The Essential Guide to Stowe Ski Resort

Cable cars at the Stowe Ski resort Vermont USA
••• Martyn Goddard/Getty Images

When you think of skiing in the Northeast, Stowe Ski Resort is likely one of the first places that comes to mind. The earliest trails on Mount Mansfield in the town of Stowe in north-central Vermont were cut in 1933. In 2017, the ski-related operations and facilities at Stowe were purchased by Vail Resorts and it became Vail’s first and only East-Coast operation.

Stowe can be reached easily by car just 20 minutes off Interstate 89, by taking Amtrak to the Waterbury Station, or by plane, just a 40-minute drive from the Burlington airport.

The “Ski Capital of the East” boasts the longest average trail length in New England (3,603 feet) and more mile-long lifts than any other resort in the Northeast. There are 13 lifts in total (1 ten-person high-speed transfer gondola, 1 eight-person high-speed gondola, 4 quads, 2 triples, 2 doubles, and 3 surface lifts).

Stowe Ski Resort sees an average of 314 inches of snowfall per year on the highest mountain in Vermont, Mount Mansfield, at an elevation of 4,395 feet. The highest skiing elevation at the resort is 3,625 feet. The resort’s 485 developed, skiable acres are home to more than 116 trails of varying difficulty, which stretch 40 miles. Ski season at Stowe begins in mid-November (in 2017, the resort opened November 17) and goes to mid-April, depending on conditions.

Terrain

Stowe Ski Resort has 485 skiable acres; 2,360-foot vertical drop (fifth largest in New England, fourth largest in Vermont); 16% beginner; 55% intermediate; 29% expert/advanced.

Stowe’s 116 trails are dispersed across six distinct zones across the two mountains (Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak). Additionally, you’ll find 28 miles of trails for Nordic skiers, see details further below.

  • Advanced: Stowe is renowned for its “Front Four” double-black diamond trails (National, Goat, Starr, and Liftline), found in Middle Mansfield among other difficult trails. You’ll also find challenges in Mansfield Gondola and Upper Spruce Peak.

  • Intermediate: The majority of trails at Stowe fall into this category. At this resort, you’ll find some of the longest intermediate cruisers in the Northeast. Check out Spruce Peak and Mansfield Triple for some gentle but fun options.

  • Beginner: The Toll House Mountain zone on the southernmost flank of Mount Mansfield is home to the easiest trails at the resort. Visit Lower Spruce Peak for broad and gentle runs.

Lift Tickets

Lift tickets purchased at the window begin at $94 for adults (13-64), $80 for children (5-12), and $87 for seniors (65+) per day, off-peak. Peak tickets begin at $99 for adults, $84 for children, and $92 for seniors per day. Peak periods include the two days after Thanksgiving, the six days after Christmas, the Saturday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the weekend before Presidents’ Day.

Discounts are offered for “Super Seniors” (ages 70+), foot-traffic-only for gondola rides to the Cliff House Restaurant, multi-day packages, active U.S. Military Members, and tickets obtained at least 48 hours online in advance.

Food and Drink

Whether you’re interested in fine-dining high above the slopes or getting a casual meal in between runs, Stowe has plenty of options for you.

During the season, try these choice spots:

  • Cliff House Restaurant: At Cliff House Restaurant, experience fine-dining with fresh seasonal and artisan ingredients, a hand-picked wine list, and floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views on the shoulder of Mount Mansfield in an Austrian chalet. Enjoy special “Summit Series Dinners” on select dates throughout the season, including a “Winter Themed Wine Dinner”, “Vermont Beer Dinners”, and an “Artisan Cheese Dinner”. Because the Cliff House is only reachable by gondola, meals and events are weather-dependent.

  • Solstice Restaurant: For another fine-dining option with local, fresh, and mostly organic ingredients, visit Solstice Restaurant at the Stowe Mountain Lodge.

  • The Canteen: This family friendly cheap-eats option with views of Stowe Rocks and The Village Green provides even picky eaters with enough variety to fuel up before getting back on the slopes. Here you can find hand-tossed pizza, oven-baked subs, stromboli, snacks, and sweets.

