Plan Your Trip > Regional Guides > Northeast College Ski List

Top Places to Ski Near Northeast Colleges

*All of the resorts and venues listed here are taking measures to operate safely and in adherence to local Covid guidelines and regulations. Please make sure to check with your intended destination before visiting. Also, keep in mind university and local travel restrictions that are constantly changing. This season, visiting local (in-state) resorts will be the surest plan. For example, day or weekend trips from New York to Vermont will be challenged by quarantine restrictions. Check the CDC website regularly for current travel restrictions and quarantine procedures that are rapidly changing.

As students make a long-awaited return to college and the upcoming ski season, our guide is here to bring you closer to
that first-run-of-the-season feeling of excitement! This guide is created by college students for college students. Our student sources have shared their favorite resorts in the Northeast complete with the best pass deals, student (and budget friendly) après ski places, terrain and more. Minted by mountains all over the United States, these seasoned skiers helped form this list for the next group of college skiers looking to continue during college. Find ski resorts near you.

Top Resorts by Category

For Starting Out: Okemo 

For Experts: Sugarloaf or Jay Peak

For Party-goers: Killington

For day-trippers: Loon

For Relaxed Thrill Seekers: Smugglers' Notch

Image Courtesy of Smugglers' Notch

Killington, Rutland, VT

Best for easy day trips and party-goers

1/1

Overview. An easy day trip, Killington is just under an hour from Dartmouth and Middlebury Colleges and the University of Vermont is ~1.5 hours. Not exactly under the radar, Killington gets crowded, but its recently renovated lift infrastructure helps. Pico, 10 minutes down the road and accessible by shuttle bus, tends to be less crowded. While it lacks a traditional mountain village, there are several spots along the access road that will satisfy après appetites (such as the Wobbly Barn!). Airbnb is convenient here, especially if you can find a place along the access road. We also like The Cascades Lodge for its reasonable pricing, onsite bar and proximity to Snowshed. Killington invests heavily in snow-making and has the longest season in the East, often extending into June.

College Passes. The College Pass has unlimited access. For 2020 pass purchases, Killington will provide Covid-19 coverage and refunds prior to Nov 20, no questions asked. The Ikon College Pass is $609 and offers 7 days at Killington and the Base Pass is $429 with 5 days at Killington

 LET'S GO 
  • Overall convenience and value from Northeastern Colleges can't be beat. It's a short drive, a long season (Thanksgiving to Memorial Day or later) and season passes for college students are discounted to $369

  • Aka the Beast, this place is big! The variety of terrain and terrain parks are in a league of their own in the Northeast

  • This place knows how to party. This rowdy scene includes live music, parties all night, and plenty of casual places to eat

HESITATIONS
  • Crowds. Lift lines can be very long and some areas bottleneck, especially the Gondola to Killington Peak

  • The college pass is more expensive (by ~$100) than some of the nearby more local mountains 

  • Watch out for inexperienced skiers. More advanced skiers should head to Bear Mountain or the glades 

  • Navigating around the resort can be challenging. There are six peaks, each with a separate base without much signage. Have a plan to meet your group.

APRÈS & DINING - TOP COLLEGE PICKS

  • Wobbly Barn. Voted a top 5 après ski destination by USA Today, come early for the beef and seafood and stay for the live music, vibrant drinking scene, and rambunctious crowd. Bonus, they provide free shuttles to and from the base, even late at night. View more

  • Roaring Brook Umbrella Bar. At the bottom of Superstar, this relaxed, open-air spot is perfect on bluebird days. View more. 

  • The Lookout Tavern. Come here for scenic views, a stellar happy hour menu of craft cocktails & beers and laid back vibe. View more.

