sunset over the slopes with fresh snow

From Beginner Slopes to Expert Terrain: A Guide to Skiing Adventures Near Waterbury

Waterbury is surrounded by snow-capped peaks on all sides during the winter, making it the perfect home base for exploring and skiing Vermont powder, with four world-class resorts less than a half-hour drive away. Our north-central Vermont area, which includes the tallest peak in the state at Stowe, legendary high alpine snow chutes at Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, and Bolton Valley’s highest-in-Vermont base elevation – is renowned for the quality and quantity of annual snowfall. These four local resorts average around 300 inches of fresh snow every winter (they’ve already received over 35 inches during the early weeks of the 2023-24 season), with much more added to that total via extensive snowmaking programs. 

You’ll also find rentals and lessons available at every resort, including adult and kids group lessons or private sessions with expert ski instructors – all skill levels and family members can join in the winter fun. And for those who don’t want to ski, there’s plenty else: snowshoeing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, or just relaxing in the cozy lodge and shopping in the stores spread throughout the base area.

Whichever resort you choose, from the modern amenities and wide-ranging terrain at Stowe or Sugarbush to the laidback and less-ritzy atmosphere at Bolton Valley and Mad River Glen, our Waterbury bed and breakfast is just miles away from epic and exhilarating skiing and snowboarding.

skiing along a path
Stowe Mountain Resort 5781 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT 05672

When people think about skiing Vermont slopes, Stowe often comes to mind – it’s not only the first ski resort to open in the state (way back in 1937), but its trail map also includes Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont. Just 17 miles north of your Old Stagecoach room off scenic Route 100, Stowe’s terrain comprises not one but two separate peaks (Mt Mansfield and Spruce Peak), connected by the Over Easy gondola, making it convenient to jump back and forth between the two areas throughout the day. Both peaks have primarily expert terrain up high, with a welcoming mix of easy and more challenging runs spread amongst the lower lift zones. Overall, 50% of their 485 skiable acres is intermediate (blue), with the other 50% split between easy (green) and advanced (black), making it an excellent mountain if you have skiers or boarders of mixed abilities in your group.

Stowe is now part of the multi-mountain Epic pass, including resorts in other states, so you’ll ride for free if you already have an Epic pass and will get 20% off food at different restaurants at the resort. After an afternoon of pristine skiing and riding, wind down at the Whistle Pig Pavilion, famous for its rye whiskey and rustic ski lodge ambiance. Try the fire-baked raclette cheese, a delectable treat from the Swiss Alps, and a warm drink like the Hot Buttered Pig, made with rye, hot cider, and spiced butter. If you’d rather have some classic Vermont cider for your apres-ski session, head down the road to Stowe Cider, one of our favorite Waterbury-area cideries that turns into a party on ski weekends, with live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

mid jump of a man skiing
Bolton Valley Resort 4302 Bolton Access Rd, Richmond, VT 0547

With its motto, “Vermont, Naturally,” Bolton Valley embodies the spirit of living, playing, and valuing the natural beauty of the Green Mountains. Unlike other resorts that started small and eventually sold to the highest corporate bidder, Bolton Valley has been family-run since the beginning, with day-to-day operations still within the DesLauriers family. They’re also the closest resort to us, just 11 miles away and practically our neighbors off Highway 89, making it the easiest and quickest ski area to access from downtown Waterbury. All three peaks (Wilderness, Vista, and Timberline) within the resort boundaries have routes that range from easy to expert, including long, gentle greens like Sherman’s Pass and winding blues like Alta Vista. At the top of Vista Peak, take a midday break between runs to climb the wooden ladder to the top of the Lookout Tower, where you’ll find some of the most spectacular vistas anywhere in the entire state, along with a plaque noting all of the mountain peaks within view. You’ll also get an up-close view of their on-mountain wind turbine, which harnesses ? of the power they use and speaks to their conservation-minded approach.

Although they only have six lifts, Bolton’s terrain stretches far, encompassing over 300 acres and three terrain parks. They’re also the only ski resort around that has night skiing, with ten trails lit up until 10 pm, and for just $10 more than a regular day lift ticket, you can get a day/night ticket that provides 13 hours of skiing access in one day! For a midday meal, saddle up to the bar near the toasty fireplace at James Moore Tavern for a Bolton Smash burger made with locally farmed Boyden beef and a pint of beer from one of several legendary craft breweries in and around Waterbury.

snowboarding down the mountain
Mad River Glen Cooperative 57 Schuss Pass, Waitsfield, VT 05673

Heading south from Waterbury on Route 100, you enter the stunning and picturesque Mad River Valley amid towering peaks like General Stark Mountain, home to Mad River Glen. As the only co-operatively owned ski resort in the country – where “skier-owners” vote on decisions and have paid off the mortgage for the private land through their dues – Mad River Glen truly stands alone in its proudly independent, non-commercial and community-minded approach. This resort doesn’t suit the bill if you’re looking for the most state-of-the-art lifts and upscale lodges. But if you’re a powder hound and thrill-seeker on the hunt for some of the East Coast’s steepest and most challenging skiing, perfect moguls, and snow-packed glades, look no further than the Single Chair, a mile-long lift that provides 2,000+ feet of continuous skiing from its highest point.

Even if you’re not an expert skier, the Birdland and Sunnyside lifts have plenty of green and blue runs accessible from their respective points on the mountain. A bonus is that their lift tickets have stayed affordable over the many decades (they celebrate their 75th anniversary this season), with a half-day late afternoon lift ticket under $40, unheard of among current ski resorts. One quirk remaining from the early days is their ski-only rule, so leave the snowboard at home if you head to Mad River Glen.

Sugarbush Resort 102 Forrest Dr, Warren, VT 05674

A few miles further down Route 100 from Mad River Glen and still only 20 miles from our doorstep, Sugarbush rivals any East Coast resort in its size and variety of runs. Like Stowe, its massive trail map includes multiple mountains (Lincoln Peak, Castlerock, and Mt Ellen Peak), all around 4,000 feet high, and serves 111 trails via 16 lifts, the most of any resort in the area. Since joining nationwide ski conglomerate Alterra in 2020, they’ve also put a lot of money into improving the ski experience, like replacing aging and slow double chairlifts with quads, allowing you to spend more time skiing and less time waiting in lift lines. With their Alterra agreement, you can ride for free with an Ikon pass, popular with many Colorado and West Coast skiers, making it easy to plan an East Coast getaway if you live out west. There are plenty of beginner and intermediate zones on the lower half of the mountain, while the top half is mostly expert-only, especially off Castlerock, where you’ll find the steepest and most adventurous runs.

Sugarbush also takes pride in the quality of its freestyle parks, including the Riemergasse, which is over 2,000 feet long and includes 50 features, from massive jumps to creatively designed rails. Snowboarders looking to improve their skills will find plenty to love here. Join the after-ski festivities at Castlerock Pub in the base area, including comedy nights on various Saturdays throughout the season, when you can catch local and New York-based comedians on stage. Have some laughs, nosh on some tasty pulled pork or wings, and sip one of their cocktails made with whiskey from Green Mountain Distillers, one of our favorite of many outstanding local distilleries.

Stay with us, where skiing Vermont powder in the gorgeous Green Mountains is a rite of passage!