Killington Resort, Vermont
Tucked beneath Vermont’s second-highest peak, the Killington Basin is a natural place for a ski resort. The K-1 gondola carries skiers and riders to the highest lift-served skiing in the state (yes, even higher than on Stowe’s Mt. Mansfield).
The basin receives, on average, 250 inches of snow each year. If the snow doesn’t fall from the sky, Killington/Pico makes it fall from its guns. With one of the world’s largest snowmaking systems, the resort literally blankets its seven mountains in white. The resort is also huge, by Eastern standards, and truly has terrain for all abilities, including some super bumps, nice glades, old-time narrow trails and plenty of blue squares for easing down the mountain.
Although Killington has consistent snow most of the winter, spring is probably the best time to ski or ride here. Crowds gather on the deck of the Bear Mountain Lodge, hooting and hollering as up-and-coming bump skiers rip it up—or flail—on the legendary Outer Limits trail, the longest, steepest mogul slope in the East. The smell of burgers on the grill wafts into the air, beer is plentiful (for age 21 or older), and everyone is having a good time. It’s like a giant frat party on the slopes.
Killington, though, is not all things to all people. Weekend warriors flock to the slopes, and the chaos is sometimes dangerous. Snowshed (the beginner area) is dubbed “Bloodshed” by some locals. Furthermore, navigating the morass of terrain has made more than one skier or rider wish they had their own GPS system. Experts often find themselves zooming down beginner runs because they have missed their black-diamond choice. Worse still, beginners find themselves stranded on black-diamond runs in an attempt to reach their cars at day’s end. To add to the confusion, Killington has five base areas (six, if you count Pico’s). Killington provides shuttle service at day’s end for those who have taken a wrong turn and ended up at a base different from where they parked in the morning. Be sure to read the signs at each trail junction.
Only about 1,500 feet of Killington’s 3,050-foot vertical drop is working vertical, and only three trails, mostly beginner, meander the last 1,500 feet down to the true base on Rte. 4. People looking to avoid the crowds at the other Killington base areas often park here, take the Skyeship gondola to the mountain(s) proper, then take the long, slow run back at day’s end.
To avoid confusion or ending up on those flat runouts when you’d rather be bashing serious bumps, we recommend one of the free Meet the Mountain tours, which leave from the Snowshed Base Lodge at 12:45 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Guides will show newcomers how best to take advantage of Killington’s trails without getting lost or stuck in the thickest crowds.
Or you can ski Pico, a physically separate mountain from Killington’s other six. Even though it’s 10 minutes away by car, Pico is still worth visiting. Considered by many locals as a feather in the Mother Ship’s cap, Pico has 2,000 feet of vertical, 48 trails and some very interesting (and often uncrowded) terrain. But starting in 2007/08, Pico is only open Thursdays through Mondays.
Killington/Pico will operate the same number of lifts midweek this year as last, with the exception of Tuesdays and Wednesdays non-holiday, when Skyeship Stage 1 and the lifts at Pico will be idle. K1 Lodge and Bear Mountain Lodge will be open daily, with partial services Monday through Thursday non-holiday, through the regular season. Partial services include parking, bathrooms, kiosk-vended lift tickets, first aid, coffee/bakery and Waffle Cabin. Snowshed Lodge will become our main base lodge Monday through Thursday non-holiday, from December 16 to March 28.