  • Sushi Yoshi. Really solid après and reasonably priced sushi and Chinese food. View more

QUICK STATS

Passes: Ikon Pass or the College Pass

Terrain: 155 Trails, 5 Terrain Parks 

Terrain Mix: 28% Green, 33% Blue, 24%/15% Black/Double

Average Snowfall: 250 inches

Vertical Drop: 3,050 ft

Lifts: 21 total - 2 gondolas, 5 express quads

Loon Mountain

Best for Boston Based Day Trips & Reliable Snow Cover

1/2

Overview. Only 2 hours from Boston, just off of 93 North, and northeast of Hanover, Loon is an easy trip from many New England colleges. Loon is known for for its legendary terrain parks and top-notch snow-making capabilities. The town of Lincoln, NH is in walking distance from Loon's base and has dozens of bars, restaurants and shops. Hotels near the resort can be expensive, but the Meadow Lark Motor Inn offers better value, or check out the Indian Head Resort, one exit further north on 93. The nearby town of Woodstock, just under the 93-overpass and has better value restaurants and bars such as the Woodstock Inn and Brewery. Loon has fun non-skiing activities including night tubing and New England's longest gondola ride. Loon gets crowded on the weekends. Park at South Peak, parking is less competitive and the Lincoln Express lift is right next to the lot.

College Passes: College Silver New England Pass provides students access to Loon, Sunday River and Sugarloaf for $279 for the season. Loon is also on the IKON pass.

 LET'S GO 
  • The terrain parks! Loon Mountain has 6 different parks 

  • Snowmaking allows the season to start as early as mid-November and extend through mid-March

  • An easy day trip from Boston/Cambridge

  • Within walking distance to a fun town with a variety of fun bars such as Babe's Blue Ox and the Bunyan Room

  • Exploring the hidden glades of “Black Mountain” on the skier’s right of Walking Boss at the top of North Peak is perfect for experts seeking a challenge

HESITATIONS
  • Pricey! Food and lodging are relatively more expensive than other resorts on our college list

  • Weekday shuttle service around the base area is limited, those coming mid-week should plan accordingly

  • Weekends can be crowded, leading to competition for parking and long lift lines

APRÈS & DINING - TOP COLLEGE PICKS

  • Babe's Blue Ox. Located on the upper level of Governor Adams Lodge, Babe's Blue Ox has a vibrant après ski scene. On the weekends, the venue has a Bloody Mary bar and live music. View more.

  • Bunyan Room. For live entertainment, head upstairs in the Octagon Lodge. College students can join the Mug Club for access to members-only parties.

  • Black Mountain Burger (BMB). While lines can be long, this burger is a town staple. View more.

  • Gordi's Fish & SteakhouseReasonably priced and in town, Gordi's has a nostalgic ski atmosphere with hanging racing bibs. Cozy setting with casual food and drinks away from the mountain. View more.

QUICK STATS

Passes: Ikon Pass or the College Silver New England Pass for $279

Terrain: 61 trails, 6 terrain parks, 8 tree skiing areas

Terrain Mix: 20% Green, 60% Blue, 20% Black

Average Snowfall: 160 inches

Vertical Drop: 2,100 ft

Lifts: 11 total - 1 gondolas, 2 express quads

 
 

Okemo

Best for Day Trips & Starting Out

1/2

Overview. Located on the southern end of New England ski destinations, Okemo is on the Epic Pass and makes a convenient day trip. The resort tends to attract families from Boston and NYC and can be crowded. The Epic Northeast Value Pass, new for the 2020-21 season, offers great value at Okemo, Stowe and Mt. Snow. Okemo's uphill capacity (more than 35,000 people/hr) and modern lift infrastructure helps keep lines moving. The resort has some of the best snow-making and grooming in the region. On-mountain dining can be pricey. Okemo is best for students who can make a day trip, as other northeastern mountain may be more compelling for value and a younger culture.

College Passes: Epic Pass or the College Northeast Value Pass

HESITATIONS
  • Crowds. Okemo's proximity to major northeastern cities and Epic Pass access make it very popular

  • The après and dining scenes are higher end and mostly more family oriented

  • Beware of inexperienced skiers, there are a lot of young learners

  • The terrain is less varied and smaller in acreage than nearby Killington (~35 minutes away)

 LET'S GO 
  • Plenty of gentle terrain and top notch ski instruction make Okemo great for those just learning

  • The southern Vermont location makes for an easier day trip relative to other Northeastern mountains

  • The lift infrastructure is top notch and the heated bubble chairlift is a treat on cold days

