Dare 2b + RootsRated present   An Insider’s Guide to the best Northeast Winter Resorts
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Okemo Mountain Resort

Ludlow, VT

One of the most beloved ski resorts in New England, Okemo is friendly and welcoming to brand-new skiers. It’s also great for experts looking to challenge themselves in terrain parks and glades.

Resort Skiing

Having a fun day on the trails at Okemo.
Having a fun day on the trails at Okemo.Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort
Okemo Mountain Resort has a vertical drop of 2,200 feet, the largest in Southern Vermont. Within its alpine landscape, immersed in soaring views of the Green Mountains, you are free to choose your own adventure: float down rolling cruisers, drop off a burly black diamond, or even carve fresh turns through frosted glades.

Since acquiring the mountain in 1982, the Mueller family has strived to ensure consistent trail conditions from opening day until the end of the season, even during snow-challenged years. Extensive snow making resources cover 98% of the trail area, and their impeccable grooming has won a slurry of awards and accolades. In a region that struggles with icy conditions and dry winters, Okemo’s solid foundation of plush snow and polished runs have earned the resort a loyal fan base, as well as the reputation for providing a reliably outstanding experience.

Okemo boasts 121 trails and a total of 20 lifts laced over 644 acres of ski-able terrain. The skill levels are divided fairly evenly from novice to expert. The trails include a variety of styles and temperaments, allowing for a unique adventure with every run. Glide down the wide, rolling ribbon of Dreamweaver, then cut tight turns across the wicked face of Black Out. Even the moderate trails contain opportunity for exploration, with jumps, berms, and narrow side-cuts weaving through the forest.

Bluebird days on the groomers at Okemo bring smiles to everyone’s faces. Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

Okemo is divided into four distinct areas, each serviced by at least one high-speed quad. The Main Mountain offers 1,700 vertical feet of terrain, with classic groomers like Jolly Green Giant and World Cup. In the early morning, aficionados will warm up on the newly minted corduroy of Sapphire, or get loose and limber on the four-and-half-mile long Mountain Road trail, which descends gently from the summit, through Jackson Gore Junction, and all the way to the base lodge.

When you’re ready to shred, Defiance and Chief are punchy Main Mountain favorites. Or, plunge down the plumb line of Nor’Easter, a steep straight shot from the summit to the Sugar Shack. If it’s moguls you’re after, you can find the powdery pillows on Ledges and Blackout, or bang through the bumps on Sel’s Choice, which funnels directly into the Zone Terrain Park.
If you’re gunning for elevation, the South Face lays claim to the 3,344-foot summit of Okemo. This area contains the majority of double-black diamonds and natural, ungroomed trails, and it’s where the locals go to find freshies after a big dump. But it’s not all steep and deep. If you’re a newbie, you can still savor the views up top before hopping on Dream Weaver, or shooting down Sundog to connect with Mountain Road.
The terrain at Solitude is dominated by deeply enjoyable intermediate runs. This area, nestled between Jackson Gore and the Main Mountain, is ideal for intermediate skiers looking to cruise corduroy and find their flow. Gain confidence and hone technique by lapping classics like Sidewinder and Heavens Gate, or get a taste of the side country on Tree Dancer, a blue-square glade.
High up on Jackson Gore is where you’ll find the steepest terrain in the resort. This region is connected to the rest of the mountain by Sunset Strip, a mellow green ribbon of a groomer. The relative isolation of Jackson Gore means less trail congestion and peaceful turns on softer snow. When mother nature has been generous, you’ll find face shots on double diamonds like White Lightning and Big Bang.
Okemo Mountain is home to seven terrain parks and the longest superpipe on the East coast. For a top-to-bottom, nonstop play run, hop on the Green Ridge Triple and tackle the mountain’s unofficial Terrain Park Circuit. Begin on the Tomahawk Trail, where you’ll find the highly creative features of Rockstar Park. The jumps, hits, jibs, and rails continue for the entire length of Upper and Lower Tomahawk Trail, then flow right into the Zone, a black diamond terrain park, which funnels into the AMP Energy Superpipe.

