Sugarbush Top Ten Tips
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Written by John Bleh
1. The Sugarbush App
This is your one-stop shop for Sugarbush information. Available for both Apple and Android, the app has lift cams, the daily snow report, phone numbers, trail maps, events, deals, and other important mountain details.
2. Reservations Are Your Friend
Don’t forget to book everything ahead of time. Daycare, rentals, fitness classes, massages, holiday dinners, and fun events can all be booked online or by phone.
3. Getting and Parking Here
The best parking spots are awarded to those who show up early, of course. (Check online or on your app each morning to see when the lifts start running.) Getting to Lincoln Peak or Mt. Ellen at the start of the day is also the best way to avoid morning traffic, which peaks between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Plan to sort and organize your gear before you get here so you don’t need to spend much time in the drop-off zone. On weekends and holidays, if you do end up parking farther away, have no fear: jitney shuttles will be out in full force. There is also valet parking on a first-come, first-served basis in front of Clay Brook. Alternatively, consider riding the GMT Bus to avoid parking altogether, with stops including both base areas, the Sugarbush Inn, Sugarbush Village condos, and downtown Waitsfield. And for those with electric cars, there are charging stations in the garage at Clay Brook and in Lot C at Lincoln Peak, and new ones planned for Mt. Ellen.
4. Tickets and Passes
Everyone needs an RFID card to get on the lifts—either a SugarXpress card or a 2019–20 IKON Pass card. If you already have a SugarXpress card from a previous season, simply reload it online and head directly to the lift. (Mountain Collective passholders need to reload at the ticket office.) Buying tickets online will save you at least 10 percent, even if you purchase on the day you ski or ride. If you don’t have your SugarXpress RFID card yet, you can either head to the ticket office or buy it online and print it at one of the Xpress kiosks, located at the Gate House, Farmhouse, and Mt. Ellen base lodges.
Remember to put your RFID card in a left-side pocket with nothing else in it (for example, no other tickets, pieces of paper, or cell phones).
5. Lockers and Bag Storage
Gate House Lodge, the Farmhouse, and Mt. Ellen Base Lodge have plenty of baggage storage space. Another option is to check your bag with Guest Services in Gate House Lodge at Lincoln Peak or at Mt. Ellen Base Lodge. If you’re sick of lugging your gear up to the hill every day, consider renting one of the seasonal lockers, located next to the General Store at Lincoln Peak.
6. Guest Services
If you’re having issues with your tickets, want to know what’s been groomed that day, or are looking for lost items, the Guest Services desks at both mountains can help. No question is too weird for them. Trust me, they’ve seen and heard a lot over the years.
All those friendly people wearing the red jackets with the white “i” on them? They’re here to help! The ambassadors, located around the base area and up on the hill, can help provide directions, give you mountain information, and tell you what trails are skiing the best. (In the afternoons, you may find them handing out hot cider at the base.) Whatever you need to know, ask the ambassadors; they’re a great resource.
8. Avoiding Lift Lines
Our base area lift lines tend to be longest from mid- to late morning. Ski and ride early to avoid the mid-morning rush. If your ability permits, stay on the upper-mountain lifts, which are often less crowded (though Castlerock’s line can be its own beast). If you’re at Lincoln Peak, the Valley House Quad usually has a shorter line. At Super Bravo and Gate House, make sure your group is organized, with passes in the correct pockets, to move right through the RFID gates. Mt. Ellen—accessible via shuttle, on the Slide Brook Express Quad, or by car—is often less crowded than Lincoln Peak. Plus, the views from Mt. Ellen’s summit are unbeatable.
Try having lunch or snacks at off times to avoid the indoor crowds. The cafeterias and bars tend to be busy between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Quieter dining spots often include Green Mountain Lounge, Valley House cafeteria, and Rumble’s Kitchen. If the weather’s warm enough, consider dining out on the patios or decks or while enjoying the new firepits in the Lincoln Peak courtyard.
10. Photo Op Locations
We all love to record our ski trips. Here are a few spots to get that Instagram-worthy photo: the Panorama trail at Mt. Ellen, with views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks; the top of Spring Fling, with views of Lincoln Peak village; the top of Super Bravo, with views of Heaven’s Gate and Allyn’s Lodge; and the gondola in the Lincoln Peak courtyard. Or pose with the cow in front of Clay Brook—always a favorite with kids of all ages.