By Jennifer Brandt, Vermont Country correspondent.
STRATTON — Nestled in the rolling hills of Southern Vermont, Stratton Mountain is a premier skiing and snowboarding destination and a haven for those seeking a complete winter experience. An excellent spot for locals and visitors alike, Stratton, even outside skiing and snowboarding, appeals to all abilities and interests.
Beyond the slopes, the mountain offers a vibrant village and an array of activities catering to diverse interests. Let’s delve into the features that make Stratton Mountain a year-round community, exploring everything from the newly introduced climbing gym to the winter legacy of Homesick.
A winter wonderland beyond skiing and riding
Stratton Mountain has redefined the winter experience by providing a plethora of activities for individuals and families alike. Regardless if you are an avid skier, a first-time snowboarder, or someone looking to explore alternative winter pursuits, the mountain offers something for everyone.
Whether you are into indoor or outdoor activities, Stratton covers everything from snowshoeing, Nordic skiing and fat tire biking in the Nordic Center, to shopping, dining and ice skating on the commons. The village comes alive with the warmth of fire pits, camaraderie and shared stories. Stratton is also home to the Grizzly’s at the Base Lodge, which won most beautifully designed bar in Vermont from Architectural Digest among other apres ski accolades.
A glimpse into the past
Established in 1961, Stratton Mountain quickly evolved into more than just a ski resort. It became a winter home for families, with chalets, a chapel of the snows and entertainment in the base lodge. The sense of community flourished, leading to four generations of families making Stratton their cherished winter destination. What began as a ski resort in the 1960s transformed into a year-round community, embracing the hidden charms of Vermont’s secret summer season.
Legacy of HOMESICK
HOMESICK, held this season on March 22nd, 2024, pays homage to the roots of snowboarding at Stratton, started by legendary photographer Gary Land of East Street Archives. Riders from the 1990s return with their families, bridging the legacy of the past and the vibrant present. As we approach the 40th anniversary of snowboarding at Stratton, Homesick celebrates the mountain’s rich history, intertwining the past with the present.
Tricia Byrnes grew up as a “weekend warrior” coming up from Greenwich, Connecticut, to a family home on Quarter Mile Road in Stratton, Vermont. She first learned to ski but was quickly converted to snowboarding, which was then in its early days. This is what she said about that time at Stratton Mountain:
“The US Open (was) over there on the trail now called East Byrnes Side, and that’s named after my brother. And so there are layers and the history of that place, of learning and becoming a snowboarder. …
“If you were snowboarding and saw someone snowboard, you’d be like, ‘oh, my. God.’ There’s my new friend. We’re going to be homies. Because you’re the only weirdos that are out there doing this thing. You somehow were magnetically drawn to each other, so there was this undercurrent and a real family vibe from the crew. We just grew up together with snowboarding and with each other. Strat has the best backdrop for us. When you’re young, you feel this sense of freedom you don’t get anywhere else. The mountain just felt like you’re really venturing on your own or with your crew.
“All of Stratton meant so much to people, and the US Open really meant so much to people in those early days. And this group of snowboarders is really hungry for that connection again, I think. And it was so cool to see everyone kind of coming home to snowboarding or at least the snowboarding ethos.”
New additions: Climbing gym and health & fitness center
Stratton Mountain continues to evolve with modern amenities, welcoming a new climbing gym and a Training and Fitness Center where you can indulge in an apres ski massage, floating yoga, saunas and a heated pool in addition to the fitness room. These additions cater to those seeking indoor activities, providing a balance to outdoor winter adventures. The village atmosphere is enriched with diverse dining options, including a new restaurant, Carve, that opened its doors this year and offers a luxury steakhouse experience.
Winter learning experiences
Stratton Mountain introduces three new magic carpet lifts and a redesigned learning area for those eager to take lessons and enhance their skills on the slopes. With expert instructors and newly redesigned learning spaces, even beginners can embark on a journey to discover the joy of winter sports. The commitment to creating a supportive environment by offering group and private lessons is evident, making skiing and snowboarding accessible to all ages.
The author of this article was lucky enough to experience a lesson firsthand. The entire staff was courteous, efficient and professional, and the expert ski instructor, Alan, ensured that this wary skier could conquer lifts on my first day of lessons!
The beautiful thing about Stratton is the variety of terrain offered. Even novice skiers and snowboarders can enjoy the entire mountain, as even the easiest trails are accessible from the top of the mountain. For those more seasoned riders, Stratton has you covered there, too, with more challenging trails and glades all across the mountain.
Year-round community and summer revelations
Stratton Mountain’s charm extends well beyond winter, with summer unveiling different attractions. The golf course, designed by Geoffrey Cornish, and downhill mountain biking and hiking opportunities showcase the diverse outdoor experiences available. The village transforms into a peaceful retreat, offering residents and visitors alike a chance to appreciate the beauty of Vermont in a serene and spacious setting.
Another reason to come to Stratton in the warmer season is love. Stratton has its own wedding chapel and a history of hosting breathtaking weddings.
Future-forward snowmaking and sustainability
A leader of sustainability, Stratton Mountain has invested in cutting-edge snowmaking technology. In 2023, Stratton snowmaking teams installed 48 HKD SV10 R5 tower guns, replacing older, less efficient equipment. Energy-efficient snow guns have accelerated the snowmaking process and reduced water consumption, aligning with Stratton’s dedication to a consistent and reliable winter experience.
In 2021, Stratton signed on to a 20-year agreement to purchase energy produced by a new solar array in nearby Wallingford. Today, Stratton is among the leading Vermont ski areas in solar energy production.
Come visit today or anytime of year
Stratton Mountain stands as a testament to the evolving dynamics of winter recreation. Beyond its iconic slopes, the mountain has carved a niche for itself as a year-round destination, offering everyone a diverse range of activities and experiences. As we explore the village, the legacy of HOMESICK, and the latest additions, it becomes clear that Stratton Mountain isn’t just a ski resort — but a thriving community that embraces the essence of winter in all its forms.
Jennifer Brandt is a born and raised Vermonter and a recent Brooklyn transplant. She has worked as a freelance writer and event coordinator for the past decade focusing on food and Intersection with social justice issues. She has combined her passion for food and sustainable food systems with her Indigenous heritage by creating a series with MOFAD celebrating North American Indigenous folks in the food world. When not touring cities and the back roads of the Vermont countryside in search of the endless array of food and culture, you can find her taking Instagram photos of her rescue pup Bagel.