With bountiful pristine snow-covered deciduous trees, sprawling Green Mountain views, long, wide, memorable alpine trails and a tiny, quirky, local downtown area, Okemo in Ludlow, Vermont rewards visitors for braving the cold and embracing an outdoor lifestyle.
A few weeks ago we set off on an epic family road trip. First stop was Okemo Mountain Ski Resort, in South-Central Vermont, where we stayed at Jackson Gore Inn. Vermont is always a spectacular choice for families, hardcore skiers and snowboarders. There are so many great Vermont family resorts that elevate winter to an art form, but Okemo easily stands its ground. With style and substance, Okemo it is so pretty you’ll fall hard for this Vermont ski resort.
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Why Choose Okemo When There are so Many Vermont Family Resorts?
Everywhere you look, every trail you race down, every lift and lodge and condo unit at Okemo Mountain Resort is shiny, clean and inviting. In fact, I feel like you’d be hard pressed to find a prettier ski resort anywhere. And that’s saying something because picturesque views and memorable ski experiences are one of Vermont’s biggest draws.
History and First Impressions
We had been wanting to get Okemo for a couple of years but timing never worked out, so when we finally arrived after our 9 1/2 hour drive from home, we were keen to check the ski resort out. On first glance, when we drove up and parked to check in, Jackson Gore Inn from the outside reminded me a little of Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Ontario. But Vermont family resorts stand on their own and they outdo anything we can find at home which is one of the reasons this ski family makes the trip to Vermont annually.
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At the top of Okemo Mountain 🏔 elevation 3344 we discovered a trail called Dream Weaver. It’s picturesque, long, and has so much charm. A couple of challenges at the start and many undulating hills. New family favourite. #travel #giftedexperience #skiing #wanderlust #familytravel #skivermont #travel #outdoors #ifwtwa #vermontskiresorts #love #family #mountains #nature #travelblogger #skiblogger
Okemo Mountain ski resort was founded in 1955 by a group of business people. The first chairlift was introduced in 1965. Until then it operated with Poma platter lifts. Slopeside lodging started up in 1961. In 1982, the Mueller family purchased Okemo. Today, the emphasis here is clearly on family.
What’s Okemo Mean Anyways?
Legend has it that “Okemo” is an American Indian (Algonquin) name meaning “all come home.” Its use as a name in the area can be traced as far back as the 1890s.
Inside Jackson Gore Lodge we discovered well appointed clean and tastefully decorated adjoining condominium rooms, which were ideal for us with two teens. Travel with teens is slightly different than travel with younger kids because teens require more privacy. We have stayed in many different Vermont family resorts and the layout and set up of the room or rooms is always slightly different. Jackson Gore Inn worked beautifully for this age group.
Lodging – Privacy For The Whole Family
I marvelled at the privacy the adjoining rooms afforded us and the quiet as well. Inside the condominium was a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher, fridge, stove and microwave and in a small closet off near the main washroom we found a stacked washer dryer which was extremely useful. After two full days of skiing 6 to 7 hours each day those socks need to be washed.
On our first full day at Okemo, the ski in and ski out convenience won me over fast. In the morning as soon as lifts opened we gathered up our gear and walked out the door then put our skis on. After a quick stop at the ticket window to get our passes, we hopped right onto the Coleman Brook Express Quad chairlift. HUGE timesaver and I am all about those when we are on vacation in Vermont.
All lodging is privately owned and listed with Okemo for managing. At Jackson Gore, there are more than 200 units being managed by Okemo – all considered ski-in, ski out.
For your information there are ski lockers inside Jackson Gore Inn, but you need to bring a lock from home if you visit.
Our Favourite Things About Okemo
This was our first experience staying in a ski in ski out lodge and it was brilliant. Not only are the ski in and ski out accommodations extremely convenient, they are also smart for so many reasons.
Ski In and Ski Out
Until this particular trip I didn’t fully realize how clever ski in ski out accommodations are. Hungry? No problem. Ski back to your room, lock up or simply leave skis in a rack for an hour, and eat lunch inside your condo, and head back out skiing for the afternoon. Saves time and money and means more time on the slopes skiing or snowboarding. LOVED that and it has spoiled me for all other stays.
OH, I had been dying to see this in action ever since I learned about it at a ski writer event about two years ago. Okemo’s orange bubble chairs are warm and cozy and automatic and one defining characteristic that sets this Vermont ski resort apart. SO great on those brutally cold February days.
How Many Bubble Chairs are There at Okemo?
Okemo has two orange bubble chairs on the Sunburst Six liftline and the Quantum Four lift. My older daughter, 17, and I rode the Quantum Four bubble chair together many times. This made us ridiculously happy on a gorgeous sunny blue sky day. The chair not only feels warm and cozy because it is heated, so no draft up the back of your ski jacket or down the back of your neck, but it also seems safer since it is fully enclosed. LOVE.
It takes a tiny bit of adjusting to get used to the fact that the bubble lifts on its own at the top of the run when it is time to get out. That was clearly indicated at the end of each bubble chair lift.
