Winter isn't quite through yet (it's 30 degrees out now as I write this) — you've still got all of March to get on up to southern Vermont (some Northerners refer to it as the banana belt) and squeeze in some outdoor winter fun before the '07/'08 winter sporting season draws to a close. Whether you're looking to do some downhill skiing, snowboarding, or just hang out in an authentic ski lodge, Bromley: Vermont's sun mountain, may be the ideal destination. But it just as easily may not, read on.
Located not too far from slightly more popular, slightly more sophisticated area destinations like Stratton and Okemo, Bromley is about 5 miles east of Manchester. 10 lifts service the 43 trails (covering 163 acres of Green Mountain National Forest) which are equally divided between beginner, intermediate and expert skill levels but, to be honest, you'll only be using the #1, Sun, and Blue Ribbon chairs if you want to reach the top.
Founded and designed by ski pioneer and beer heir Fred Pabst Jr. in 1936, Bromley is the only mountain in New England to offer southern, sun-drenched exposure. This is a decidedly family friendly destination, but it's not like a uniform national family friendly chain restaurant, it's more like a stalwart local spot that's a bit rough around the edges, sans frills. But if you prefer a more rustic, homey lodge built in the '30s (complete with an amazing original stone fireplace) to more modern glass enclosures with plenty of shopping options, than you are in luck. And it's a tad cheaper too: $63 for an adult weekend one-day ticket compared to $78 at nearby Stratton (and only $25 on weekdays).
My dad and I went two weeks ago, it's only about a 2 and a half hour drive from south central CT and we were geared up and ready to go by 10. It's important to note that the weather wasn't tops, fresh snow had been falling all morning and the grooming machines hadn't had an opportunity to smooth out the powder. The snowfall made for relatively difficult conditions, but it also kept the lift lines to a minimum. We never had to wait, the trails were completely uncrowded and hardly anyone was in the Boar's Nest, which was great! The downside was that by early afternoon we were finished, it's been a number of years since I've done any skiing and my legs were shot. I incorrectly assumed that I was still in peak physical shaped and would have no problem cutting my way through the fresh and deceptively dense unpacked snow, I was sorely mistaken.
In fact, I hadn't been skiing in so long, I was taken aback by the wild popularity of helmet wearing. When I was a kid serving time in ski school, only a real dorkasaurus with an embarrassingly over-protective mother would have worn a helmet (although it would have been acceptable if you were some kind of competitive athlete, but a civilian? out of the question). But the late '80s are more or less gone forever and I'm okay with that, especially since my skiing skills have declined considerably since then and I fell down on my helmeted head more than once.
Speaking of ski school, I can vouch for the quality of the program offered at Bromley. And it's adorable to see all these 7-year-old kids kitted out in full ski gear hop off chair lifts and speed down the mountain without the slightest bit of fear.
And even if you can't make the trip this winter, don't fret. The Alpine Slide, a crazy concrete track you slide down in a crazy plastic sled is how Bromley stays busy in the summertime. Check out the THRILL ZONE!