A Winter Guide to Vermont’s Mad River Valley

Powder turn at Sugarbush

With the more popular towns of Stowe and Burlington located just a stone’s throw away, many travelers heading to Vermont cruise right past the Mad River Valley without a second look. Vermont natives, however, know the secret; the Valley has just as much to offer as those other destinations — without the crowds.

Whether you are an outdoor adventurer searching for fresh powder or a city dweller simply looking to exchange the daily grind for a classic New England mountain retreat, the Mad River Valley will not disappoint.

Sugarbush by Sage Aidekman

Hit the slopes

As the state that receives more snow than any other on the east coast, it is no wonder that Vermont is such a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. Sugarbush Resort boasts an impressive 250-inch annual snowfall, 2,600-foot vertical drop, and over 4,000 acres of front and sidecountry terrain, making it the ideal destination for skiers and riders of all ability levels. For the avid skier, the renowned Mad River Glen may be worth a visit – but keep in mind, this is a skier-only resort!

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Grab some food

Although a quiet area, the Valley has no shortage of beer bars and restaurants. The Blue Stone, located in Waitsfield, has an impressive selection of the state’s finest craft beers as well as a variety of pizzas with locally-sourced ingredients. The Mad Taco is a popular local’s spot and offers a variety of local brews and creative (and filling) tacos.

The Sugarbush Inn

Spend the night

With an abundance of year-round activities to do and places to explore, one day in The Valley is usually not enough. Luckily, there are plenty of lodging options around. The Sugarbush Resort itself offers a handful of lodging options, such as the winter-only Sugarbush Inn which offers ski lodging classics like a fireplace and hot tub along with the ultra-convenient shuttle to the mountain. The West Hill House Bed and Breakfast is a great year-round option for those looking to a stay in a classic New England bed and breakfast. The inn has received multiple accolades for their commitment to sustainability which, you’ll notice everywhere from their on-site solar array to their locally sourced breakfast options to the reusable water bottles offered in each room.

Inside Scoop

The Valley is known for its winter events which celebrate the history and culture of this area of Northern Vermont. Our top picks include:

December: The annual Country Christmas is all about cozy holiday fun with roaring fires, plenty of sweet treats, shopping and appearances from various members of the Claus family.

January: Head to Mad River Glen for Roll Back the Clock Day where the mountain celebrates their 1949 prices with $3.50 tickets

February: On February 2, The Wunderbar will be hosting their New England Aprés party — one of the best parties in the East. Stop by for some great food, giveaways, and music.

March: Maple Syrup Festival – this  delicious weekend of festivities celebrates the start to sugaring season with maple themed activities and treats.

April: A raucous celebration that includes watching (or participating in) some daring skiing as participants try to Pond Skim along an 120 foot partially frozen lake.

Get to Mad River Valley from NYC

Travel to and around the Mad River Valley is easy thanks to Amtrak and the Mad Bus. From New York City, take Amtrak’s Vermonter line to Waterbury, and then hire a taxi service, such as C & L, to get into the Valley. The Mad Bus is a free shuttle service that stops at various points around the Valley during the winter months. 

For tips on planning your next visit to Vermont, go to Vermontvacation.com

Feature image courtesy of Hans von Briesen.