By Colin Field.
The first time I visited Vermont’s Jay Peak I was under ten. I barely remember it. Now, over 20 years later, and visiting with a son of my own, a lot has changed. One of the best changes is the Porter Airlines flight from Toronto to Burlington. That 7-10 hour drive is knocked down to a 50-minute flight. Too easy.
With a rental car, the short drive to Jay is a breeze and when we check into the newly constructed Jay Hotel our accommodations are awesome: giant, luxurious, with a full kitchen and views of the mountain. You know when the Tram is opening because you can see people lining up. On top of all that, the Pumphouse, a 5-million-dollar, 50,000-square-foot waterpark connected to the hotel, makes entertaining kids of all ages easy.
Seriously, all ages: The Flowrider is a standing wave that can keep the raddest of dads stoked. Plus, there’s a bar in the Pumphouse and somehow you can walk around the entire waterpark with a plastic cup full of beer in your hand. God bless Vermont.
So how is the skiing?
Well the Tram gets you to the top of the 4,000-foot Jay Peak and on a powder day it’s buzzing with energy. From there it’s pretty open. The trees would be the obvious attraction for the freeskier: Jay has more glades than most of the eastern resorts combined. They drop steeply and impressively through birch and pine forests, challenging the best skiers with incredibly fun skiing. For the touring type, the Big Jay Backcountry drops off the backside into some of the best terrain the east has to offer. And with four terrain parks, even the park rats will be happy.
After dropping the kid off at Jay’s daycare, we quickly meet some locals on the Tram and it isn’t long before they invite us to duck a rope and ski out some knee-deep pow. There’s no secrecy behind it; they’re open and willing to share. I hate to generalize, but my encounters with Vermonters proved them to be friendly and relaxed.
Simply put, Vermont rules. If green cards weren’t so difficult to get, there are only two states I’d ever consider moving to and Vermont is one of them. It doesn’t feel like the US. Somehow, it feels like Canada. And as the bumper sticker “Keep the US out of VT” suggests, I think that’s a compliment many Vermonters would be proud of. It’ll be way less than 20 years before I visit again.
More about Vermont snow holidays here.