon light snowshoe tour ($10, only adults) at 8 pm followed by hot chocolate and cookies! Free trail passes and sledding, free ski and snowshoe rentals for everyone all day… and raffle for Darn Tough socks.
More information at: Catamount Outdoor
Full schedule at: Catamount Outdoor Winter Trails schedule

Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury – January 10 – 9 am to 4 pm – Rentals and trail passes are free for everyone all day, both for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There is an introductory cross-country group lesson at 1:30 pm.
More information on Craftsbury Outdoor Center at: Craftsbury Outdoor Center

Highland Lodge Nordic Center, Greensboro – January 10 – 1 pm to closing – Free snowshoeing and skiing trail passes and rentals for first-timers. There is also a Full Moon Snowshoe Walk at 9 pm free, with free hot chocolate after the walk. Just call ahead to sign up. (802) 533-2647.
More information at: Highland Lodge Nordic Center Events

Mountain Top Inn & Resort Nordic Ski & Snowshoe Center, Chittenden, Rutland County – January 10 – 10 am to 2 pm – Children and adults new to the sports of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing receive a complimentary trail pass and free rentals for the day. And if you’ve read our article on “the best ski resorts are in Vermont”, you know that Mountain Top Inn has been voted one of the Top 10 ski resorts for romantic cross-country skiers in North-America by MSNBC in 2006!
More information at: Mountain Top Inn Events

Ole’s Cross Country Ski Center, Warren – January 10 – 1 pm to closing – Beginners who mention the Winter Trails event get a 1-hour trail pass, ski rental and ½ hour “try-it” lesson (at 2 pm) – all for free.
More information at: Ole’s Cross Country Ski Center Events

Sleepy Hollow Inn, Ski & Bike Center, Huntington – January 10 – 9 am to 4 pm – People new to the sports of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing receive a free trail pass and free rental.
More on the Ski Center: Sleepy Hollow Inn

Smugglers’ Notch Resort Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Adventure Center, Smugglers’ Notch – January 10 – Noon to 4 pm – Free rentals and short instructional sessions for first-time snowshoers and cross country skiers. Smugglers’ Adventure Center has 34 kilometers of cross-country trails and 24 kilometers of dedicated snowshoe trails!
More information at: Smugglers’ Notch winter events

Woodstock Inn & Resort, Woodstock – January 10 – 1 pm to 3 pm – Free passes, free rentals and a 15-minute instructional session for first-time snowshoers and cross country skiers. More information at: Woodstock Inn & Resort Nordic Center, 802-457-6674

We hope you all get out and try! Snow should be great, with the new snow we are getting today.

Post-scriptum: Ski Vermont is also organizing an event for first-time skiers and riders this week (January 4-11). Free lessons, rentals and limited-beginner lift tickers are offered in over a dozen Vermont ski resorts. More information and to sign up: Ski Vermont learn to ski

 

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Winter season in VermontFoliage is absolutely beautiful right now… but ski lovers should already think “ski” because there are only a few days left to get a pre-season deal on ski season passes in most of Vermont ski resorts!
So, here at Travel-Vermont.net, we’d like to make your life really simple.

Below is the complete list of Vermont ski resorts, with link to their websites (season passes) and the deadline for the pre-season discounts. You can see where they are all located on this map of Vermont ski resorts.

Ascutney Mountain Resort – Deadline: October 13
Bear Creek – Private resort
Bolton Valley – Cut-off date was September 22 – oups, sorry
Bromley – Deadline: October 15
Burke Mountain – Deadline: No date
Jay Peak Resort – Deadline: October 13
Killington – Deadline: October 15
Mad River Glenn – Deadline: October 15
Magic Mountain – Cut-off date was September 30 – oups, sorry
Cochran’s Ski Area – Deadline: December 1
Middlebury College Snow Bowl – Deadline: End of October
Mount Snow – Deadline: October 13
Okemon Mountain – Deadline: October 13
Pico Mountain – Deadline: October 15
Smugglers’ Notch Resort – Deadline: By Halloween!
Stowe – Deadline: October 24
Stratton – Deadline: October 13
Sugarbush – Deadline: November 9 on college passes
Suicide Six at Woodstock Inn – Deadline: No date

Don’t hesitate to send us your comments and come back to read our articles and watch the ski reports!