  • Okemo allows uphill access which can be a fun way to change it up, save money and get great workout

APRÈS & DINING - TOP COLLEGE PICKS

  • Tom's Loft Tavern. A location play at the base of the mountain. The bar's motto is "warm beer, lousy food, grumpy owner." View more

  • Sitting Bull. Nachos and live entertainment right at the Base of the mountain. View more

  • Mojo's. Low key spot for fresh Mexican. Can't go wrong with tacos and beer. View more

  • Main & MountainInspired cocktail list in a newly renovated motel bar. View more

QUICK STATS

Passes: Epic Pass or the College Northeast Value Pass

Terrain: 121 Trails, 8 Terrain Parks 

Terrain Mix: 22% Green, 36% Blue, 32% Black

Average Snowfall: 200 inches

Vertical Drop: 2,200 ft

Lifts: 20 total - 2 gondolas, 5 express quads

 
 

Smugglers' Notch

Best for Thrill Seekers and a Relaxed Vibe

1/2

Overview. Don't be deterred by Smugglers' Notch marketing itself as "America's Family Resort." Smuggs offers wide-ranging terrain that is perfect for a college skier to push his/herself or just to cruise with friends. It's not the easiest to get to from Boston or NYC, but the extra drive-time will be worth it. Smuggs is not a bustling party scene, but of-age college students can still find acoustic music, comedy shows, cold beer, and good food here. Lodging options provide variety; splurge on a luxurious condo, or spread out in a 1990s-style home. Staying at any of Smuggs' properties grants access to heated pools and hot tubs. 

College Passes: Smuggs remains independent and has its own season pass as well as the College Season Pass.

HESITATIONS
  • If you are looking to party, the low key après scene may underwhelm

  • Smuggs is further and more of a trek from major urban areas 

  • Slow, two seater lifts aren't great for lift-rides with your crew

 LET'S GO 
  • Thrill-seekers will have a blast. The resort is home to the only Triple-Black Diamond trail in the East (The Black Hole)

  • Smuggs' laid-back "grab a beer and relax" après vibe is perfect for those looking to unwind

  • Smuggs' college pass is one of the best values in the Northeast

  • Smuggs offers a variety in lodging accommodations to fit your budget

APRÈS - TOP COLLEGE PICKS

  • Lot #1. The BYOB après capital of New England; located on Sterling Mountain, this is where the locals go; rub elbows with the Smuggs die-hards and someone may give you a free hot dog! View more

  • The Black Bear Tavern. At the bottom of Madonna Mtn, this is most convenient place to start your après festivities. Live music is a bonus. View More.

  • Brewster River Pub. Great food and beer, just 5 minutes from the base. View more.

  • The Village Tavern. The nachos here are worth the 10 minutes from Smuggs to Jeffersonville, VT.  View more.

QUICK STATS

Passes: Smuggs College Season Pass for $229

Terrain: 78 Named Trails, 6 Terrain Parks 

Terrain Mix: 19% Green, 50% Blue, 31% Black

Average Snowfall: 280 inches

Vertical Drop: 2,610 ft

Lifts: 8 total - 6 fixed-grip doubles, 2 surface lifts

Jay Peak

Best for Reliable Natural Conditions

1/2

Overview. Located near the Vermont/Canada border, Jay Peak tends to have some of the best skiing conditions and terrain in the East. The bad news, this far north location makes for a longer trip from most big cities. The good news, the crowds are far more manageable, especially on weekends. If you have the time, the trip is well worth it! The massive Pump House Indoor Waterpark offers a fun alternative to those less inclined to the cold and snow. Airbnb offers great value for accommodations for larger groups. Jay Peak is incredible for a full weekend but is a bit far from most colleges to make a good day trip.

College Passes: New this season, and only until Dec-25, the 2-year Jay Only Student Pass with unlimited access to Jay Peak for the 2020-21 and 21-22 seasons for $299.

