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Mt. Snow or Okemo?? Driving time and crowds my main criteria

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I'm planning on 3 days/2 nights skiing during the President's day Week (Not the weekend, but (Tue/Wed/Thursday). I'd greatly appreciate thoughts on how bad- or manageable- crowds at Mt. Snow and Okemo are during these peak periods (I know: it's all relative),, and also: how long does it Really take to drive to Okemo from Manhattan? I'm seeing anywhere from slightly over 4 hours to a solid 5 hours. That's a big difference when I'm only going to be there for a couple days. Thanks to any and all for your attention!

post #2 of 24

I've always thought that Okemo has a somewhat better layout for handling big crowds as not everything funnels back into the same base area.  At Mt. Snow, everything either drops you to the main base area or to the North Face (well, not everything, but almost everything).  Okemo is spread out over a wider area so it was (usually) possible to find a lift that wasn't as crowded.

 

I haven't skied either of them during President's Week though.

post #3 of 24

Hmm, coming from Manhattan I think Okemo should be about 4 hours as long as you go at a low traffic time.  I live an hour east of the city in CT an it takes me 3 hours.  Made it in 2:45 a few times.

 

Okemo is fairly crowded that week. It is manageable though, especially if you avoid the base area altogether by parking, starting and finishing at Jackson Gore and don't go all the way to the bottom for lunch either.  One more thing, there is always a traffic jam getting through Ludlow in the afternoon when the mountain closes and everyone is leaving at the same time.

post #4 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by lookingforinput View Post
 

I'm planning on 3 days/2 nights skiing during the President's day Week (Not the weekend, but (Tue/Wed/Thursday). I'd greatly appreciate thoughts on how bad- or manageable- crowds at Mt. Snow and Okemo are during these peak periods (I know: it's all relative),, and also: how long does it Really take to drive to Okemo from Manhattan? I'm seeing anywhere from slightly over 4 hours to a solid 5 hours. That's a big difference when I'm only going to be there for a couple days. Thanks to any and all for your attention!

 

How long does it take to drive from lower Manhattan to 168th street?- depends

How long does it take to drive from "Manhattan" to say New Rochelle or White Plains? - depends. Could be 1 1/2 hrs!

You are looking at 3 1/2 hours from the start of CT. That's assuming highway speeds. Traffic has gotten bad so that figure is a big maybe.

It's reliably 1 1/2 hrs from Northampton, MA on I-91. That's about the most accurate statement one can make since getting to that point can have large problems.

 

Assuming you don't get stuck in the bridge repair going on now around exit 3 in VT. Coming back can be bad during crowded times. Get off at ex 4 and take rte 5 south if you sense heavy traffic. After 4 you are stuck. Got stuck MLK day.

 

5hrs is about right from Mahnattan.

 

There is no difference in that scenario between anywhere you're going in VT.

Stratton, Mt Snow aren't much quicker to get to because of the back roads you have to take. I think it may actually be quicker to get to Okemo than Stratton. Okemo is 20 miles from I-91 exit 6.

 

I've had people tell me they drive to Okemo from Queens going the following route to avoid 15 or 95 in CT:

Rte 22 north (not even 684!),  to 44  to Rte 7 North through Great Barrington, MA and Bennigton, VT then 11 and 100 north to Okemo. Claims 4hrs reliable because no traffic of highways. If you go that route, it's scenic and you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. 5 to 6 hrs.

 

Honestly, it can be quicker or at least not longer from North Jersey. They go through Troy, NY and over through Bennington, VT.

 

As far as crowds President's week they are not that bad at Okemo. A lot of kids.

Depends where you ski on Mt Snow. The front area coming down to the base is a rats nest of intersections.

If you want no crowds, go to Magic. If you want a shorter drive go to Belleayre, Windham, Plattekill, or Hunter.


Edited by Tog - 1/28/14 at 7:03am
post #5 of 24

I'd do a little bit of research about when schools have their winter break.  I've gathered that the entire state of Maine public schools take that week off, so it's a bad week to ski Maine.  I'm going to Sugarloaf the following week, so I scoped out the likely crowd scenario.

 

I don't know about VT or surrounding areas.

 

My own $.02 from having spent exactly one day at each of Okemo and Mt Snow is that Okemo is by far the more interesting mountain; Mt Snow may be the most featureless ski hill anywhere. So given the choice I'd opt for Okemo unless I had some really good intelligence about the crowds. 

post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post
 

I'd do a little bit of research about when schools have their winter break.  I've gathered that the entire state of Maine public schools take that week off, so it's a bad week to ski Maine.  I'm going to Sugarloaf the following week, so I scoped out the likely crowd scenario.

 

I don't know about VT or surrounding areas.

 

My own $.02 from having spent exactly one day at each of Okemo and Mt Snow is that Okemo is by far the more interesting mountain; Mt Snow may be the most featureless ski hill anywhere. So given the choice I'd opt for Okemo unless I had some really good intelligence about the crowds. 

That's an interesting take. I think you missed some stuff at Mt. Snow maybe.

There are a few schools in CT in Fairfield County that do not have the whole week off this year. Parent's have complained and it's already changed for next year.

