Jay Peak, Vermont
If you were to say that East Coast skiing was a hazardous and thankless pursuit, replete with frigid chairlift rides and ice-covered slopes, you wouldn't be totally wrong. There's a reason why those who ski the East are a bit heartier than their western brethren: They have to be. At Jay Peak, where wind still bites on the lift, dangerous patches of ice are few and far between. With a western-style average annual snowfall of more than 300 inches, Jay enjoys the rarest of Northeast mountain pleasures, consistent powder.
Located near the Quebec border in the northernmost part of Vermont, it can be easy to forget that you're still in New England while at Jay. You're just as likely to hear French spoken in the lift lines as you are English, and its liberal rules (read almost nonexistent, save for reminders to ski in groups of three) for tree skiing are a far cry from the vigilant policing common on other East Coast mountains.
While Jay Peak's 76 trails, 385 skiable acres, and 2,153 feet of vertical put it on the small end of the spectrum in terms of sheer size, its open backcountry access and consistent snowfall make it the go-to mountain for aggressive East Coast skiers who don't want to hop a plane. And though it's known as – and is – a no-frills mountain, a recent $500 million investment in amenities, including the Tram Haus Lodge and the brand-new Hotel Jay, means that its lodging options have improved tremendously. Jay may be a hike in comparison to some of its more popular neighbors in the Green Mountain state, but for those willing to make the trek, the long drive will be rewarded with snow.