Mountain Creek

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For other uses, see Mountain Creek (disambiguation).
Mountain Creek
Mountain Creek New Jersey logo.png
A view of Vernon from the top of the Fox Tail Run at Mountain Creek
A view of Vernon from the top of the Fox Tail Run at Mountain Creek
Location Vernon Township, New Jersey
Nearest city New York City
Coordinates 41.181°N 74.513°W / 41.181°N 74.513°W / 41.181; -74.513 (Mountain Creek)
Top elevation 454 m (1490')
Base elevation 137 m (450')
Runs 44
Longest run Southern Sojurn (1881 m, 6170')
Lift system 9 total (1 gondola, 6 chairlifts,
2 magic carpets
Terrain parks 17 Terrain Park trails on South Peak, 1 Terrain Park at Vernon Peak
Snowfall 165cm/year (65")
Night skiing Yes

Mountain Creek is a ski resort in Vernon Township, New Jersey on Route 94, 47 miles (76 km) from the George Washington Bridge, making it the ski resort closest to New York City. It offers 167 skiable acres on four mountain peaks, complete night skiing/snowboarding, and an expansive snowmaking program.

Besides skiing and snowboarding, the resort offers one of the nation's largest snow tubing park, multiple zip-lines, and an alpine coaster. Mountain Creek is also home to a seasonal water park that operates from May to September.

Mountain Creek was owned and operated by Intrawest through May 2010, when it was sold to neighboring Crystal Springs Resort, creating the region's largest all-season vacation resort.


1965–71: Great Gorge Resort[edit]

Great Gorge Resort was founded in McAfee, an unincorporated area of Vernon Township, in 1965 by three families who worked at the now-closed Snow Bowl Ski Resort in Milton, New Jersey.

Mountain Creek's Bear and South Peaks were part of the original Great Gorge Resort, with the current South Base Ski Patrol building serving as the Base Lodge. The original lodge was designed by Alexander McIlvaine, who also designed the lodges at Stratton Mountain in Vermont and Squaw Valley in Olympic Valley, California. Great Gorge was the first ski area in the United States to use a jet engine to power their snow making operations.

In 1971, Great Gorge North was built on what is now Mountain Creek's Granite Peak, and a connecting trail was cut to connect Great Gorge North and the original resort, now renamed Great Gorge South. Great Gorge North was part of a master plan that included a never-built Olympic ski-jump and training facility.

Also in 1971, Playboy opened their $20 million, 650-room Great Gorge Playboy Club on 1,000 acres (400 ha) of land a mile away from Great Gorge. Plans for the Playboy Club included a casino and gondola from the hotel to the base at Great Gorge North, neither of which were ever built.

In late 1971, Great Gorge was foreclosed by their lender after a number of seasons that brought little snow to the resort. This reduced revenue and left the owners with little money to operate and to pay off their debts.

1971–97: Vernon Valley/Great Gorge[edit]

In 1968, Vernon Valley Ski Resort opened to the north of Great Gorge. After the foreclosure of Great Gorge South & Great Gorge North, they were sold to Vernon Valley, who merged the four ski areas forming the Vernon Valley/Great Gorge Resort (VVGG).

In 1974, VVGG was purchased by Great American Recreation (GAR), who invested in a large amount of snowmaking equipment, which allowed the new resort to avoid the fate of the original Great Gorge. In 1978, VVGG opened Action Park, a seasonal amusement park with over 75 rides and attractions including 40 water slides, bungee jumping, go karts, bumper boats, and mini golf.

During the 1980s, Coblestone Village, a small shopping and dining village, was built. The decade also saw the development of Great Gorge Village, a condo development with hundreds of luxury housing units, and The Spa at Great Gorge, a 4-star luxury resort and spa complete with an 18-hole golf course and a number of indoor and outdoor swimming pools. VVGG continued to upgrade their skiing operations, installing a number of new lifts, including a triple chairlift in 1981.

