It used to be you couldn’t swing a cat in Vermont without hitting a ski hill (not something I’d recommend, by the way). Sadly, that’s no longer the case. According to The New England Lost Ski Area Project (NELSAP), there are 111 closed ski areas throughout the state. As for the smaller areas that remain, well, it’s easy to ignore them as you rush down the road to the bigger resorts like Stratton, Killington, Okemo, and Stowe.
But that’d be a mistake. Granted, they might lack the high speed lifts or the fancy amenities of the larger areas. But the smaller mountains have a charm all their own. The skiing’s a blast, lift tickets are generally cheaper, and they’re great places for family skiing (I lie — they’re great places for just about everyone).
So after years and years of driving past Bromley on my way somewhere else and saying, “Oh, that’d be a fun place to ski,” I finally went ahead and tried it. And I’m glad I did.
Bromley Mountain in Peru, Vermont, has been there for what seems like forever. Founded in 1936 by Fred Pabst Jr., the son of the founder of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, Bromley is known as the Sun Mountain because unlike most ski areas, it faces south so it gets the sun when others don’t. If you’ve ever skied at Stratton, you can see it shining like a beacon across the valley (why aren’t I skiing over there?) while you’re stuck in a cold, gray day.
Not so during my visit. It snowed like crazy and from time to time, we had a near white out. The upside: boot high powder, fantastic conditions, zero crowds, and loads of fun.
Did I say zero crowds? It didn’t look that way when I first entered the lodge at 8:30 on a Monday morning. The Vermont High School State Championships were underway, and the old-style lodge was packed with teenagers putting on their gear. This cleared out within half an hour or so, and really, I didn’t see them for the rest of the day.
Bromley isn’t huge. It stands at the west side of a valley ringed by Stratton on one side and Magic on the other. On a sunny day, you can get fantastic views from the peak. The mountain is also on Vermont’s Long Trail, which is hiking trail that extends the entire length of the state, a favorite among hikers during the warmer months.
But more about the skiing: while the vertical isn’t as high as some of bigger resorts, you can easily have just as much fun. There’s a nice mix of terrain with everything from good, long cruisers to glades and bump runs. Even better, it’s easy to navigate. All the trails end up at the same place — in front of the base lodge. So it’s easy to meet up with friends, and hard for kids to get lost.
Granted, the lifts aren’t super fast. If you’re looking for a gondola or a bubble lift, you’re going to have to go elsewhere. It’s a slower pace, and yeah, for a lot of people, that can be a drawback. But what you’re getting in return is a more old-style Vermont ski experience. And there’s a lot to be said for that.
Here are some stats:
- Number of Lifts: 9
- High-speed quads: 1
- Quad chairs: 1
- Double chairs: 4
- Surface lifts: 3
- Uphill Lift Capacity: 10,806 skiers per hour
- On Mountain Lodging: Bromley Village and Sun Lodge
- Base: 1,950 feet
- Summit: 3,284 feet
- Vertical drop: 1,334 feet
- Longest run: 2.5 miles – Runaround
- Snowmaking: 86%
- Types of runs
- Beginner: 32%
- Intermediate: 37%
- Advanced: 31%
Bromley also has a learning center that features Terrain Based Learning, of which I’m a huge fan (you can read my posts about it here and here). TBL uses natural features that allow students to focus on the movements, sensations, and body positions that form the basis of good skiing. Basically, it eliminates the traditional anxieties so learners can spend less time learning how to stop, and more time learning how to go.
Does the fun stop at the off season? At Bromley, no. The mountain has a Mountain Adventure Park with all sorts of fun stuff in the summer: an alpine slide, an aerial adventure park with ropes, ziplines, and bridges spread across the tree canopy, and
So if you’re in Vermont, should you race past Bromley on your way to bigger mountains? If you do, you’ll be missing out on a really fun day. I’m only sorry I didn’t discover it sooner.