HESITATIONS
  • Day trips here are harder given far north location (xx from Boston)

  • Smaller, more isolated town makes for limited night lift compared to Killington or Stowe

  • Harder to reach and more expensive without a car. The closest airport is located in Burlington, VT about 1.5 hours away ( airport shuttles run ~$60 each way) 

 LET'S GO 
  • Jay Peak averages nearly 350 inches of snow annually, making for more reliable conditions than most resorts in the Northeast 

  • Exclusive discounts available for college students

  • With nearly 5,000 acres, there is terrain for all levels so great for multi-skiing level groups

  • The massive Pump House Indoor water park has hot tubs and a bar-; a unique and relaxing après scene

  • Fun for experts with a 2,153' vertical drop, and "if you can see it, you can ski it policy"

APRÈS - TOP COLLEGE PICKS

  • Lot #1. Located on mountain in the Tram Haus Lodge. Tower Bar offers a cozy, fireside ambiance with live music, beer and casual eats. View more.

  • The Drink. Head to the top floor of the waterpark, ideally post hot tub, for a tropical-themed drink; plenty of TVs for sports watching. View more

  • Ski Haus Deli. Casual burgers and peers at the top of the mountain. Great photo opp too View more

  • Miso Hungry. Warm up with ramen at the base of Jay Peak. Miso Hungry presents a change of pace to normal. View more.

QUICK STATS

Passes: Jay Only Student Pass for $249 or 2-Year for $299

Terrain: 81 Named Trails, 4 Terrain Parks 

Terrain Mix: 20% Green, 40% Blue, 40% Black

Average Snowfall: 359 inches

Vertical Drop: 2,153 ft

Lifts: 9 total - 1 tram, 4 quads

 
 

Sugarloaf

Best for Challenging Yourself

1/2

Overview. The moguls and above-the-tree-line skiing here are reminiscent of conditions out West. Sugarloaf is the second highest peak in Maine and has some of the best skiing in the northeast. Due to its distance, Sugarloaf is also generally less crowded than other northeast mountains. Despite the lack of a large mountain village, Sugarloaf has several awesome après options (newly renovated Widowmaker and The Rack). The lively scene here benefits from everyone congregating to get the party going. The further distance is better for a weekend trip and may require a splurge on accommodations. We recommend AirBNB, but it can still be pricey.

College PassesNew this season, the Maine Pass (College Gold) offers unlimited access to Sugarloaf and Sunday River for $449. The College Silver Pass offers unlimited access with 12 blackout dates for $299. Pass sales ended October 14th.

HESITATIONS
  • Harder to reach than most other northeastern resorts

  • Dining /aprés options are limited and sometimes crowded

  • Lodging is somewhat more limited than other destinations – we recommend using AirBnB and booking as early as possible

 LET'S GO 
  • Great for students who are seeking advanced/expert terrain, especially those used to skiing in the West

  • Further location keeps the crowds away 

  • Casual, old school skiing atmosphere

  • A small, contained mountain village and free shuttles eliminate the need to drive during or after aprés ski

APRÈS - TOP COLLEGE PICKS

  • The Rack. Beers, bbq and burgers at the bottom of the Access Road. Live entertainment is fun; owned by Olympic Gold Medalist, Seth Wescott. View more.

  • The Bag & Kettle. An institution, "The Bag" is Famous for its burgers and house brewed beer. View more

  • Bullwinkle's Bistro. Located on Windrow Trail, the french fry portions are generous, the fire is cozy and it's easy to get back to the slopes View more

  • The Widowmaker. You can't leave without passing by the Widowmaker at the top of the Base Lodge. Relax with 20+ Maine brewed bars on tap. View more.

QUICK STATS

Passes: The College Gold Pass (currently off sale)

Terrain: 162 Named Trails, 5 Terrain Parks 

Terrain Mix: 23% Green, 34% Blue, 27% Black, 16% Expert Only

Average Snowfall: 200 inches

Vertical Drop: 2,820 ft

Lifts: 13 total - 4 high speed quads 

The Company

About Us

Our Story

Contributors

Contact Us

Get in Touch

Join our Team

Follow Us

  • White Instagram Icon
  • White Twitter Icon
  • Facebook

Terms of Use   Privacy Policy

 © 2020 Avant Ski LLC. All rights reserved.