In the early 1990s, VVGG suffered poor attendance and poor management which led the Great Gorge Resort on a downward spiral. Great American Recreation's stock was traded through shady investment fronts and behind the scenes. Eventually, the stock collapsed and in 1995 GAR filed for bankruptcy. In 1996, only Vernon Valley opened, with Great Gorge North and South closed due to the bankruptcy. Before the 1997 season, GAR shut down Vernon Valley/Great Gorge and Action Park.

In 1998, the remaining assets of Great American Recreation were divided and sold. Eugene Mulvihill, Sr. retained control of the Great Gorge golf and hotel area of the resort, which was renamed Crystal Springs Resort. The four ski areas and Action Park were sold to Intrawest, a Canadian-based owner and operator of ski resorts.

The 2000s: Mountain Creek under Intrawest[edit]

The Appalachian as seen from The Cabriolet Gondola February 23, 2008

Intrawest renamed its holdings Mountain Creek and began pouring money into its new investment to refurbish the resort. Intrawest removed 11 of the 13 lifts, replacing them with a high speed 8-passenger open air gondola, known as The Cabriolet, along with 2 high speed quad chairlifts, and multiple fix grip chairs, all built by Doppelmayr. The Great Gorge Lodge, which hadn't been refurbished in nearly 30 years, underwent a major renovation, and was renamed South Lodge. Intrawest also made investments in the mountain's snowmaking, installing more than 1,600 new snow guns throughout the mountain . The new resort opened in December 1998. Intrawest also began construction on Action Park, removing all of the amusement rides except for the Alpine Slide and Bungee Tower, as well as the Motorworld section of the park, and began work on the Waterworld section of the park. The expanded water park reopened as Mountain Creek Waterpark in the summer of 1998.

Intrawest drafted a master plan for the resort, whose centerpiece was an expansive residential and shopping village, a staple of Intrawest resorts. Included in the village plans were a conference center, hotels, condos, townhouses, shops, and restaurants. On the mountaintop was to be a golf course surrounded by a hotel and condos. This mountaintop development was scrapped however, as the land that it was located on was sold by the State of New Jersey to Mountain Creek's previous owners, Great American Recreation, with a deed restriction that stated that the land was to be used only for passive recreation, such as fishing, hiking, and camping. Intrawest then sold the land back to the state for 7 million dollars and permission to expand skiing on portions of the mountain where it was previously prohibited.[1]

On October 10, 1999, the 31-year-old Vernon base lodge was destroyed by a fire just weeks before the 1999/2000 ski season. A temporary complex of prefabricated tents was quickly constructed in order to continue operations for the upcoming season. The tent complex included a food court, restaurant and bar, and numerous rental and retail shops. While Intrawest originally planned to replace the complex after one year, plans for a new base lodge were put on hold for an unspecified reason. The tent complex remained operational through the 2010–11 ski season before being replaced by a permanent lodge.

In 2002, Mountain Creek opened the first phase of their master-planned resort village, Black Creek Sanctuary, a luxury condo community. In winter 2003, construction began on The Appalachian, a luxury condominium and hotel built on the former parking lot of Vernon base. Parking was moved to the former location of Action Park's amusement ride and bumper boat area, across the street from the main base area. The hotel opened for the 2006–07 season.

The Chevy U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix was held at Mountain Creek in both 2004 and 2005. The centerpiece of this event was Mountain Creek's Superpipe, one of the only superpipes in the east. The Superpipe went quiet after this. For summer 2006, Intrawest opened the Diablo Mountain Bike Park on Vernon Peak, which featured numerous downhill trails serviced by the Cabriolet gondola.