Actually every single time we climbed into the Bubble Chair we made it an event. My daughter kept joking: “Do you feel the windchill? Me either!! and we’d laugh maniacally. This was one of my favourite memories of our family ski trip to Okemo. These chairs are so comfortable and they feel safer which is also comforting when skiing with kids.
Indoor/ Outdoor Pool and Hot Tub
YES. ALL THE YESES. The night we arrived we were pretty tired and hungry too. My youngest wanted to check out the pool immediately. So we did.
There are many hot tubs scattered around Okemo. But the huge indoor/ outdoor heated pool is a showstopper. Of course there is a sauna in the same area. The change rooms are clean and well maintained.
After a long exhausting and invigorating day skiing, it’s a treat to be able to retreat and take a swim outside under the stars while the snow falls. As long as your shoulders and your body are beneath the surface the water temperature feels great. On our last night at Okemo we all took a swim, gazing up at the sky as snowflakes fell around us. Can’t ask for anything more magical than that!
Trail System Navigation
We skied at four different ski resorts on our 12 day family ski trip through Vermont, Maine and Quebec. There are 121 trails with 98 % snow coverage and 20 lifts at Okemo. Okemo Mountain Resort gets 200 inches of annual snowfall and has a range of terrain options and difficulty levels.
- 39 Novice (Green trails)
- 44 Intermediate (Blue)
- 30 Expert (Black Diamond)
- 8 Most Difficult (Double Black Diamond)
Okemo Mountain Resort Has Picturesque Runs
I already mentioned that there are 121 trails and 20 lifts, but what I enjoyed the most was the size of several alpine trails. We skied happily for our entire first day and I was more than comfortable on a range of blue trails. On day two though I wanted to find the lengthiest trails to maximize my time and sometimes that means seeking greens out. I’d read a magazine article on the drive to Vermont that indicated Dream Weaver was NOT TO BE MISSED.
My Okemo Trail Picks
My mission on this adventure was to find some of the longest runs at each resort area and do them simply because Vermont is the world’s best place to stretch your ski legs out. So we searched Dream Weaver out and skied it several times together. You can reach it from the South Face Express Quad which leads you straight to the top or Okemo Mountain Peak. Summit Elevation is 3,344 feet.
A lengthy, winding, green trail I can still see when I close my eyes, Dream Weaver is peaceful and at 1,676 meters long it is a sweet length for sunny blue sky days at Okemo. While it is a green there are a couple of quick turns and the terrain is undulating so it feels more challenging than most greens in my opinion. This is my respite from working like mad around the clock as a self employed business and parent of teens. So rewarding.
Mountain Road (Okemo’s longest trail) is 3,658 meters long. LOVED both of these. Mountain Road might be the longest trail I have ever done until that visit. (We found some long ones in Maine to our surprise.) Mountain Road was so long that we lost each other when skiing together, because there were a few cutovers and one of my daughters took a wrong turn. No matter though we always caught up at the lift line.
Tuckered Out is one of those trails that lulls you into thinking it will be an easy coast all the way back to your room at Jackson Gore. Think again. After skiing it several times we all agreed it was named Tuckered Out because you are tuckered out when you get to your room for lunch, or after a day of skiing when it’s closing time.
Jolly Green Giant was also a run we loved. It was classified as a blue intermediate trail. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Okemo Mountain Resort is just the right size and the trails are not overly complex to map in your head when you first get there. The space is reasonable to navigate, which is a factor, especially with kids. All trails lead either to Jackson Gore Inn and the lodge, or the Clock Tower.
A Few Okemo Mountain Statistics
The base of Okemo stands at 1,144 feet (346 m) above sea level.
The summit is 3,344 feet (1,019 m). …
The mountain has a total of 121 trails spread across 667 acres (2.70 km2) skiable terrain. Trails range from easy to intermediate and challenging too so there’s definitely something for everyone. We were there early in the week and spied many families as well as a lot of experienced senior skiers.
What About Food?
Okemo is in a tiny quirky village called Ludlow. There’s a Safeway as soon as you pull into the village so stop there and get some groceries, then you can eat in your condominium for lunch and breakfast at the very least.
Ludlow has plenty of great restaurants but be warned. We showed up on a Monday to a place called Goodman’s American Pie, which is crazy adorable inside by the way, but the wait was astronomical. I spoke to a couple of people working there and they advised that it gets so busy some people call their orders in the day before. Seats are ski lift chairs and there aren’t many.
There are a few on resort restaurants such as The Roundhouse, The Coleman Brook Tavern and the Okemo Taphouse. Read more about the Okemo Mountain Resort dining options here if you are visiting soon. Several other nearby restaurants in the downtown area have pub food and pizza too. Of course if you are skiing you will smell waffles from the waffle cabin during the day. Take advantage of those treats at least once.
Okemo was purchased by Vail Resorts in September 2018, and this was also their first winter season as an Epic resort.
Vail Resorts has announced a few updates to lodges. Those projects are slated to start as soon as this ski season ends and should be completed by the start of the 2019/2020 season.
Ski lifts run from 8 to 4 p.m. weekends and holidays.
Weekends lifts run from 9 to 4 p.m.
We were recently guests of Okemo Mountain Ski Resort and received lodging and lift tickets in exchange for consideration here. My opinion is all my own and it is also truthful.