Choosing which ski areas to highlight in the East is nearly impossible, with an endless array of great mountains and quaint ski towns.
The East has produced notorious skiers like Bode Miller and snowboarders like Seth Wescott, raised on carving fast turns in hard powder. Some Colorado powder hounds may complain of the East's notorious ice, but with an increasing amount of snow guns, the snow out East is more reliable and longer lasting than ever. Mountains like Sunday River in Maine and Killington in Vermont were even able to open in late October, due to a combination of blasting snow guns and early storms.
East Coast ski resorts will typically open by Thanksgiving and stay open as late as they can, usually into mid-April when the slopes get warm and slushy.
Without further ado, here's a look at the beasts of the East:
Mont Tremblant, Quebec
This charming ski town is at the base of the highest peak in the Laurentian Mountains. There are 95 trails and 14 lifts, two of which are gondolas to warm up in. There's also more than 30 acres of park, but those looking to go in need a separate Adrenaline Park pass. The mountain boasts a varied terrain for the whole family.
Best Feature: First Tracks allows you to board the Express gondola at 7:45 am and ski or board at 8 a.m. on the designated slopes of the north side Let those skis unleash over fresh corduroy and powder without the stop and go of skiing in crowds.
2011- 2012 Ski Season: Approx. Nov. 24, 2011- April 9, 2012
Getting There: Located just 90 minutes from Montreal-Tredeau International and 22 miles from Mont Tremblant International Airport makes getting in and out of this ski resort a breeze. If traveling into Mount Tremblant Airport, just take the short VIP shuttle directly to participating hotels. For those flying into Montreal, either rent a car from the airport or take the Mont-Tremblant Express, which departs from the airport four times a day.
The snow here is so good, this resort trademarked the line the most dependable snow in New England. Here, the aggressive snowmaking has already started. When the mountain is up and running at full strength, there's 743 acres of trails and backcountry skiing, 133 trails, and 16 lifts spread over eight peaks. Each peak has its own personality and traits from the family-friendly North Peak to Oz's double black diamond. Located in Bethel Maine, this town's got that quintessential small town New England feel. The mountain has even added a new zip line that's open throughout the year and great for a family vacation.
Best Feature: The snowmaking and grooming here are top of the line. This mountain's got the most advanced snowmaking system on the East, which means it easily bounces back from snowless or rainy weeks.
2011- 2012 Ski Season: Oct. 29 until as late in the spring as the mountain can go
Getting There: Having or renting a car is necessary for a trip to Sunday River. The closest airport is the Portland International Jetport, about an hour and a half drive away from the mountain.
Rates and Additional Information: www.sundayriver.com
What the river has in peaks, Sugarloaf's got in vertical feet, 2,820 ft. to be exact. A top to bottom run on Tote Road is leg-burning perfection. The Loaf (as it's known) has 54 miles and 1,056 skiable acres for every ability level. The mountain also has a spring Reggae Fest, which attracts almost 12,000 people each year.
Best Feature: Seven times X-Game medalist and two-time Olympic champion Seth Wescott designed the snowboard-cross and skier-cross in the terrain park. That's just part of the park; there are three terrain parks as well as a super-pipe and mini-pipe. Wescott also co-owns a good local restaurant near the base called The Rack.
2011- 2012 Ski Season: Nov. 18 to TBD
Getting There: Once again, with the remote beauty of Maine's mountains comes the necessity of a vehicle. Getting to the mountain from Portland International Jetport will take a little over two and a half hours. Once at the resort, a vehicle isn't necessary as shuttles drive around.
Rates and Additional Information: www.sugarloaf.com
Located in the White Mountains, Attitash has long been a family favorite and it's recently received a major face lift. Many were unsure of the Midwesterners who bought the mountain two years ago, but the hesitancy subsided when an increased amount of snow guns appeared on the side of the mountain. Attitash has 307 skiable acres and 23 miles of trails. There's also more than seven diverse glades within the 30 acres of backcountry skiing on Bear Peak.
Best Feature: U Go Girl Race holds a series of three races for female competitors of all ages. Half of the proceeds benefit Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure, so sign up and raise awareness for breast cancer in this fun event. Male competitors are also allowed to race, but don't place.
