Smugglers’ Notch: The Underrated Ski Resort of VT

Everyone knows about Killington, Sugarloaf, and Stowe. What some don’t know is that right through the mountain pass from Stowe Resort is another ski resort that gives you that old-timey feel. Here it isn’t about how fast you get up and down the mountain, but the fun that you have doing it. Smugglers’ Notch needs to be on your short list if you love to ski or snowboard!

Tyler and I took a quick weekend trip here about a year ago now and absolutely loved it. We still talk about going back and would hop on a plane in a heartbeat if we had the vacation days.

A couple walking with their snowshoes to the slopes. Something you'll see at Smugglers' Notch.
Photo by Alain Wong on Unsplash

One of the things that surprised me most was how nice the people in Vermont were. I thought people down South were supposed to be the nicest, but dang. Everyone was so helpful and kind.

Here are some of the reasons I think you shouldn’t overlook Smuggs’ when planning your next ski vacation.

Things to Do for the Whole Family

Once you arrive, you never have to leave the resort if you don’t want to. What sets Smugg’s apart is that it’s truly a family friendly spot and offers something for each age group. Don’t take that to mean that it isn’t a great couple’s getaway. Tyler and I went together and had a blast.

For the kids, there is a FunZone where they can expel some of that energy with games, a bouncy house, and an obstacle course. The mascots, Mogul Mouse and Rockin’ Ron the Pirate can be seen around all day, even on the slopes. Ron will also sing to you at breakfast if you’re lucky. Plus they offer a hot chocolate warm-up starting at 3:30 every day.

For teens and adults, they of course offer some wonderful skiing or boarding. There are so many other winter activities that you should try though! Snowshoeing, tubing, snowmobiling, it’s all offered at Smugglers’ Notch.

Snowshoeing beside the frozen river at Smugglers' Notch.

Personal Attention

You aren’t just a number here. Each employee we met made us feel like they were glad we were there and it felt like we were given special treatment. In reality that’s how they treat everyone!

Rockin’ Ron that I mentioned above made it a point to come talk to us each time he saw us. It wasn’t crowded that weekend and it looked like we were the only couple there without kids. Tyler took a ski lesson and I took a snowboarding lesson and our instructors were so attentive to what we needed.

 A small creek with little rocks sprinkled throughout and frozen over. Smugglers' Notch is surrounded by beautiful landscapes.

When we went snowshoeing Tyler had to rent boots because the only shoes he brought were Sperry’s. We rented towards the end of the day and needed to be back before they closed so we wouldn’t be charged for another day’s rent on the boots and snowshoes.

When it got close to closing time they called me and said they would sit his shoes in a safe place where we could pick them up and to bring the snowshoes back early in the morning and we wouldn’t be charged. That was above and beyond what they had to do!

No High Speed Lifts

Now some of you may not agree with me on this one. I could care less if there is a high speed lift at a resort. Honestly, I love having the time to give my legs a rest and talk to whoever I’m with that day.

I think many people have gotten spoiled with the high speed lifts and how quickly they get you up the mountain. There’s something to be said for taking your time and enjoying the scenery though.

Less Crowded

We visited the first weekend of December in 2018 and there was absolutely no one there. Anytime we went out to eat we saw a couple other families, there were a few people skiing on the mountain, and we saw one other family when we rented snowshoes.

A look back on the mountain at Smugglers' Notch while snowshoeing. The sky is overcast and foggy.

Tyler and I both took full day lessons and we were the only ones in each of them. So we got a private lesson for the price of a group one. Pro tip: I have noticed if you go early in the season this is common at many east coast resorts. If you are just learning, it’s also perfect since the mountain isn’t crowded you’ll have many runs to yourself.

Affordable Activities

Ski vacations are getting incredibly expensive. Lift tickets at many larger resorts out west are over $150 FOR ONE DAY. I don’t know if you can tell that this is slightly infuriating to me. My home mountain is between $110-$120. Disclaimer: We do have an Ikon Season Pass.

With such high prices at so many other resorts it’s nice to see that at the time of writing, Smuggs’ lift ticket is less than $100. Even on holidays! The lift tickets aren’t the only reasonable purchase you can make though.

The smaller lift at Smugglers' Notch. A foggy day and not many people on the mountain.

I think we paid about $20 each to snowshoe and all the restaurants we went to were affordable. Even at their fancy restaurant we only paid $150 for our meal and that was with an appetizer, entrees, dessert, and multiple drinks. Usually at ski resorts they charge you an arm and a leg to feed you.

The lessons were also very reasonable. For someone like me, who likes to take a lesson just to get comfortable on the mountain, one of the first things I look for is how much a lesson costs.

Smugglers’ Notch: Visit this Winter!

It may not be the biggest mountain or have the longest runs, but the character of this resort is what sets it apart. Resort employees go above and beyond to ensure that you have an incredible vacation. It was also voted #1 Family Resort in the East by Ski Magazine for 2020.

With so many resort options in Vermont, I recommend giving Smugglers’ Notch a try and see how you like it! Have you ever been to Smuggs’ or do you visit other Vermont ski mountains?’

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. It’s such a unique place — thanks for sharing! I traveled around with ski racers for 4 years to places like Stowe, Killington, Sunday River, etc…. we would always pass Smugglers Notch and I would be a little kid staring out the window saying “Let’s stop there!” Haha

    Safe travels!

    http://www.chris-toone.com

    1. That is so cool! In a little over a week I’m headed to Stratton, Killington, and Sugarbush! Let me know if you have any tips.

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