A November 1993 trip
to Stowe by cr008k
Quote: Continuing on the Comparisons of Ski Resorts.
When I was growing up we went on many many ski trips and so I have a lot of experience comparing the different resorts. I greatly enjoyed Stowe - it was probably my favorite skiing in Vermont, and I also preferred it to Big Sky; although it did not compare to Vail or Colorado.
I'll begin at the beginning - the skiing. First of all, Stowe is famous for four particular mountains - called The Front Four. These are for novice to expert skiers and consist of 4 separate large mountains, each of which have many many trials. The four mountains are Starr, Goat, National, and Lift Line. Starr and Goat were my two favorite - they had a nice mix of mid-level to expert trials and the ski lift lines were not long. They have many modern high speed double and triple ski lifts so there's little waiting and you get up the mountain fast (this is true of all 4 mountains). The trails are clearly marked so you know what you are getting and where you are going before you get to the top of the mountain and are surprised to find yourself on a black diamond.
If you are a beginner skiing then you want to stay on Spruce Peak. This is one of the best mountains I have seen for beginner skiers outside of Colorado. There is a wide selection of trails, none of which are too difficult for a beginning skier- so you don't just get bored going down the same bunny hill over and over. The scenery is pretty here as well on the beginner mountain - you even get to see some lush trees and such, which often you don't at ski resorts because the beginner mountain is usually the closest to the lodge and the farthest away from anything pretty. There are lessons offered here as well at different levels, and you can sign up for ski race programs too, which can be fun and can help get kids interested in skiing if they are good enough to race, and they can even earn a medal.
Skiing is pretty much all you do here, there is a small downtown of restaurants and shops that's cute, but not too exciting and not as nice as downtown Vail or Steamboat or Denver. There is, however, also the option of snowboarding or cross country skiing.
They have the longest average trial in New England and a wider selection of choices of many other ski resorts around Vermont and Big Sky, so this is some of the most exciting skiing you will get outside of Colorado - come prepared to do some good skiing and to get on the mountain early so you can beat the possible wintertime crowds.They also offer a night ski and ride which if you are good enough to ski at even a moderate level I highly recommend you try. It is a really great once in a lifetime experience to go out at night, on a well light mountain and ski under the moon - it really makes you feel at one with nature, and like you are having a great adventure.
They offer private coaching, which is a bit more expensive, but you can also get special group lessons for kids or adult or women that are geared to your ski level. I recommend you try this - especially if you aren't an expert skier. They had great tips on skiing and also on keeping your skis well waxed so you can really take advantage of the great powdery snow that they had there.
You can also arrange a mountain tour with your hotel which can be kind of cool, especially if you are a non-skier or if you want to take a break from skiing and just get to see the scenery and sites. You can also see the scenery by cross country skiing, which can be fun but which can also get boring very quickly because a lot of the scenery (rich wooded evergreen trees) gets repetitive and then you are just walking along on snowshoes getting tired.
The main way to get around is on the ski lifts that take you to the top of the mountain. They have mostly double and triple ski lifts (two to three people on a chair) but they do have one four person lift; and even 1 eight person gondola so you can get to the top of the mountain fast. If you get out early you shouldn't have a wait. You also should not need a car if you stay right at the resort - you'll be close enough to get up and walk out of your hotel room to the ski lodge to get something delicious, warm and hardy to eat. From there you can just walk over to the ski lift and that and your skis are the ride from there.
If you must rent a car be prepared to drive on snowy and icy roads. There is not really public transportation, but you can take taxis or hotel shuttles.
San Francisco, California