Airborne at Okemo. M Pincus

Expert skiers and riders can get their fix of extreme terrain at the OMS Crazy Train Park, a slope-style influenced competition course that was created in collaboration with Okemo Mountain School. More fun can be found at Broken Arrow, an expert-only terrain park in the trees featuring a snake run course and a dynamic blend of natural and man-made features.

Bounder Park, the mountain’s designated “Start Park” on the gentle terrain of Jackson Gore’s lower region, is the best place for newbies to try their hand with ramps and jumps. At Hot Dog Hill, visitors will find Okemo’s signature progression terrain, created to encourage new freestylers to improve their skills in a safe and intuitive fashion.  Robin’s Nest is the family friendly park where you’ll find plenty of groms and future freestlye stars throwing their first tricks. 
New for the 2015/2016 season, Okemo Mountain is replacing traditional lift tickets with the Real Easy Card. Visitors can now store their card inside a pocket without having to worry about retrieving it at the lifts. Instead, skiers and riders will glide through special gates equipped with Radio Frequency Identification, which will open automatically upon detecting the card. After initially purchasing your Real Easy Card at the ticket window, you are then free to load your card online and enjoy direct lift access in subsequent visits. This advancement will create fast and efficient lift loading process and reduce wasteful paper products.
Also new this season is the addition of a second high-speed, heated bubble lift, the Quantum Four. Okemo now holds the distinction as the only resort in North America to feature multiple bubble chairlifts. Visitors can now ascend to the summit of Jackson Gore inside a bright orange transparent dome, protected from weather and windchill and surrounded by soaring mountain views.

Side-Country Skiing

Get into the backcounrty to find those secret powder stashes and untouched chutes.
Get into the backcounrty to find those secret powder stashes and untouched chutes. Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

For those in search of the rugged and pristine experience of the backcountry, Okemo Mountain Resort boasts 48 acres of glades—forested, off-piste, skiable terrain. And those are just the ones on the trail map! Visitors are allowed to ski at their own risk anywhere within resort boundaries, where secret powder stashes and unmarked gullies are just waiting for you to jump in and claim first tracks.

Okemo is dedicated to providing all levels of skiers and riders with a wide variety of experience and quality terrain. Whistler is the shortest and easiest glade containing 1,600 feet of evenly spaced trees. The snow inside Whistler is occasionally groomed, so that beginners and kids can enjoy corduroy turns in the woods.

One third of the dozen official gladed runs are designed for intermediate skiers who wish to get a taste for tree skiing and challenge themselves on new terrain. Whispering Pines and Everglade, both high up on the main mountain, feature a moderate slope and a spacious white birch forest. Link up Everglade with the lower section of Mountain Road for a long, sweet descent that is half trees, half wide open trail.

Finding some nice powder in the woods at Okemo. John Silvester

The other two-thirds of the gladed trails are designated as black or double-black diamond, with steep pitches and dense forest that demand tight turns and precision. Long after first chair, skiers and riders can sink into deep powder stashes hidden inside double-diamonds like Loose Spruce on the South Face, and Jackson Gore’s Outrage. There is even a gladed terrain park, Broken Arrow, which combines the beauty of the backcountry with playful features including log slides and pillow lines.

If you want to ski like a local, drop from Okemo’s snow frosted summit into the six acres of Double Diamond Glade. On a bluebird day, this southern-facing birch forest is drenched in sun—a perfect place to escape the crowds and bask in the off-piste pleasures of soft snow and quick turns. Jackson Gore’s two double diamond glades, Black Hole and Supernova, are equally rewarding.

The South Face, Main Mountain, and Jackson Gore are knit together with swaths of unmapped, unchartered forest. For die-hard backcountry explorers, these are the true playgrounds of pure wilderness—a treasure chest of silky snow where the aerobic exhilaration of trail blazing and exploration can be found. The deep gully between Jackson Gore and the main mountain is particularly alluring.

