An Insider's Guide to the Best Inbound Skiing at Okemo Mountain Resort

Having a fun day on the trails at Okemo.
Having a fun day on the trails at Okemo. Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort
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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.
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.
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 freestyle 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.

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