Best Massachusetts Ski Areas
A Guide to Skiing and Luxury Resorts
Heading out to one of the Massachusetts ski areas is a winter pastime that can be shared by all age groups and experience levels. What better way than to get a some serious exercise and have a blast while doing it, right?
One of the best things about skiing is Massachusetts is it's diverse landscape. The mountains with a higher "vertical drop" are located more towards the central to western part of the state near the Berkshire mountain area; vertical drop meaning the vertical feet between the top of the ski resort and the base of the resort.
The Massachusetts ski areas in the Berkshires are also more expansive as they provide more trail options, a wider acreage of trail space, and a higher overall trail count.
Towards the eastern part of the state, the ski areas here have a more intimate feeling with the convenience of their closer proximity to Boston.
Throughout this guide, I'll refer to the trail difficulties by their symbols:
Easiest and generally wide and groomed. Slope gradients average 6% - 25% (100% slope = 45 degree angle).
Also, be sure to check out these fun web cam's to get a front row seat of all the action:
So here is my list in alphabetical order of the 12 best Massachusetts ski areas and all the essential information you need for each:
Nicknamed the "Beast," Berkshire East is the largest of the Massachusetts ski areas and is widely known for its strong racing program hosting everyone from high school champions to the United States Ski Team. It does, however, provide plenty of trail options for both the beginner and experienced. One of the nicer options for the "ski challenged" individuals like myself is the snow tubing slope serviced by a 'magic carpet' surface lift.' Really, who wants to walk back up a hill? Not me!
Neat Fact: In the warmer months, Berkshire East has recently started a zip line canopy tour program letting patrons 'fly' through the Deerfield River Valley below. It is also very near to the one-of-a-kind Bridge of Flowers located in Shelburne Falls; an abandoned trolley bridge turned floral masterpiece.
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Berkshire East Essentials
Blandford Ski Area is located straight west of Springfield off I-90. A family ski area, they offer trails for all abilities and skiing experience levels. Lessons are also provided for both skiers and snowboarders. Owned and operated by the Springfield Ski Club, Blandford is one of the medium sized Massachusetts ski areas comprised of 3 terrain parks. They offer night skiing and get enough snow (65-75 inches/year) that they don't have to create it all themselves.
Neat Fact: Blandford Ski Area has been teaching skiers since 1936 and have celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2009/2010.
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Blandford Essentials
Blue Hills Ski Area is one of the smaller Massachusetts ski areas, appropriately named after after the Great Blue Hill in Canton that it is found on. Although smaller, I find it as having a more intimate feeling reminding me of the smallish hills we used to sled down when I was younger, as opposed to the ski areas on larger mountains found in the western part of Massachusetts. Definitely a great place to learn how to ski with the whole family.
Neat Fact: Only a 20 minute drive to Boston, Blue Hills is owned by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation but has been leased to a variety of operators since the 1960's. Great Blue Hill, at 635 ft above sea level, it the highest point along the Atlantic Ocean coastline south of Maine.
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Blue Hills Essentials
Located in the western part of the state, Bousquet is home to the largest city in the Berkshires - Pittsfield. Bousquet is one of the oldest Massachusetts ski areas, teaching kids of all ages the basics at Bousquet's Ski School since 1935.
Skiing at Bousquet is a feast for the eyes with the scenic Berkshire Mountains all around you and being so close to a small lively city means you're not totally cut off from civilization if you're planning an extended trip.
Neat Fact: Bousquet Ski Area started as a mink farm owned by Clarence J. "Clare" Bousquet in the early 1930's. With the Great Depression causing him to go bankrupt, Clare responded to the increasing interest from the Mount Greylock Ski Club to turn his land into a successful and profitable ski area. He was also the inventor of the rope tow gripper, protecting the arms and hands of skiers using the rope tow lifts.
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Bousquet Essentials
Just north of Boston and minutes from the North Shore, Bradford Ski Area runs its lifts 80 hours a week and with 100% snowmaking, it can pretty much accommodate whenever you feel the need to hit the slopes. Although Bradford may not have the tallest vertical of the Massachusetts ski areas, it does provide consistent snow conditions and offers a wide range of services for all budgets, schedules, age groups and ability levels.
Neat Fact: Started in 1948, Bradford has come a long way since the beginning and now has the capacity of 9600 skiers per hour with 8 active lifts.
Photo courtesy of mjsawyer
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Bradford Essentials
Also known as Butternut Basin by locals and Ski Butternut officially, Butternut is large compared to the other Massachusetts ski areas and specializes in families with intermediate sloped terrain but has plenty of trails for beginners as well. With a close proximity to the center of Great Barrington and all of the lodging and dining accommodations in the surrounding area (over 40), Butternut is made for extended vacations.
Some of the other great things Ski Butternut has to offer are its daycare facilities, ski school, kid programs, fully stocked ski and snowboard shop (voted best in New England), ski & stay specials, and even wedding & banquet accommodations for that special day.
Neat Fact: Originally called Warner Mountain Ski Area, and then G bar S Ranch, Butternut Basin was given its name from the large groves of butternut trees located at the basin of the mountain. In the off season, Ski Butternut is the location for the annual Berkshires Arts Festival.