As the interest in backcountry skiing and uphill travel soars across the nation, Okemo is strategizing to provide visitors with the opportunity to earn their turns. A selection of Alpine Touring skis, boots, skins, and Telemark gear are available to rent at the Okemo Clock Tower Base Lodge. During operational hours, uphill travel is limited to green and blue trails.

There’s magic in a wintery New England forest, and sometimes the best way to fully absorb that rarefied blend of serenity and exhilaration is to leave the lifts and crowds behind, and set out on a cross-country skiing adventure. The Okemo Valley Nordic Center has more than 13 miles of tracked, groomed trails for cross-country and skate-skiing.


Sometimes the best way to fully absorb that rarefied blend of serenity and exhilaration is to leave the lifts and crowds behind. Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

One of the greatest aerobic workouts possible, nordic skiing is as athletic as it is meditative. Glide smoothly over the open meadows of the novice Fox Trot trail, or power through forested hills on the challenging six miles of Ridge Runners. The white world is quiet and snow-muffled, and the only sounds you will hear will be the hiss of your skis sliding through powder.

At the Nordic Center, you’ll also find about eight miles of snowshoe trails. In the past two decades, snowshoeing has evolved from an age-old technique of snow travel into a full blown winter sport. The shoes lightweight, woven design allows you to float easily over the surface of snow instead of sinking beneath it. The narrow, ungroomed trails weave through the forest and around the frozen pond.

New for the 2015/2016 season, you can experience the new craze in snow sports: fatbiking! These mountain bikes are fitted with wider hubs and super fat tires, designed to maximize stability, floatation, and  traction on snow and sand. Once an obscure novelty, primarily used to travel between slopeside taverns on West Coast ski resorts, fatbikes are coming into their own as an athletic and exhilarating mode of self-powered winter adventure.

Fatbikes are available to rent and demo at Okemo’s Mountain Outfitter Shop. Give it a whirl on a network of groomed winter riding trails around Jackson Gore. The big, bouncy feel is addictive, fun, and unlike anything you’ve experienced before on a bike.

Family

Grab the kids and hit the slopes at Okemo Mountain Resort.
Grab the kids and hit the slopes at Okemo Mountain Resort. Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort
Okemo Mountain Resort is a family-owned and operated ski resort with a proud history of encouraging parents and children to develop a love for snow sports. It’s no wonder that it’s consistently voted as one of the top family ski resorts in the nation by places like Parents MagazineThe Huffington Post, and Forbes.com.
Children under the age of six are welcome to ski for free. The mountain is blanketed in a generous amount of friendly terrain, including bunny hills, novice trails, and no less than seven surface lifts, where kids can become familiar with the sport and comfortable on the mountain. Okemo is proud to offer family friendly terrain parks and beginner gladed runs to encourage children to tackle new challenges while developing a passion for the many varied components of skiing and snowboarding.

Grab the family and hit the groomers at Okemo. Jasen Miller

Jackson Gore is the epicenter of family adventure at Okemo. This portion of the mountain features a healthy selection of green novice trails. Some, like Fast Track and Bright Star Basin, begin mid-mountain and are accessible from the Coleman Brook Express Quad, just steps away from the Jackson Gore Inn. Others, like Sunset Strip, begin at the top of the 2,725 foot peak and roll gently down the shoulder of the mountain, allowing new skiers to bask in the exposure and long-range views afforded from the summit.  Families will also enjoy gliding down Tuckered Out, a blue square that flows from peak to base lodge in one smooth, winding run. 

