Two major sister resorts are the draw here: Sugarloaf and Sunday River. These two resorts typically offer the longest ski seasons on the East Coast. Sunday River opens in October and Sugarloaf closes in May. A number of Olympians have trained at Sugarloaf, including Olympic champion snowboarder, Seth Wescott.
The following Maine ski resorts work with international tour operators and regularly host overseas school groups.
A three-and-a-half hour drive from Boston, Sunday River features eight interconnected mountains and three base lodges, and is a favorite with skiers and boarders. The resort is home to New England's only Chondola lift which takes skiers from the base to the North Peak in just seven minutes. Sunday River offers night skiing and riding, as well as snow tubing, ziplining, a lighted skating rink and two spas. From the Outdoor Center, don cross-country skis or snowshoes to traverse many kilometers of trails. After your adventures, enjoy a hot beverage on the center's luxurious couches in front of a warm fireplace.
Known for: extensive snow-making capabilities (92% of resort terrain) — but the real stuff is usually in plentiful supply!
Lodging: Sunday River offers lodging options for every taste and budget, ranging from the cozy Snow Cap Inn to hundreds of condominiums to two Grand Resort Hotels. There is also a Youth Ski Dormitory for school groups. Every property is located right on the resort and within walking distance from the slopes. The nearby picturesque town of Bethel also offers inns and comfortable bed & breakfasts.
Special Activities: Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snow tubing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating and ziplining. In late spring, visit the the Sunday River Sugaring House, the resort's own maple syrup center. Go on a maple sugaring tour, see a demonstration, and try free candy and syrup samples.
Trails & Parks: 135 (38 Beginner, 52 Intermediate, 24 Difficult, 21 Expert), six terrain parks with progression features from small to large; one 18-foot superpipe; 35 acres dedicated to freestyle terrain
Awards: In SKI magazine's 2013 Readers' Poll for Eastern US resorts, Sunday River ranked #1 in Grooming, #2 for Snow, and #3 for Terrain Parks.
Sugarloaf is Maine's most northern ski resort, located in the heart of the Carrabassett Valley, and surrounded by Maine's western mountains. Take the Timberline Quad to Sugarloaf's lofty 4,237-foot summit for 360-degree panoramic views of Vermont, New Hampshire, Canada, and the majestic Mount Katahdin. A recent addition is the Skyline Quad, the fastest fixed-grip lift on the market. The resort also has three terrain parks and two halfpipes, 60 miles of cross-country trails, 161 trails and glades, and the Perfect Turn Ski and Snowboard School.
Known for: Sugarloaf Snowfields offers the only lift-serviced-above-treeline skiing in the eastern United States. This resort also has one of the east's only permanent snowboardcross/skiercross courses — Sidewinder, designed by two-time U.S. Olympic snowboardcross gold medalist Seth Wescott.
Lodging: Choose from the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel, located in the heart of the Sugarloaf Alpine Village, or the mountain-style Sugarloaf Inn, located right on the slopes. You can also select from hundreds of condominiums ranging in unit size from studios to five bedrooms or private homes.
Special Activities: Ziplining, cross country skiing, snow tubing, ice skating, snowmobiling. Trampolining, rock wall climbing, skate boarding and other activities at the Carrabassett Valley Antigravity Complex.
Trails: 34 beginner, 49 intermediate, 39 difficult, and 31 expert. In total, this resort offers more than 1,230 developed skiable acres. Brackett Basin is Sugarloaf's newest terrain, the first phase of a massive 655-acre expansion onto neighboring Burnt Mountain with acres of backcountry-style glades, including steeps, chutes and cliffs.
Awards: In SKI magazine's 2013 Readers' Poll for Eastern U.S. resorts, Sugarloaf ranked #1 in Terrain Variety.
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