Stowe vs. Sugarbush


New member
My high school ski club is already planning our big trip for next year. We're pretty much set on using this hostel, because of good recommendations, ease, and pricing. Now we need to decide - Stowe vs. Sugarbush. We'll get 3 days of skiing (2 midweek) because we have a 4 day weekend teacher work day deal. This trip is catered to mostly intermediate and advanced skiers, which is most of the club. I've been to Stowe and had a blast, haven't been to Sugarbush. For those that have been to both, how would you compare steeps, moguls, trees, park, and snow quality between the two - especially for dates below? What else should I know about Sugarbush that I don't already?

We're planning to be skiing there on Jan 25, 26, and 27th (really our only option besides winter or spring break for a trip 10 hours away). We were planning to drive through the night (er bus) the Weds. (24th) we get out of school, arrive in VT early the next morning and ski the next day. We're plannig to do sort of the same thing on the way back, drive through the night on Saturday after skiing and arrive back early on Sunday. I've been on drive through the night trips before personally and done fine, and again it really seems like our only option to get a reasonable amount of skiing in, plus midweek skiing = minimal lift lines. Does this seem like a reasonable plan?

We plan not to let any first time skiers on this trip - we do enough local day trips on tiny va/pa mountains where you have to try to get hurt for them to find out if they like it before coming on an expensive 3 day trip, an if they hate skiing the first day they don't have much to do the other 2 dars. We'll be requiring attendance on one of our day trips, or a trip last year, or an old lift ticket, or that you have your on equipment to come as proof of previous skiing.

Does any of this make sense? Thanks!
Since the location of your lodging is already right in Stowe, I might recommend Stowe based on the simple fact of not having to drive an hour each way to the Bush. You would also save a lot of money on gas. If you are busing, I assume it would cost less if you don't drive as far? Something to look into if money is a factor. Also, not sure what your group rates are, but Stowe is generally more expensive than the Bush, so that is another factor.

Three days of skiing at one area would be more than enough time to get bored. Perhaps you should consider one day for each mountain (Lincoln, Glen Ellen, Mansfield) instead of all your time at one location? This is especially important consideration for Sugarbush as they do not run their Slidebrook Chair mid-week non-holiday.

The idea of driving overnight just to get in one more day of skiing wouldn't appeal to me, but I am biased due to my location. I would definitely recommend taking a poll from interested participants. If price was not an issue, I would rather ski Stowe than Sugarbush, though probably for different reasons than your ski club would be interested in.
Oops one thing I didn't say was the lodging has both a lodge at Stowe and a Lodge at Sugarbush, so that's why those are the two main options. The thing about driving an extra hour is, when you've driven 10, whats 11 :)

In out meetings we've talked about the drive through the night for 2 days vs. 3 days of skiing. The general consensus we've come to is for 10 hours each way, we may as well get 3 in. Most of us only get to a real mountain (we're used to 600 vert w/ 20 inches of real snow annually here) once or twice a year, so on a trip like this that extra day is worth alot. Plus, we're still young and in high school with unlimited energy, and the bus driver is driving - not us :) However, I'll defenitely stick a poll up on our website ( about this.

I'll also look into doing 2 or 3 resorts while we're there. One other plan we had was for those 10ish that'll need rentals, having everyone rent locally (I know a shop that'll give us a group rate) before the trip so we don't have to deal with rentals when we get there, especially if we do multiple resorts - this seems to make sence, can anyone think of any drawbacks?

Pricing is similiar enough (within $50 for the whole trip difference) at both resorts, so leave that out of consideration.

Thanks for suggestions, and keep em coming!
Both of great mountains. For your midweek days it doesn't really matter where you ski, but for your one weekend day defiantly go to Sugarbush. Preferably Mt. Ellen because they will have even less crowds.
i can only think of benefits regarding pre-renting locally. probably cheaper and less daily hassel. i wasn't aware they had lodges in both locations so that takes care of that and the pricing is almost the same. gee wiz, looks like you have a tough decision!!

two quick thoughts: stowe is considered by many to be "the" quintesential ski desination in new england. for people who do not ski new england often, it is probably a great place to go. three high speeders all serving tons of vert including a gondi, you can't go wrong. the other thought it stowe is further north and may receive more snow, less rain, or better conditions than bush. i think i would pick stowe based on weather related odds, especially for a january trip during which many ski areas are still building bases and adding trails.

mount ellen is pretty boring, imo. so i am biased in looking at the bush as mainly just lincoln peak. there is a reason why bush offers such cheap tickets and passes for ellen only, most people are after the experience lincoln offers.

having never been to either on a january weekend, i can not speak for the crowds, but i wouldn't let it sway your decision. there are far busier resorts you did well to skip over.
riverc0il":1nacqzc2 said:
the other thought it stowe is further north and may receive more snow, less rain, or better conditions than bush. i think i would pick stowe based on weather related odds, especially for a january trip during which many ski areas are still building bases and adding trails.

