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Smuggler's Notch ski resort in Vermont, New England, is consistently rated by winter-sports industry media and, more importantly, by its visitors, as the number one resort for family ski holidays in North America.
aerial credit smugglers notch resort


Affectionately dubbed 'Smuggs' and marketed as the USA's leading family ski resort, Smuggler's Notch certainly ticks all the right boxes for its target market.

Its attractive low-rise low-key resort village has all the amenities, layout and atmosphere of a winter-sports themed holiday camp, which is either a big attraction or hugely off-putting depending on your point of view and whether or not you have children.

Smuggler's Notch offers all the creature comforts and facilities needed to cater for an enjoyable family ski holiday, and the gentle slopes of its forest-sheltered local ski hill are perfect for children and beginners of all ages; there are also two further linked mountains in the ski area that offer an extensive range of wooded terrain for intermediates and more advanced-ability family members too.

The resort is located in the northern section of Vermont's Green Mountains, around 60km east of Vermont's largest city, the historic lakeside university city of Burlington.

Ski area

The ski area at Smuggler's Notch is spread over three mountains: Morse Mountain immediately adjacent to the resort village, plus the linked Madonna Mountain and Sterling Mountain which sit side-by-side slightly further to the south of the resort.

The main base area at Smuggler's Notch village houses a spacious beginners' area and well-equipped children's zones, whilst the two nearby principal access chairlifts on Morse Mountain have mid-mountain dismount points to ease the progress of novices on to the main pistes; one of these chairlifts, the 'Mogul Mouse's Magic Lift', is also specially geared to run at slow speed and features chairs that run closer to the ground to better suit young children and nervous first-timers.

Over 90% of the well-groomed slopes of Morse Mountain are classified easy (green), with just a couple of more testing short blue runs perfect for progressing novices.

All more experienced skiers and snowboarders staying in the village also use this route to access the more extensive linked sectors at Madonna and Sterling, although it's also possible to drive up to the satellite base area at the foot of those sectors too. From the top of the Morse Mountain chairlifts there's a straightforward green linking piste that leads to the satellite base at the foot of Madonna and Sterling; a similar easy trail also provides the home-run link in the opposite direction.

Both Madonna Mountain and Sterling Mountain are almost totally accessible by competent intermediates, offering a good selection of tree-lined cruises together with some lovely glade areas, with just a handful of challenging routes on the upper face of Madonna Mountain better left to those with more advanced skills.

The resort also has a Nordic snowsports centre, offering cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Off the slopes and apres ski

The village at Smuggler's Notch is set in a peaceful forest clearing and consists predominately of typical New England-style lodges clustered at the base of the resort's Morse Mountain pistes, with a number of more secluded slope-side properties set a little higher amongst the trees on the slopes above; all amenities buildings are centrally located and within walking distance of the surrounding accommodation.

It's an attractively rural scene, with safe open spaces for children to play and run around in; the resort also provides excellent childcare, play areas and entertainment for children of all ages, including a video-games arcade and a dedicated club-style space for teenagers.

There's an outdoor ice-skating rink, a fantastic tree-top adventure course with ziplines, plus an indoor swimming pool and hot tubs; a daily programme of alternative activities is also arranged, including yoga and arts & crafts workshops.

The few on-site restaurants and bars are of course all family-friendly, although there are a couple of options for those who want to escape the kids for a while: the Birch Room at the Hearth & Candle restaurant is for adults only, as is the Bootleggers' Lounge after 9pm. Apres ski and nightlife generally involves mellow live music and occasional cabaret acts.

Apres Ski
Lift System
Off the slopes
Resort Charm
Ski Area
Vertical drop
Altitude range
Ski area
Resort height
Train station
Essex Junction