I’ve been wanting to visit Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont for several years.
Maybe it’s because I know a lot of families who love skiing Okemo and make a point to return every year.
Or maybe it’s because the people I know who ski Okemo (and I seem to know a lot of them!) are good people.
The reason doesn’t really matter. The result does.
Blue Skies, Bright Sun, Good Friends, Close Family
In early January, my son, husband and I skied Okemo on what could arguably be a contender for the most beautiful winter day in 2018.
Conveniently ensconced in a massively roomy condo at the Jackson Gore Lodge, we awakened to moderate temperatures and a brilliant, clear sky.
Our day got off to a bang. Staying so close to the lifts, we claimed our skis from the hotel at 8:30 a.m. and were ready to ski when the lifts opened at 9:00 a.m.
When we decided to visit Vermont this winter, we invited nearby family and friends to join us at any of the resorts we’d be visiting.
By the time we arrived at Okemo, our party of three had grown to a party of ten, a fantastic mixture of friends and family.
Because skiing with ten people is unwieldy, we split up, knowing that on a mountain of Okemo’s size, we could easily meet up, and mix it up, throughout the day.
Too Much to Ski In Just One Day
Okemo doesn’t sound like an exceptionally large ski resort, with 667 skiable acres and a vertical drop of 2,200’, the highest in Southern Vermont (Okemo also has 98% snowmaking coverage, the most in Vermont).
Spread across five mountains, including 3,344’ Okemo Mountain and 2,725’ Jackson Gore Peak, Okemo has an astounding number of trails and glades — 121, to be exact — for a total of 46 miles of skiing and riding.
The runs at Okemo are almost evenly divided between easier (green), more difficult (blue) and most difficult (black).
Beginner terrain is found at both the Clock Tower base and the Jackson Gore base, as well as higher on the mountain, including some long meanders from the top of the Sunburst Six Heated Bubble Express lift and the South Face Express lift.
Mostly though, what you’ll find outside of the base areas at Okemo are countless combinations and variations, a mixture of intermediate and advanced groomed runs, interspersed with moguls and glades.
Recommended Runs at Okemo
We skied a full day at Okemo, pretty much bell-to-bell. Enthralled by the gorgeous day, the stunning views, the fantastic snow and the excellent company, I quickly lost track of the runs we were skiing.
So, I’ve turned to more experienced family friends and locals, who know Okemo better than we do, for recommendations.
Wendy Clinch, the founder of TheSkiDiva.com, is a Ludlow local who has logged hundreds of days skiing Okemo. Her favorites include Defiance, Timberline, Nor’easter and Stump Jumper for nice pitches and fun rollers on fast “groomer zoomers.”
For “baby bumps,” Wendy recommends the lower part of Timberline, which is often left ungroomed. She also suggests Rolling Thunder and Eclipse in Jackson Gore. Her pro tip: ski Big Bang/Eclipse, with moguls at the top, a mellower middle section, followed by moguls again at the bottom.
Peter Hines, a photographer from upstate New York, prefers World Cup (both the Upper and Lower portions), a long black to blue run from the top to the bottom of the Sunburst Six lift.
Other friends, like Richard, a father of two young skiers who vacationed over the holidays at Okemo, spoke highly of the intermediate terrain under the Solitude Express Quad.
As he explains, the runs on this part of the mountain “had nice carving sections and some good drops that kept it interesting. The pitch varied at points and wasn’t just steady blue from top to bottom.”
His go-to suggestions? Heaven’s Gate to Screamin’ Demon and Sidewinder.
As for our friend Bob, and all of our extended family, we were all in agreement that Double Diamond, a double black mogul and glade run accessed from the South Face Express Quad, was our favorite. For me, it stood out in contrast to the groomers, offering more “natural” challenges and being a lovely change of pace.
Why Families Love Okemo
Last week, after posting some photos on Facebook, Audrey, a ski mom from Connecticut provided me with this answer, when I asked her, “Why Okemo?”
“What’s not to love,” she wrote. “Okemo is the most family-friendly mountain we’ve skied, in every aspect.The terrain is so varied that we have enjoyed exploring the entire resort, advancing a bit more every year, with Okemo having ample room to try out our new skills, speed and interests.
“The runs are always well-groomed, lift lines typically move along, the lodge is spacious and well-designed so that there is always room, even when crowded, and we love the bubble chairs on super cold days.”
Most importantly, Audrey gives a big shout out to Okemo’s ski patrol and ambassadors for their caring and friendliness.
If you haven’t been to Okemo, this is a good video showing many aspects of the resort. It’s just two minutes.
When You Go…
To a person, our friends and family suggest staying at the Jackson Gore base area. The Jackson Gore Inn has condo units that are enormous and make life with a busy family easier.
During the holidays, Richard reported that the hotel lobby was a vibrant place to hang out and relax. Of note, he highly recommends the Okemo Boulevard cocktail.
Richard also rates the Okemo Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster as a “don’t miss” family activity. The Timber Ripper is located at the Jackson Gore base, as is the tubing hill, ice skating rink, a very large hotel pool and numerous hot tubs.
Money Saving Tips
Okemo is on the MAX Pass. If you don’t know the MAX Pass, you should. It’s a multi-mountain ski pass that provides five days at each of 44 ski resorts in the U.S. and Canada. In Vermont alone, the MAX Pass covers Okemo, Killington, Pico Mountain and Stratton. A list of all MAX Pass ski resorts can be found here.
Another idea is to ski midweek at Okemo. Book a Ski & Stay package at an Okemo Mountain Resort-managed property for at least two nights, Sunday – Thursday and save up to 50% on lodging, along with additional savings on lift tickets, lessons, rentals, spa services, day care, dining, activities and more.
Midweek, your family will also have Okemo to yourselves!
So, round-up your friends and family. Take the kids out of school. And go ski Okemo.
© 2018, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.