10 Reasons To Ski The East
Written by Alexa Owen • Dec 30, 2015
If you grew up in New England, it may not be easy for you to think of the East as a ski vacation destination. The West has the powder and the sunshine, Europe has sledging and miles-long slopes, Canada has big mountain beasts and South America is just a world of its own. But New England has been the backyard for skiing enthusiasts since the early 1900s, and it should not be overlooked as a prime destination for weekend getaways or full-blown ski vacations. We’ve got plenty of reasons for you to take a ski vacation in the East this winter, and here are the top 10:
1. Snowpack (with a c)
Sure, the East doesn’t get 500+ inches of annual snowfall like some of the best in the West; that’s why they’ve had to develop state-of-the-art snowmaking systems and invest in the best manmade snow the industry has to offer. No matter what the snow forecast says, you can count on good hard pack all season long at East Coast resorts. Investments in grooming help to pack that man-made snow into smooth, sleek corduroy that will last at least the first couple of hours on any weekend morning.
Après skiing is the art of kicking back and reflecting on the goodness of life on and off the slopes. It originated in the historic ski villages of Europe, but spread across the globe to any place that established ski resorts. In the East you can enjoy après at a barbeque on the lodge deck, a favorite local dive bar, or a slope side sunbathing session as the season melts into spring.
Eastern ski culture is all about charm, whether you’re shopping around the villages of Vermont or poaching backcountry ropes for freshies in New Hampshire. An eclectic mix of old-time locals, seasonal adventurers, and weekend warriors make up these resort towns, and this makes for excellent stories, good vibes, unique shopping and great food – all permeated by a love for winter’s best sport.
Skiing in the East is notorious for its family-friendly atmosphere, and events are often catered to kids and whole family fun. Kids Night Out, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, movie nights, and awesome tubing parks are a few of the great activities resorts in the East have to offer, and they have been consistently growing programs that create fun on and off the slopes throughout the season.
East Coast ski area origins date back to the 1930s when locals used leather boots and simple wooden skis to play in the mountains. Villages built up around the areas, the villages expanded to towns, and those towns now serve major resorts that have become destinations for skiers from all over the world. The history of these places offers a certain depth that is not easy to find at all resorts, and even a cafeteria lunch in a lodge decorated with old photos and equipment can offer some perspective on time and beginnings.
You may know by now that skiing is about much more than strapping two boards to your feet and hucking yourself down a hill. It’s about socializing, exploring, and learning how to play again. Eastern resorts work all season long to put on some of the best events you’ll go to this year, including free outdoor concerts, pond skims, community races, competitions, and winter carnivals.
If you have kids in tow or a job that limits your vacation time, you’ll have a lot less hassle sticking local if you live in the East. There are over a dozen major resorts within a few hours drive of the tri-state area and smaller ones amongst those. You can make it easy for yourself and your family by taking a quick ride to the resort offerings in your backyard instead of schlepping everyone across the country for a couple days of skiing.
The East may not have the same vertical rise as mountains in The Rockies or The Alps, but the terrain is varied, challenging, and fun. Chances are no matter where you end up, you’ll find access to trees, bumps, cruising groomers and some pretty insane steeps. Diversity of terrain guarantees something for every age and ability, so you won’t have to worry about beginners, intermediates and experts each finding their niche on one mountain.
A ski vacation is a ski vacation, but one is never quite the same as the next, and one of the factors that can make all the difference is cost. While you can certainly spend a pretty penny on a super luxurious New England getaway, you can also craft an experience that will work for a tight budget. There are plenty of smaller resorts on this coast offering budget-friendly lodging and lift ticket prices; there’s also the fact that driving a couple hours to your destination will cost a whole lot less than flying. Yeah. Think about it.
10. Hometown Vibes
Truth: most of the ski resorts in the East did not start as resorts – at least not how we think of them today. There were pomas and rope tows in the humble beginnings, along with few out-of-towners and virtually no marketing craziness. Simply put, the mountains were there for people to ski. Today, those hometown vibes continue to run as the undercurrent of most resorts, meaning that underneath the crowds, shops, and resort-y-ness, the soul of skiing lives on. And that’s pretty awesome.
Ski season is here, and the best time to plan your ski vacation is now. If you can swing it, a trip out West will surely be enjoyable, but don’t overlook the great resorts that may be closer to home!