  • Skinny Pancake: Crepes are the specialty at Skinny Pancake but you can also find other locally inspired and sourced cuisine at this quick stop at Spruce Peak Village Center, near the Over Easy Gondola.

  • The Great Room Grill and Spruce Bar: Fuel up on breakfast at one of the four exhibition cooking stations at this bistro before heading out into the cold. Lunch is also served. Later on in the day, you can find cappuccino and espresso at the bar plus local beers, signature drinks, and entertainment.

  • Mansfield Cafe: Find soups, made-to-order deli sandwiches, and grilled food at this casual stop in the Mansfield Base Lodge.

  • Octagon Cafe: For stunning views, coffee, beers, snacks, and a touch of culture, visit the Octagon Cafe at the top of the Four Runner Quad Lift. Check out some local art at the Frog Hollow Art Gallery while you’re up there.

  • The Den: This full bar at Mansfield Base Lodge with live entertainment on the weekends and holidays is the perfect spot to warm up after skiing for the 21+ crowd.

  • The Roost: We named The Roost, the lobby bar and restaurant at Topnotch Resort one of the best après ski spots in Vermont for its outdoor “patio living room”, shuffleboard tables, craft beer, and inventive cocktails.

  • The Rusty Nail: One of the town of Stowe’s most beloved spots is this live music venue and bar/restaurant with a Mexican menu, tequila, and cocktails.

Rentals and Gear

Rent your equipment for the day at the base lodges of either Spruce or Mansfield. If you’re in the market to buy new ski equipment, first try out the latest gear in the Front Four Demo Center next to the Four Runner Quad Lift on Mount Mansfield. Snowboarders can gain extra confidence by visiting the Burton Learn to Ride Center.

Retail shops at Stowe include Adventure Outfitters at the Adventure Center (active outerwear and kids’ toys), Stowe Shop (Stowe-branded items), Spruce Peak Sales Annex (clearance prices), Front Four Sports (ski gear and equipment), and Midway Lodge Shop (accessories and items with the resort logo).

Lessons and Clinics

The ski and snowboard school at Stowe is one of the oldest and most respected in the country. More than 300 instructors at Stowe are available to help whether you are looking for lessons in alpine skiing, snowboarding, or Nordic skiing.

For kids, full-day and seasonal classes are available for ages 3-14 with multiple age levels within that grouping. A special teen program for ages 13-16 who have some skiing ability is available in either full-day or seasonal classes as well. Adult group lessons are offered in 90-minute classes for beginners or 2.5 hour classes for all levels. If you prefer private lessons, they are priced by the hour or for a full day (6 hours).

Skiing and Snowboarding Alternatives

There’s plenty to do at Stowe aside from heading downhill. Take advantage of the other fun winter activities listed below:

  • Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing: Explore 28 miles of groomed cross-country trails at Stowe as well as 19 miles of backcountry terrain. There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails. Equipment is available to rent at the resort for adults, children, and they even have sleds to pull along your infants and toddlers.

  • Guided Snowshoe Tours: Take a morning, afternoon, or twilight tour out to frozen waterfalls, trails, and meadows with a guide, available daily during holiday weeks or Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays the rest of the season.

  • Ice-Skating: Find an outdoor rink with music and lights at Spruce Peak Visitor Center. Skating is free and skate-rentals are available.

  • Indoor Rock-Climbing: Climb multiple color-coded routes of varying difficulty, including a 12-foot-tall wall for children 12 and under with climbing holds in fun shapes.

  • Hiking: Hike the almost 5-mile-long Spruce Peak Trail, one of the best winter hikes in Vermont, up Spruce Mountain for a steep challenge with spectacular views as your reward.

Lodging

Stowe’s wide variety of accommodation options includes boutique hotels and inns, condos and cabins, country inns and B&Bs, destination spas, hotels and motels, resorts, rental homes, ski-in ski-out slopeside accommodations, and more.