I would choose Stowe mainly for this reason. I enjoy both resorts tremendously, but even though Stowe is more expensive, if I'm driving 11 hours I want to maximize my odds of finding good snow conditions.
I love both areas, but Stowe is clearly my favorite between the two. With Sugarloaf, Stowe is my favorite in the East.


Layout, no long flats, a nice mix of trail difficulty. The Front Four trails might be overhyped, but Starr and Goat are still classics in my book. Another fun trail that is often overlooked is Hayride.
Thanks so much for all the help. We're pretty much set on Stowe for Thurs. and Fri., and still deciding on Stowe (10 minutes from where we're staying) or Sugarbush (about an hour from where we're staying) for Sat. mostly because of crowds and variety. I know some have chimed in about this, but this is really the last decision, and any more thoughts would be appreciated. I'm inclined just to leave it as 3 day at Stowe, simply because it's a bit easier, and it'll give people more time to get to know the trails/routine, especially since alot of people haven't been there, but if there's a strong consensus of
Sugarbush (or another area resort, I know the place we're staying has relationships with Stowe and Sugarbush and can get the tickets for way below normal group rate) for the third/weekend day, we'll definitely look into it more. And no, MRG isn't an option, er well I'd love to go there, but it is a high school club ski trip, and I don't want responsibility for someone dieing.
aaron12345":27souglq said:
And no, MRG isn't an option, er well I'd love to go there, but it is a high school club ski trip, and I don't want responsibility for someone dieing.
There is plenty of easier stuff at MRG, someone could get hurt as much at Stowe or Sugarbush than MRG.

The proof? My daughter was maybe 5 the first time I brought here there and we skied off the sunnyside double as well as the single.

But I can understand your worries, it seems there always one in those school trip that always get hurt. :roll: Including the organiser for a university night skiing trip I remember. :oops:
i definitely wouldn't recommend MRG for a school trip. while patrick is right, your chances of getting hurt are not increased at MRG (maybe even decreased since people would be less likely to try the harder terrain but stowe might be more tempting since it doesn't have a reputation or "look" as hard), i do not believe MRG has the variety of terrain that would appeal to everyone. sure, there is one trail off the sunnyside double that is easy, and then there is birdland and upper catamount from the top, but the choices for a groomer only skier are limited, especially compared to places like bush and stowe.

aaron, do you have to decided ahead of time? if you have the flexability, i would consider the third day depending upon conditions and recent snow fall if possible. it is not often that bush gets a ton more snow than stowe, but it could be possible bush is the better place to ski. if you do bush on saturday, they would have the slidebrook express open which may be a consideration.
I wish I had the felixibility, but pretty much everything has to be paid for almost a month in advance, and the bus company is given the itinerary about 2 months in advance - we incur a pretty hefty fee for changes. So pretty much we have to guess on conditions and hope for the best. While group trips are cheaper, that's the problem with them.
Oh, what a dilemma to have.
Since your lodging is much closer to Stowe, that seems the place to go. I really like Sugarbush, but mainly because of the Castlerock trails and the like. On a big-group trip, though, you're liable to have a wide range of abilities, and while the Bush has lots of cruisers, Stowe lets people of a wide range of abilities and aspirations ride the lifts together. Off the quad at Stowe, you can pick from genuinely scary trails like Goat, glades and woods, and green trails and in between. At Sugarbush, with a couple of exceptions, on Lincoln, at least, you have to split up to keep everyone happy.
Plus, once the lifts close, there's a whole lot more to do in Stowe.

If you want to try a different mountain one day, you might also consider Smuggler's Notch. MRG is great, but it's not everyone's cup of tea, and given its lack of snowmaking and grooming, if there's been a thaw, you're out of luck. Plus, you might have knuckle draggers in your group.