When you're looking for a place to ski or ride in New England, Killington, Vermont, is always a worthy contender. Dubbed "The Beast of the East," Killington has the largest expanse of rideable terrain on the whole East Coast. (Juggernaut trail alone is 6.2 miles long, the longest on the East Coast.)
Despite good snow, solid eats, and fun on and off the slopes, Killington doesn't have to be an expensive snow destination. Here are some tips on how to do laps without taking out a loan.
Rest Your Head
While rates at the upscale Killington Grand aren't totally over-the-top, the resort isn't exactly for the budget traveler. But if you can get a crew together, Killington has a host of resort-managed properties that are on or within a few minutes from the slopes with decent ski-and-stay packages.
While being on the hill is convenient, it's never the cheapest option. Killington doesn't have a cute little village at the base, but Rutland, the third largest city in Vermont, is 15 miles from the lift.
During the ski season, you can grab a room in Rutland at the Days Inn, Holiday Inn or Comfort Inn for around $100 on a weeknight and $160 for a weekend night. You can swing a banana, coffee and package of Cheerios at the Econolodge with your $80 room.
The Apres Secret
When you're hungry, use some local hacks to save money. For example, Vermont's state laws don't allow for "short-term drink specials," which means they can't legally do happy hour. While that sounds like the worst Apres Ski situation ever, bars drum up early evening business with food deals instead. What could be better than heading right from your last carve to a local watering hole for free wings or half-off burritos?
Jax is known for local craft brews and has totally affordable tuna tacos, soft pretzels, Cali chicken sandwiches, gyros and more. And that's not even counting $2 Taco Tuesdays, $5 flatbreads on Wednesdays, $2 sliders on Thursdays and 3-6 pm free wings all weekend.
If you're a bean lover, check out Liquid Art Coffeehouse, where you can also pick up a breakfast sandwich for $4.95. Sushi Yoshi is super fun with craft beers, hibachi, Chinese dishes, and plenty of yummy rolls under $10.
Another money-saver while you're in town is a free ride. The local bars do their best to keep the inebriated off the road, and therefore have their own vans and busses that will come pick you up and even deliver you home.
Which spots have shuttles running during the week may determine where you're going that night, but most of the options are good. The Wobbly Barn has the Wobbly Wagon. The Pickle Barrel, The Foundry and Jax have the Barrel Rider and the Lookout has the Lookout Shuttle. Just stay sober enough to tip your driver.
The Killington Bus makes the standard loop for free. You can also get a ride to the bars and restaurants along Killington Road until 1:15 am and even get to Rutland for $2.
Killington is also home to one of three locations of Darkside Snowboards, a hardcore Vermont snowboard outfitter. You'll find Darkside business cards in most of the local hotels that you can bring in for 10 percent off.
"We do our best to work with everybody on price," says Jimbo, Darkside's Tech Manager since 1989. "We always have last season's boards, boots and bindings on sale, and demos at 20-to-40 percent off."
And There’s a Hill!
And here's the important stuff: Killington has 115 trails that total 73 miles and 3,050 feet of vertical.
Time your trip right and the trees will be holding. There are 21 lifts, three of which are gondolas, and The Beast gets 250 inches of natural a year.
Get yourself on Great Eastern and just open up. Or go play at NeffLand, the other-wordly themed terrain park with UFO and planet jibs, as well as two pipes.
Killington is also home to The Stash, an unreal terrain park built with Burton that has all-natural features in the woods. And if you manage to ride all that, Pico Mountain is just a short shuttle ride away, and that's included in your lift ticket.
This is where the bulk of your cost will be. There are fewer tricks to save on lift tickets than on food and lodging, but you can get a two-day lift ticket for $160 midweek. Again, it's a cost, but when you consider the terrain, it's pretty square.
So don't let prices keep you away from Killington. With a little bit of insider knowledge, the Beast of the East is accessible for the budget traveler. And you can put that savings toward a return in the summer – just so happens Killington has some sick mountain biking.
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