It is November, the temperature is dropping and snow is falling soon. This means winter is around the corner and it is almost time to ski! As an avid snowboarder who has been actively riding for three years, I have been to a lot of major ski resorts in the country, primarily on the East Coast. Below is a very personal review of all the resorts I have visited. If you are thinking of picking up skiing or snowboarding this winter, you must not miss this!
Wachusetts, Massachusetts: Let’s start with the resort that is the closest to the Brandeis campus. About less than an hour drive away from where we are, Wachusetts is the most beginner-friendly and the easiest to access resort. If you do not have a car, you can easily take the commuter rail and Uber for a little bit to get to the resort, so it is a good destination for day trips. However, the downside of being close to Boston is that it is small and expensive. You are basically paying the same price as the lift ticket at those bigger resorts up north, but the available terrain is 100 times smaller. There is always a wait for the lifts, and I would say it takes less than 60 seconds for me to ride down every single trail. If you are a pro, you will get tired of here very soon; however, if you have never skied or snowboarded before and you are not sure whether this is your sport, go to Wachusetts first. It is low-stakes and beginner-friendly.
Killington, Vermont: Welcome to my all-time favorite place on the East Coast. Nicknamed the Beast of the East, Killington is the biggest resort in New England with almost 200 trails and six peaks, and it is suitable for all-level skiers, from rookies to pros. It is about a three hour drive from Brandeis, so I would recommend going there during small breaks and long weekends. Because Killington is so big and they have the best snow making team, it has always been the first resort to open and last resort to close on the East Coast. Killington’s first day of the season is actually today! I will be there this Thanksgiving, so if you are also planning on going, say hi to me on the peak! A friendly reminder: Thanksgiving is still considered early season, so there will only be intermediate and advanced terrain available. If you aren’t comfortable with blues and blacks, maybe wait for a little longer until they are able to make snow all-mountain.
Sugarbush, Vermont: Sugarbush is slightly more up north than Killington, which is about three and a half hour drive from where we are. It is supposed to be the second biggest resort just a little behind Killington. My review of Sugarbush might be a bit biased because I have only been there once–it was Thanksgiving last year–and last year was notoriously known as a dry season. I remember the disappointment when I drove so far to see there were only two blues open, and the line for the lift was crazily long. If you have a choice, I would recommend you go to Killington–it is bigger, closer, plus the food is better.
Steamboat, Colorado: bye East Coast, hello Southwest. Trust me, if you have ever skied in the Rockies, you would never want to come back to the East Coast ice again. I went to Steamboat last winter break. Was it expensive? Yes. Was it worth it? YES in all-caps. Steamboat is known for having champagne powder snow and amazing diverse terrain like bowls and trees, so I’d say it is made for the advanced skiers and snowboarders. My beginners friends on the trip did not enjoy it as much as we did because you have to be a pro to enjoy all the terrains and powder there. Also, I would say due to the different nature of mountains, the slopes in the Rockies are generally harder than the East Coast. I can go down blacks and sometimes double blacks at Killington, but at Steamboat my comfort level was reduced to blue-blacks. The good side is since the snow quality there is so good, even though you fall, you won’t hurt as much. The town of Steamboat Springs is also amazing. We stayed there around five days and we never got bored. There is also a natural outdoor hot spring near the resort which is the best place to relax after a long day of hitting the slopes.
Above are all the resorts I have been to in the United States, and I am planning to explore more this winter. Unfortunately, the East Coast is known as the Ice Coast, so the quality of the ski areas will never be the same as those huge resorts in Colorado and Utah–but who knows what you can expect after a snowstorm?
Also, all resorts on my list besides Wachusetts are on the Ikon Pass, an all-in-one season pass for 40+ major ski areas in the world. Daily lift tickets at those resorts, especially during weekends and holidays, can be insanely expensive, so if you are planning to ski or ride multiple times this winter, I would recommend you getting an Ikon Pass. Ikon also offers discounts for college students, so make sure to take advantage of that. Remember, be safe and have fun in the snow!