Trailside lodging with direct mountain access makes it easy to keep a flexible schedule in case the little ones (or mom and dad!) get worn out. Rustic New England charm meets hotel conveniences at the Jackson Gore Inn, where you will find restaurants and bars, heated pools, hot tubs, child care, play structures, and a roaring lobby fireplace all under one roof. There’s even a complimentary ski check to help you keep your family’s gear organized and secure. 
For families looking for something a bit more secluded, Solitude Village is located midway up the mountain, at the base of Solitude Peak. Its ski-in ski-out access makes it a breeze to head out for a morning session, then drop back in for an afternoon siesta. The suites and villas are spacious and quiet, with private kitchens and multiple bedrooms. A game room, video arcade, and indoor/outdoor pools and jacuzzis make Solitude Village an ideal spot for families with older children who wish to explore independently.
Okemo’s skiing and riding school has excellent instructional programs for children as young as three years old. Whether they’re just getting acquainted with wearing ski boots, or already barreling down the bunny hill, a low student to teacher ratio in the early programs ensure that each young student gets individualized attention and customized instruction on the mountain. Big kids and teenagers will love the advanced courses, which introduce little rippers to secret spots and unmapped, gladed pockets. 
For the smallest family members, the Okemo Penguin Playground Daycare provides care for little ones six months to four years old. Penguin is a cozy, safe, and fully state-licensed facility where children enjoy stories, songs, and arts and crafts. Parents can rest assured that their little ones are well cared for as they savor the luxury of a few hours alone on the mountain. 

Tubing fun is just one of the many opportunities Okemo has to offer kids after-hours. Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

The Kids Night Out Program provides kids six months to six years with their very own après-ski experience. Mom and dad can enjoy a quiet dinner out while the kids enjoy an evening of entertainment all their own. Kid’s Night Out X is designed for 7 to 12 year olds, and includes outdoor activities like swimming, skating, and snow tubing. 

The family fun continues at Okemo long after the lifts have stopped spinning for the day. For visitors who are still gunning for more downhill exhilaration, snow tubing at Jackson Gore is pure, fast fun. Specially groomed chutes create a track for inflatable snow tubes, so you can soar down the mountain so smoothly it feels as if you’re floating. A magic-carpet surface lift brings you back to the top  for one more ride. (And another, and another…)
Ice skating is an old-fashioned New England winter tradition. Take a whirl in The Ice House at Jackson Gore, which includes a regulation sized hockey rink and a skating pavilion of smooth, polished ice. An attached warming room lets parents sit back, sip hot chocolate and take a break from the action.
Here’s something that the kids will talk about for years to come: a snowmobile tour designed just for them! Five to twelve-year-olds can drive their own sled on a guided, twenty-minute tour across a snowy meadow. Kids go crazy over the Indy 120 XC. It’s not a toy, it’s a real, kid-sized snowmobile (that tops out at eight mph)! 
One of Okemo’s most popular attractions is the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster. Riders can control the speed of their sled-car as they glide smoothly through the snowy alpine world. Following the natural contours of the mountain, the track includes includes waves, giant banking corkscrew turns and a twister section. There’s no way you’ll be able to ride the Timber Ripper just once. 
When you’ve gotten your fix of outdoor adventure, step inside the Spring House fitness and aquatic center. You can relax in the hot tub as the kids play in the fountains and race down the whimsical frog slide into the heated splash pool. The Spring House is the perfect spot for little bodies to expend the last of their energy before settling in for the evening.

Après Ski

Enjoy a craft beer and good food after a fun day on the slopes.
Enjoy a craft beer and good food after a fun day on the slopes. Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

With an abundance of on-mountain cafes and restaurants, the days of gnawing a frozen candy bar on the chair lift are long gone. After an invigorating morning on the slopes, glide over to the Sugarhouse Cafe for a pick-me-up. Just uphill from the Starburst Six Chairlift, the Sugarhouse dishes up Vermont specialties, hot soups, and custom made deli sandwiches, and even offers a Thai noodle-bowl station. For slopeside staples, take a seat on the heated deck at Smokey Joe’s Outdoor BBQ for a basket of wings and a Long Trail Ale.

If you’re feeling indulgent, Epic at Solitude serves up artisan lunch fare. Choose from small plates like the Parisian style gnocchi with winter vegetables, or buttermilk-fried chicken in a Vermont maple glaze. The Epic Umami Burger truly lives up to its name, with prosciutto, shiitake mushrooms, a cheese fritter, and a double beef patty piled on a brioche bun. If you’d rather grab and go, the Deli at Epic serves up wraps, cider donuts, seasoned fries, and New England clam chowder.