2011- 2012 Ski Season: Nov. 22- April
Getting There: Attitash is located less than two hours from both Manchester and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It's also just two and a half hours from Boston, MA.
Rates and Additional Information: www. attitash.com/
Like Attitash, Loon is also located in New Hampshire's White Mountains, which means stunning views from the top. Loon Mountain boasts 61 trails, 12 lifts, and an annual snowfall of 200 inches. Loon is a great fit for an intermediate skier looking for long trails winding their way down the mountain. With a growing reputation, Loon keeps the crowds coming. Intermediate and advanced skiers should stick to the North and newly added South Peaks to avoid congestion.
Best Feature: Loon's biggest perks are for families. There's a great kid-friendly ski and snowboard school, day and night tubing, and an adventure center for off the slope fun. Those just learning to ski and young children can also buy a pass just for the small beginner hill.
2011- 2012 Ski Season: Nov. 19- TBD
Getting There: Loon is located just two hours from Logan International Airport in Boston and an hour and a half from Manchester, New Hampshire's airport. The drive is also one of the most beautiful along the Kancamagus Highway and river.
Rates and Additional Information: http://www.loonmtn.com/
Stowe Mountain Resort has definitely upped its game for the 2011-2012 season with many new upgrades, including two high-speed quads, beginner area, and luxury slope-side hotel. The mountain has 116 trails covering 39 miles, 485 skiable acres, and 333 average inches of snow. It also claims to be the ski capital of the East. The only problem at Stowe is the price - a one day ticket in prime season will cost $88 for an adult. The best bet here is to get a season pass and use it often.
Best Feature: The resort town is one of the best in the East. The ski village feels both New England and European at the same time, with charming bed and breakfast inns and fine dining.
2011- 2012 Ski Season: Nov. 19- TBD
Getting There: Stowe is a pretty easy find, located just 40 minutes from Burlington International Airport.
Rates and Additional Information: www.stowe.com
Sugarbush is scattered between two mountains and 578 skiable acres. The mountain's biggest perk? The variety of terrain! The resort excels at catering to intermediate and advanced skiers with steep slopes that compete with the West, glades, and lots of natural terrain. Sugarbush also has the ever important classic ski town with Waitsfield in the Mad River Valley, complete with white-steeple churches. Get here quick before all the mega-hotels move in!
Best Feature: The mountain sells a budget-friendly pass for 20-somethings, unique to Sugarbush. This pass gives all between the ages of 19 and 29 a major break in an expensive industry.
2011- 2012 Ski Season: Lincoln Peak opens Nov.19 and Mt. Ellen opens Dec. 16 - April
Getting There: Click here for driving direction from several major hubs in New England.
Rates and Additional Information: http://www.sugarbush.com
Known as the beast of the east, Killington has enough terrain to keep a skier busy for a day and a life. Six peaks provide room for over 140 trails, 70 miles of terrain, and two high speed gondolas. This mountain has got something for everyone from the groomed cruisers to a mass of expert trails from the K-1 Gondola or Bear Mountain Quad.
Best Feature: This mountain ranked number one in the East in terms of night life by Ski Magazine, so it will be easy to find a slew of Après spots.
2011- 2012 Ski Season: Oct. 29- mid to late April
Getting There: Killington, located in central Vermont, has an express shuttle for those flying in from Logan International in Boston. Passengers can arrange pick up here.
Rates and Additional Information: www.killington.com
Whiteface Lake Placid
The mountains of New York are overlooked for the classic New England ski experience. Whiteface Mountain's got the best of both worlds with charming Lake Placid located just a few miles away. Others criticize New York for being icy and cold, but temperatures here are similar to that of neighboring Vermont. Only about a fourth of the skiers visit this mountain compared to its New England rivals - sorry for letting out the secret! Whiteface has 86 trails and the greatest vertical drop in the East.
Best Feature: Home to the 1980 Winter Olympics, the area's got plenty of blood-pumping activities, including bobsledding and ski jumps.
2011- 2012 Ski Season: Nov. 25- April 15
Getting There: Skiers and snowboarders will have a breeze getting to this mountain, located two hours from airports in Albany, Burlington, and Montreal. Those coming from New York City can take the Adirondack Trailways bus or Amtrak train to the Adirondack Mountains.
Rates and Additional Information: www.whiteface.com