The Best Low-Budget Private Ski Areas

The Best Low-Budget Private Ski Areas


The Best Low-Budget Private Ski Areas


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When you hear “Private Ski Resort”, do you imagine Bogner clad members of the 0.01% climbing out of their Gulfstream Jets? High profile private resorts certainly have this image. For instance, the Yellowstone Club’s upfront cost, rumored to be $250,000 plus the purchase of a multi-million dollar mountainside home, isn’t exactly feasible on a ski bum budget.

This post is about a different type of private ski area. Admit it you’ve thought about throwing up a rope tow on a neighbored hill, these guys actually did it! So ditch the Gulfstream for a pick-up truck, trade the Bogner one-piece for some Carhartts, and come take a tour through four of the coolest private ski areas in the United States.

Pete’s Mountain

Rope Tow

This is not Petes Mountain (Just A Homemade Rope Tow) | Photo Credit: MsBarrows via Flickr Creative Commons

Deep in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Pete (last name intentionally withheld) and his family run a private ski hill on their family farm. With the assistance of a tractor powered rope tow, skiers have been descending Pete’s mountain for the last 51 years. There is no lodge, no grooming, and no snowmaking, just a rope tow, a hill, and nature. The mountain is open to Pete’s family and friends. As far as we can tell, membership is free. If Pete needs help maintaining his hill, friends and family are expected to come do their fair share. 

Timber Ridge

Timber Ridge

No Crowds (or Private Jets) at this Private Ski Area

Nestled on the back side of Vermont’s Magic Mountain, Timber Ridge is a 900 vertical foot private ski area. Timber Ridge was once part of Magic, but was abandoned when Magic ceased operation in the early 1990s. When Magic Mountain re-opened in 1997, it was decided that reopening Timber Ridge would not be feasible due to a lack of lift infrastructure. As a result, the ski area remained fallow.

In the year 2000, Tim Waker purchased Timber Ridge at a tax auction. Since purchasing the property, Mr. Waker has renovated the lodge, reclaimed overgrown trails, and purchased a groomer. In the summer of 2013, the National Geographic show “Building Wild” built a summit cabin.

The ski area has no lift service. However, a VAST (Vermont Access Snowmobile Trail) trail runs from the bottom of the ski hill to the summit and is open to the public. This trail provides sled access to the summit. Typically, one or two top to bottom trails are partially groomed, providing various runs for all abilities. It’s not uncommon to see local parents shuttling their families up the hill, for run after run of uncrowded fun.

Mt. Greylock Ski Club

Mt. Greylock

Photo Credit:

 Mount Greylock Ski Club’s High Speed Lifts & Multi-Hundred Dollar Slope-side Accommodations

Located in South Williamstown, Massachusetts the Mt. Greylock Ski Club has been operating since 1937! Nestled into the side of Massachusetts highest mountain (elevation 3,491ft), the Mount Greylock Ski Club sports two rope tows serving 17 trails and 350 vertical feet. A groomer maintains the all-natural snow, and a small wood stove heated cabin helps keep the members warm.

During the Ski Club’s glory days, a period between 1940 and 1970, General Electric was a major employer in the region. Strong local employment provided the club with over 1,000 members and a multi-year waiting list. However, by the 1970’s the club began to face competition from nearby Jiminy Peak and Brodie Mountain. Today membership stands around 150 and costs $60 for an individual and $120 for a family.

Editor’s note: As you might expect, many private ski areas don’t advertise or want attention. If you know of any we missed, let us know. If you’d prefer we never find your hidden gem, that’s cool too.

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