The crowds Pres week are not that bad at Okemo at least if you know how to deal with them.

Do not eat lunch at the base lodge. Avoid going down to the bottom at all actually because the lifts slow down as people have trouble getting on.

Stagger when you eat. Do not eat at noon!

Ski school is 10-12 and 1:30-3:30. The all days eat say 12:00 to 1:00 mostly. Race kids stop at 11am for lunch.

So snack at say 11:30 or 11 then eat at 1:30. Eat at Sugar House or up top or Jackson Gore (crowded like base lodge) or even now at South Face Barbeque. (there's a little room outside next to the lift)

If you don't mind the time, 1hr to 1 1/2 or expense, eat at Epic at Solitude. It will be relatively calm.

post #7 of 24
Quote:

 

My own $.02 from having spent exactly one day at each of Okemo and Mt Snow is that Okemo is by far the more interesting mountain; Mt Snow may be the most featureless ski hill anywhere. So given the choice I'd opt for Okemo unless I had some really good intelligence about the crowds. 

I'd have to say I also think you may have missed something.  There is more steep at Mt. Snow (North Face) and -- when there is snow -- you can ski the trees.  But, each to his/her own.

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 

I will be leaving the city (upper w. side, via W. Side Highway) at a low-traffic day/time: President's Day, about 10am/11am; and will aim to do the same (low-traffic departure time, either post-rush in evening or mid-morning) on the way back, so aside from uncontrollables- accidents, weather, bridge construction (thanks for the heads up!), I'm not worried about the first part of the trip, which as you accurately note, can vary Widely depending on day, time of day, etc.

post #9 of 24

Driving time all depends on traffic.  It can be done in 4 hours or less if the roads are empty, but it's taken me more than 5 if the roads are bad.  But coming from Manhattan, you're going to hit traffic no matter where you go, pretty much.  Just try to leave as early as possible, and take a dinner break when the traffic is bad!  

 

My personal choice would be Okemo over Mount Snow.  I think they keep the mountain in better shape, there's a really solid amount of varied terrain (especially since the opening of Jackson Gore), and like others have said, it's pretty spread out.  My suggestion would be to ski the south face, solitude, and jackson gore in the morning and afternoon, and head over to the Northstar during lunch hours.  The Northstar lines at peak hours are some of the worst I've waited on because everyone is over there, leaving the other parts of the mountain a bit emptier.  

 

If crowds get you down, southern vermont skiing is not for you, you may even need a pill or something to take the edge off.  But in all seriousness, you have to go into this trip KNOWING that there will be crowds EVERYWHERE, Okemo or Mount Snow or Killington or Stratton, even if you go further north to Stowe or Sugarbush.  Just think of lift lines as a time to spend some extra time with your family or friends that you might not ordinarily have skiing, think of some good conversation topics, and just enjoy being on the mountain!  And plan accordingly, i.e. get out there early, strategically pick which peaks you ski, take a hot chocolate break at 10:30/11, ski through lunch, grab a bite after the lunch rush is over, and then get a few runs in before the lifts close.  All in all, you'll get some runs in and have a good time, so don't sweat it too much.  It's skiing, after all.

post #10 of 24
What type of skiing are you looking for?
I actually find Mt Snow more diverse in terms of terrain but I don't ski there much and I ski the O all the time.
If there's been snow and you like steeps and or trees I would highly recommend Magic. It's a time warp from the 80's. You want no crowds go there at least for a day. It cant be a low snow situation though. For that Okemo.

If you do Okemo then your last day just drive down 100 to 11 and take a left to Magic You'll be a bit closer to home. (that may be debatable but it's very close either way).

Btw, there is a short cut Okemo to Mt snow and vice versa. Saves a little. Can't remember off hand though.
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by lookingforinput View Post
 

I will be leaving the city (upper w. side, via W. Side Highway) at a low-traffic day/time: President's Day, about 10am/11am; and will aim to do the same (low-traffic departure time, either post-rush in evening or mid-morning) on the way back, so aside from uncontrollables- accidents, weather, bridge construction (thanks for the heads up!), I'm not worried about the first part of the trip, which as you accurately note, can vary Widely depending on day, time of day, etc.


If you have not made a decision I would suggest you look at Gore. It is simple to get to - figure a little over 3 hours from Mahwah, NJ. It is highway except for the last 20 miles. I get to Gore 45-60 minutes less time than Mt Snow or Stratton. It will not be crowded. I have been there on holidays when cars are parked down the access road and there are no lift lines and the trails are not crowded. The terrain is way different than Mt Snow and Okemo, although there are plenty of cruisers if that is what you like.

 

I would choose Mt Snow over Okemo as it is closer. I happen to like the terrain at Mt Snow also, but that is just my opinion. From north NJ Mt Snow is way less time vs Okemo. I woud go to Stratton before Okemo, as it is closer and also has better terrain than Okemo IMHO.