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Butternut Essentials
Hovering right at the border of New York and Massachusetts, Catamount Ski Area is in the perfect
location for skiers from New York City, Albany, Hartford and of course anywhere else east in Massachusetts. One of the larger Massachusetts ski areas, Catamount has a nice vertical drop of 1,000 feet providing plenty of ski space and trails mostly characterized as being wide and long. With over 7 green circle trails, Catamount is a leader
Catamount provides plenty of night time skiing and offers some great specials: $20 daytime lift tickets and if you buy a private lesson on the $20 days, your lift ticket is free!
Neat Fact: Catamount Ski Area is one of the oldest in the northeastern United States. On December 7, 1941, an article appeared in the New York Times newspaper exclaiming a lovely new ski area in the Berkshires. Unfortunately on the same day, tragic news came about of the bombing at Pearl Harbor. With the United States at war, Catamount Ski Area was closed until the 1946-47 winter season.
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Catamount Essentials
Simply put, Jiminy Peak is a vacation destination. Being one of the largest Massachusetts Ski Areas Jiminy Peak is committed to treating their visitors to the luxury resort experience. Located right at the mountain base is an all-suite Country Inn hotel so no need to get back in the car and drive to the mountain; once you're there, you're there.
Everything you could possibly need for an extended stay with the family is here: A children's center, rental and repair building, a general store, wedding accommodations, a snow sports school, coin lockers, 2 on site hotel/resorts, and even a tavern to wind down after a long day on the slopes. In the summer months, Jiminy Peak also offers activities at its Mountain Adventure Park like an alpine super slide, mountain coaster, fishing, hiking, miniature golf, and mountain biking.
But let's not forget the main attraction. There's enough trails to satisfy both the beginner and the expert and with a vertical of 1,150 ft, 8 lifts, night skiing and almost 100% snowmaking, it's a skiers dream come true.
Neat Fact: Jiminy Peak is committed to being a 'green' resort. In August 2007, Jiminy implemented a 1.5 MegaWatt wind turbine (Zephyr). It produces enough power to offset its electrical demands by 33% annually.
Photo courtesy of pilotgirl
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Jiminy Peak Essentials
Nashoba Valley Ski Area is only 45 minutes from Boston and right off exit 31/32 from I-495 so hitting the slopes after a long work week in the city doesn't require a lengthy road trip. What Nashoba lacks in vertical feet and its amount of ski-able trails like the bigger ski areas in western Massachusetts, it makes up for in its first class ski and snowboard teaching program. With about 250 teaching professionals and lessons for all age groups and experience levels, there's always some sort of lesson going on.
Nashoba Valley also offers snow tubing terrain with 16 runs serviced by 4 handle tows.
Neat Fact: Pam Fletcher, who became a 1988 Olympian and a 10-year U.S. Ski Team veteran, learned to ski at Nashoba Valley Ski Area.
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Nashoba Valley Essentials
Otis Ridge is one of the smaller Massachusetts ski areas and is located off exit 2 of I-90. There's a full range of family friendly services and facilities like the quaint and relaxing 'Grouse House' with the Bed and Breakfast type feel but the pinnacle of Otis Ridge is it's kid oriented ski camp.
The Otis Ridge Ski Camp, for boys and girls aged 8 to 15 and all ability levels, is instructed by a group of experts that act more like camp counselors; the campers themselves are lodged in the rustic dormitories. Some of the other great activities for the kids involved in the ski camp are night hikes, ski movies, ping pong tournaments and marshmallow roasts but above all is to have fun while making lasting friendships.
The thing I like best about Otis Ridge is its sense of peacefulness, privacy, and most important is that feeling of getting away from it all.
Neat Fact: Although Otis Ridge Ski Area is relatively remote and situated right on the edge of Otis State Forest, it's just minutes away from the Prime Outlets in Lee. There's tons of shopping to do here at all of the outlet stores and the stores are open until 9pm on most days.
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Otis Ridge Essentials
Ski Area is smaller ski area conveniently located just east of the major city of Worcester and a short drive off 290, the highway that circles the city. There is something for everyone here:
Make sure to check out the Hotel Search below to find the best prices for area hotels!
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Ski Ward Essentials
Wachusett Mountain Ski Area is one of the larger Massachusetts ski areas and the mountain itself is the highest point in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River at 2,006 feet. Only 90 minutes west of Boston and 30 minutes north of Worcester, Wachusett is fairly convenient to get to but also provides spectacular views at the summit of the surrounding State Reservation and on clear days, the ability to see Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire to the north and the city of Boston to the east.
There are enough trails across the spectrum to satisfy all ability levels and at the end of the day skiers can head to the base complex offering the Black Diamond Restaurant, Mountain Treats, Wachusett Food Court, Waffle Haus, Balance Rock Coffee Company, and the Coppertop Lounge. If you want to ski into the night, you can do that too as the ski area is open until 10 pm.
The resort part of Wachusett Ski Area at the base of the mountain is the Wachusett Village Inn offering a restaurant, cafe, lounge, health club and fun sleigh rides. Be sure to check below in the hotel search for the best prices!
Neat Fact: During World War II, the 10th Mountain Division trained at Wachusett and a plaque can be found at the summit commemorating this.
Photo courtesy of paradigm10
Massachusetts Ski Areas - Wachusett Mountain Essentials
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