Vermont skiing with kids: Okemo Mountain Resort

For families itching to spend a weekend skiing in Vermont, but dreading a long car ride, Okemo Mountain Resort is the answer! It’s located only about an hour into Vermont, making it one of the state’s most accessible resorts.

okemo-mountain-resort

But don’t let its southern location fool you—it’s a big mountain with a lot of varied terrain. There’s plenty to keep the kids busy, while letting the more experienced skiers in your group try out some moguls and glade runs. Read Okemo Mountain reviews, however, and you’ll find one of the highlights of the mountain: the Sunburst Six chairlift with a bubble cover and heated seats. We could have ridden that chair all day!

Jackson-Gore Inn

The facilities at Okemo are spit into two main areas—the Clock Tower Base Area, and the Jackson Gore Base Area. Both areas offer lodging, food, lift tickets, and lessons. We stayed at the Jackson Gore Inn, and found all we needed right at our doorstep. From our one-bedroom suite in Adams House, we could ski in/ski out, or walk a few steps to the Jackson Gore center that offers a variety of restaurants, ski rentals, children’s programs, and an indoor/outdoor pool. Once we parked in the indoor, heated garage (a HUGE perk on a cold weekend!) we didn’t pile back in our car until it was time to leave on Sunday afternoon.

jackson-gore

Our suite at Jackson Gore was a one-bedroom apartment with a full kitchen, two bathrooms, a pull-out couch in the living room, and a cozy fireplace. All facilities are updated and in great condition. Skis can be left in lockers downstairs, checked at the main building of the Jackson Gore Inn, or left slopeside, making it that much easier to get two kids dressed and out the door in time for a full day on the slopes. The location of the Jackson Gore Inn (and the affiliated houses—Adams House and Bixby House) is unbeatable. It’s located directly on the mountain, and right next to the snow tubing and Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster. In addition to the indoor/outdoor pool located at the Jackson Gore base area, each house also has it own slopeside hot tubs, just for guests. Definitely worth a visit after a long day skiing!

The Mountain:

okemo

So, the lodging and amenities are great, but how is the skiing? When my family visited, we found great coverage, most trails open (even glade runs), and very reasonable lift lines. While most of the mountain is accessible to beginners and intermediate skiers, my kids (4 and 6) found their favorite beginner runs on the Sunburst Six chair (or maybe they just loved warming up on the heated seats!). The one problem with taking beginners so far up the mountain (as opposed to staying on the beginner chairs at either base area) is that eventually you ended up on the Mountain Road trail, which could get crowded and crossed a lot of busy trails. This trail is the main route to traverse from the Jackson Gore area over to Okemo Mountain, and it can get a little hectic, especially for beginners who can’t always stop on a dime. When we were skiing without the kids, though, we found some great expert terrain on the South Face Express, and the Jackson Gore Express. Because Okemo is so spread out horizontally (as opposed to vertically), it’s fun to explore across the mountain where you’ll inevitably find an uncrowded pocket of mountain with great trails.

Snow Stars Ski Program:

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Our kids, aged 6 and 4, were delighted to discover that they would be in the same group for their all-day lesson at Okemo. They were both in the Snow Stars program, and because they have similar abilities (but mostly for the benefit of our four year old!) they were able to be in the same group. At Okemo, you have 6 different ability levels to choose from, depending on your child’s experience and skill level. They range from red—first time on the mountain, to black—skiing confidently on steep terrain, glades, etc. While the more experienced kids have the run of the mountain, the beginners have a large area at the Jackson Gore base with multiple magic carpets and a great beginner hill.

Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster:

The Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster is a great ride for all the members of your family. We’ve been to a few mountain coasters, and always have a great time. It’s one of the few “roller coaster” type rides that little ones can do (you only need to be 36” to be a passenger), but it’s still exciting enough to be fun for the big kids (or grownups) in your group. Because each ride is charged individually ($13 for the driver, $9 for an extra passenger), it’s probably worthwhile to get an Adventure Zone wrist band (available in the summer, $55) and try out all of the activities—including a climbing wall, bungee trampoline, and more!

Snow Tubing:

okemo-tubing

We thought that the snow tubing was one of the most fun activities off the slopes—it’s a bargain, too, at only $13 for an hour of tubing. Sledders ride up the magic carpet with their tubes, and go for unlimited rides. Trust me, you can get a LOT of rides in within an hour! The sleds are great too—comfy enough for kids, super safe, and FAST! We definitely recommend tubing any time; it’s a great break for the kids after a long day on the slopes.

Directions:

Okemo is located in Ludlow, Vermont, at 77 Okemo Ridge Road. Take I-91 to access from MA.

Disclosure: Our family experienced Okemo as guests of the resort, for the purpose of review. All opinions remain our own.

About the author

Kate Lepore AUTHOR: Kate Lepore is Pit Stops for Kids' east coast editor and a mother of two preschool-aged children. Kate makes her home in Western Massachusetts when not traveling. Find Kate at Google.

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