 

You might not have bad crowds. My daughter only has Mon and Tues off during President's week. Only a few years ago they had the whole week off. I think this is a growing trend in NJ.

post #12 of 24
I agree with Gore.
Stratton is not closer by any meaningful amount if at all. Okemo is one hour from Brattleboro. What's Stratton? 45min if you don't get stuck behind someone for 30 miles? Which always happens.
Edit: if one comes up NY state and then rte 7 to Vt. Stratton is closer. The 91 corridor not the case.
post #13 of 24

I haven't skied Mt. Snow since the late 60's so I am sure lots of things have changed, however one thing that likely hasn't changed is that Mt. Snow is the closest Vermont mountain to both Boston and NYC. So back in the 60s Mt. Snow's uphill lift capacity was geared toward large weekend crowds, resulting in a lift over capacity and short lift lines mid week.

 

My recommendation is to compare lift capacity between resorts to try to determine how crowded it will be or more correctly how crowded it will seem and how long the lift lines will be.

post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post

 

 

My own $.02 from having spent exactly one day at each of Okemo and Mt Snow is that Okemo is by far the more interesting mountain; Mt Snow may be the most featureless ski hill anywhere. So given the choice I'd opt for Okemo unless I had some really good intelligence about the crowds. 

This would be quite incorrect.

 

Okemo is the skiing equivalent of white bread. Everything looks and skis the same, zero character, and you can take any trail as they are essentially identical.

 

Mt Snow isn't Chamonix, but at least there's some stuff on the North Face that's interesting, and great trees off to the left, as well as down lower. Thankfully there's also a place dedicated to park rats, so they don't really infect the rest of the hill.

 

Driving from Manhattan you should probably figure 5 hours, and if you're doing it in rush hour, well, just don't. I lived for a long time in FFLD CT, and from there 3 to 3.5 hours hours isn't unreasonable so you have an add on that. If you're going to make the effort anyway, I'd think you should look into Sugarbush, as it's somewhat past the point of the day trippers, and substantially better than either Mt. Snow, Nokemo and / or Flatton. In fact, if you put all those three together, I'd still take Sugarbush. Magic was mentioned too which is a GREAT hill, but it is essentially at the mercy of natural snow - if there's dump, it's fantastic, if not, it can be a "challenge":

post #15 of 24
I agree with snofun3 but want to add a couple things. We ski Killington every Presidents Day week - we have a timeshare for that week. Aside from the weekends, the crowds aren't bad, with Monday having more people than the rest of the week. But pretty much you can walk on to the K1 Gondola during the week with little / no line. If you like to ski steeps and bumps and trees there is some great terrain there as well - my favorite areas are around the Canyon Quad and Superstar - snow conditions allowing. In general though the further north you go the thinner the crowd.
post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 

Gore's a great idea - honestly, I was thinking it was a longer drive. My only concern there is snow - the base now is 11"-22" I guess they don't have much snowmaking?

post #17 of 24

I assume you have reasons other than the mountains themselves to have picked Okemo and Mt. Snow, perhaps the two least interesting "major" ski areas in Vermont!  This is not a "dis" per se, we all pick our ski areas based on numerous considerations (hotels, restaurants, etc do matter to many of us).  

post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 

yes, based on driving time for just 2 nights and then the crowds. What do you think of Gore as an alternative?

post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by lookingforinput View Post
 

Gore's a great idea - honestly, I was thinking it was a longer drive. My only concern there is snow - the base now is 11"-22" I guess they don't have much snowmaking?


Gore has 95% snowmaking and unlimited water from the Hudson River. They lack the pump capacity of the larger VT resorts and they are run by ORDA, a NYS authority. They also average about 30" less natural snow on an annual basis than the southern VT resorts. The only areas of Gore not open right now are the North Creek Ski Bowl area at the bottom of the area and the multitude of glades spread all over the mountain. 

 

Gore is a funky mountain unlike MtSnow/Stratton/Okemo. There are no slopeside beds. It is a very different experience vs the other 3 VT areas. You will not be disappointed.

post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks. We'll be heading to Gore. Can't wait!

post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by lookingforinput View Post
 

Thanks. We'll be heading to Gore. Can't wait!

Nice.

 

NY Ski Blog is a great source of information about Gore Mountain and NY State skiing.

http://nyskiblog.com/

 

Check out the forums for info and tips.

 

Here is the NYSkiBlog description of Gore:

http://directory.nyskiblog.com/Gore-Mountain-td4642438.html

post #22 of 24
Let us know how the Gore is!
I 've heard great things! Too bad there's not more snow for the trees but VT has no tree skiing yet either. Hopefully that will change.

If you're desperate for night skiing check out tiny West Mountain. It's got some decent stuff but it does get crowded.
post #23 of 24

Gore is a fun mountain with a slightly confusing topography.  More interesting and challenging than Okemo or Mt. Snow.  It has some very nice glades, The Cirque is like going on a mini adventure in the backcountry.  Easy to get to from NYC.  Hope you get some snow.

post #24 of 24

Sunapee, NH is an option.  It's about 4 1/2 hours from Manhattan, and it has interesting terrain -- no steeps, really, and what glades they have are still closed -- but complex fall lines everywhere and excellent grooming (as well as knockout views of the lake, if you're into that).  It can get busy on holidays, so the recommendation is tentative, but it's certainly as enjoyable as Stratton, if not as big.

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