You have plenty of choices when it comes to finding treats between runs down the mountain. Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

Zen Den Sushi in the Jackson Gore Village offers a healthy and flavorful alternative to traditional ski resort fare. The menu includes yellowtail sashimi, Japanese seaweed salad and a selection of fresh sushi rolls with pickled ginger and wasabi. What could be more satisfying than stepping in from the cold and drinking a bowl of piping hot miso soup? (Well, besides a warm tokkuri of Sake.)

After last chair, local powder hounds can be found gathered around the bar at the Loft Tavern, a rowdy place filled with juke-box tunes and ski-bum bartenders. Here you’ll find the lowest prices on the resort, the best beer selection, and a great burger—the aprés ski holy trinity. The newly renovated Sitting Bull Bar and Restaurant in the Clock Tower base lodge is another hot spot where you can enjoy heaping plates of nachos and live music on Saturday afternoons.

If you’re looking to settle in for a full evening of dining and spirits, a world of indulgence awaits at the Jackson Gore Village. Kick off the night with a stop at the fireside Coleman Lobby Bar for a white chocolate martini or a s’moretini with a graham cracker rim, shaken up by the creative mixologists behind the bar. In the mood for something straight up? Choose from a broad selection of liquor that includes single malt scotch, single barrel bourbons, and cognac.

The Coleman Brook Tavern features contemporary gourmet dining, with fresh modern entrees like Vermont maple siracchi ravioli or grilled fillet minion with black truffle potatoes. An eclectic dessert menu includes tropical mousse frozen in a white chocolate cage, ice cream bon-bons, and do-it-yourself s’mores roasted over a tabletop fire. Coleman Brook also features a wine room, an intimate dining area exclusively for adults and private parties. The wine collection, which includes 7,000 bottles and 800 different varieties, has been awarded the Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence.


Both casual and fine-dining options are available at the resort. Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

Also in the Jackson Gore Village, Siena brings the taste of Tuscany to the Green Mountains. The menu features classic Italian comfort foods like chicken parmesan, ravioli, and Tuscan short ribs that are sure to please the whole family. The dishes are cooked in an open kitchen and served in a cozy and casual dining room.

For an exquisite dining experience in an unforgettable setting, don’t miss the Snowcat Dining Adventure. Travel by Snowcat across the mountain from Jackson Gore to Epic at Solitude, where you will be served a five-course meal beside a roaring fire. The chef creates two brand new menus each week specifically for the occasion. The “Indulgent” menu is bold and exciting, using only the finest local and seasonal ingredients. The “Spa” menu features lighter creations, with an emphasis on health and wellness. Each of the five courses is paired with a different wine, personally selected by the mountain Sommelier.

At Okemo, the après-ski experience extends far beyond exemplary food and drink. The Spring House is a fitness and aquatic center, centrally located at Jackson Gore to help you achieve a seamless transition from ski boots to steam room. Go for a swim beneath the stars in the heated outdoor pool, and savor the blissful feeling as your snow-chilled muscles begin to relax. Top it off with a long soak in the hot tub or a few quiet moments in the sauna.

Just steps away from the Spring House, the spa treatments at Jackson Gore Village are the ultimate aprés luxury. The facials and body scrubs sound nearly as delicious and indulgent as Coleman Bar’s craft cocktail menu. The Vermont Maple and Brown Sugar scrub is a sweet and aromatic foaming scrub that gently exfoliates, leaving you with smooth skin and a rosy post-powder glow. The lavish Chocolate Lover’s Dream facial uses powerful antioxidants derived from pumpkin, pomegranate, and chocolate to leave your skin purified, detoxed, and deeply hydrated.

Pamper yourself with a blissful and restorative massage, a gift to your body after a demanding day on the mountain. Whether it’s Swedish, deep tissue, or hot stone therapy, your muscles and joints will reach a state of deep relaxation, while a sense of calm and balance is restored to your mind. If you’ve been carving endless turns since first chair, a sports massage combining deep tissue techniques with precision muscle stretching will help to alleviate tightness and muscle soreness, so that you can return to the slopes in optimal condition, ready for another full day of crushing.  

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