The 2000-foot tall Stratton Mountain (5 Village Lodge Rd., Stratton Mountain, 800/787-2886, www.stratton.com , $72–79 adult, $63–69 youth, $56–59 children) signals the beginning of big-mountain skiing, just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Boston . Accessibility doesn’t come cheap, however—weekend lift ticket prices are among the highest in New England. For snowboarders, at least, it’s worth the price. The sport was invented by a Stratton bartender in the 1980s, and five terrain parks and the annual US Open Snowboarding Championships continue to keep boarders busy.
The smaller and cheaper Ascutney Mountain Resort (Rte. 44, Brownsville, 800/243-0011, www.ascutney.com , $55 weekend/$52 weekday adults; $40/$37 students and seniors, free children under 7), bills itself as a “family” skiing resort. It offers a range of programs to keep tykes busy while you tackle the diamonds.
An object lesson in capitalism run amok can be found at Mount Snow Resort (39 Mount Snow Rd., West Dover, 800/245-7669, www.mountsnow.com , 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat. and Sun., $69–75 adults, $56–64 young adults 13–18, $45–52 seniors and students 6–12), which is chaotic, expensive, and often overcrowded. The resort’s proximity to New York  (a three- or four-hour drive depending on traffic) has given it a reputation for being favored by rowdy out-of-towners. If you enjoy skiing in a party atmosphere, however, the mountain’s four faces will give you plenty to tackle, especially for intermediate skiers. The best bet is to get away from the main lodge as quickly as possible and head for the more out-of-the-way chairlifts, such as the steeper North Face.
Cross-country skiers will find plenty of well-groomed terrain at the Grafton Ponds (802/843-2400, www.graftonponds.com , 9 a.m.–4 p.m. daily, $12–18 adults, $10–14 seniors, $4 youth/student, children under 5 free), a skiing center featuring snowmaking over 2,000 acres of rolling fields and woodlands. The park converts to a biking center during the warmer months, when it rents mountain bikes (half days $20–30 adults, $20 children; whole days $30–40 adults, $25 children).