Anyone who has hit the slopes in the Northeast in the last 50 years has likely pondered a trip to Vermont’s Okemo Mountain. It’s true that today’s heated high-speed bubble chairs, terrain parks and slopeside accommodations are a far cry from the original Poma lift of 1956. But Okemo’s charm has endured the test of time.
Ride Up, Slide Down
From bunny slopes to mogul fields, Okemo has terrain for every level. The resort has two base lodge areas, the Clock Tower and Jackson Gore. Each has magic carpets for beginners and chairlifts to gentle green runs. Those wanting more vertical can ride nearby lifts to access longer beginner trails, ample intermediate slopes and choice advanced runs featuring moguls next to groomed bail-out lanes—just in case. Drop into one of eight terrain parks for some fun at your own pace, or watch freestyle gurus fly above the icy 18-foot-high walls of the Superpipe.
“With our new Real.Easy card system, you can skip the ticket line and go straight to the lifts,” says Bonnie MacPherson, a spokeswoman at Okemo. A reusable card costs $5.00, and you buy lift access from the Okemo web site. “You can also load money onto the card so older kids can buy lunch if they are on their own.”
Take advantage of the programs offered by the Ski & Ride School to get your kids started right or to tune up your own technique. Okemo also offers multi-day Women’s Alpine Adventure clinics. “When you come to a program like this, coaches tell you how to best improve over several days,” says Keri Reid, Okemo’s Ski & Ride School Assistant Director. Women are grouped by ability, but coaches also accommodate groups of friends who come back year after year. “We want everyone to enjoy the experience, whether they want to improve or just enjoy the mountain with their friends.”
Off the Slopes
There are plenty of off-slope activities at Okemo. Jackson Gore Village features the mountain coaster and snow tubing. Ice skating is also nearby, complete with skate rentals and DJ Dance parties on certain nights. For warmer après ski activities, the Spring House has an indoor pool with a water slide, hot tub and sauna.
Holidays are special at Okemo with torchlight parades and fireworks, live music and special family events, such as magic shows and nature presentations. And, you can always treat the family to s’mores by the fire in the Jackson Gore lobby.
Those wanting gourmet meals can dine at the Coleman Brook Tavern, which features Vermont-sourced ingredients. On the other side of the mountain, Epic restaurant offers fine lunches as well as weekend Snowcat Dining Adventure. Ride in a snowcat from Jackson Gore base area to Epic for a five-course feast.
Getting There and Staying Over
Getting to Okemo without a car is a breeze. From Penn Station, hop on the Amtrak Vermonter to Bellows Falls, NH or the Ethan Allen Express to Rutland, VT. Okemo has a shuttle service to and from these train stations.
Okemo has slopeside accommodations with ski in/ski out options for easy access to the mountains. The Jackson Gore Inn offers a more traditional hotel experience, while the Mountain Lodge offers more economical condos.
Photo credits: Okemo Mountain
Karen de Seve writes about the outdoors, science and nature for all sorts of media, from National Geographic to kids TV to natural history museums. Check out her snow sports blog www.famsnowtime.blogspot.com and follow @kdeseve on twitter.
March 4th NYC ski bus to Okemo: https://ovrride.com/shop/okemo-saturday-day-trip-mar-4th/