Mountain Creek opened their 2007–08 winter sports season with a few notable changes to the trail map. The eastern side of Vernon Peak, which used to be home to their freestyle terrain park, was converted into intermediate slopes. The entire Mountain Creek South area (South Peak and Bear Peak) was converted to freestyle terrain. All slopes off those peaks are intermediate trails with additional ratings for the kind of freestyle terrain from small to extra large. Additionally, a long intermediate trail off the Granite Peak, called Granite View, was closed. Minor changes were also made in the dining structure, including replacement of the one-time-use rental lockers with a more compact bag-check station.

In 2008, Intrawest representatives stated that during the previous two years Intrawest and the resort industry in general experienced a significant softening of the real estate market, which included Mountain Creek, and Intrawest could not commit to completing the village.[2]

2010: Mountain Creek becomes part of Crystal Springs Resort[edit]

Intrawest sold Mountain Creek to the adjacent Crystal Springs Resort in May 2010, returning the entire resort to its previous ownership. the new owners immediately went to work on improving the mountain replacing the tent-complex at vernon with a new lodge which opened in time for the 2011/12 ski season. A three story building, it contains the new offices, bars, fine dining restaurant, food court, rental and locker facilities, and an outdoor patio.

In summer 2012, Mountain Creek continued improvement plans, opening a new zip line course at the mountain top lake above Vernon Peak and an Alpine coaster on the lower mountainside near the waterpark. For that winter, the resort expanded and relocated their tubing park across the street, renaming it the Dropzone. The Diablo Mountain Bike Park was also transferred to company control and thus renamed Mountain Creek Bike Park.

In 2010, Sojourn Double, the chairlift that transported people from South to Granite Peak, has been retired after 40 years of service. A new fixed grip double chairlift was installed and opened in time for the 2012–2013 season. The new lift has replaced plans for a new trail that would have connected the South peak to Granite peak.

Future of Mountain Creek[edit]

Crystal Springs Resort purchased Mountain Creek in May 2010, returning the entire resort to its previous ownership. The acquisition creates one of the region's largest and most comprehensive four-season resort destinations. Spanning 5 miles (8 km) through four townships (Vernon, Hardyston, Hamburg, and Franklin), the combined resorts fill the Vernon Valley region with 15,000 acres (6,100 ha) of, year-round amenities including seven golf courses, spas, hotels, an 80,000-bottle wine cellar, ski and snowboard venues, a waterpark, and mountain bike park.

While still preliminary, Crystal Springs' plans include a rainforest-themed indoor water park hotel, a base area village with entertainment, dining and retail, as well as a "Main Street" with venues such as artisan food makers, a winery, brew pub, cheese maker, ice creamery, bakery, chocolatier, and more. Also contemplated are several internationally branded resort hotels. On the recreational menu are other mountain outdoor play elements such as mountain luge, zip lines, and lift-accessed water slides as well as a renewed focus on festivals and entertainment.

Mountain Creek today[edit]


  • Vernon Peak
    • Vertical: 1,040 feet (320 m)
    • Base elevation: 440 feet (130 m)
    • Summit elevation: 1,480 feet (450 m)
  • Granite Peak
    • Vertical: 848 feet (258 m)
    • Base: 600 feet (180 m)
    • Summit: 1,448 feet (441 m)
  • South Peak
    • Vertical: 1,000 feet (300 m)
    • Base: 450 feet (140 m)
    • Summit: 1,450 feet (440 m)
  • Bear Peak
    • Vertical: 630 feet (190 m)
    • Base: 450 feet (140 m)
    • Summit: 1,080 feet (330 m)


  • 44 trails
  • 16 miles (26 km) total
  • 100% lighted
    • 7 beginner trails
    • 24 intermediate trails (14 of which are terrain park trails)
    • 8 advanced trails (4 of which are terrain park trails)
    • 1 expert trail

Mountain Creek Terrain Parks[edit]

  • 63 rideable acres
  • 18 total freestyle terrain park trails
  • 47% total skiable area is terrain parks
  • Up to 80 features installed peak season

Dropzone Snow Tubing Park[edit]

  • 30 tubing lanes
  • 180 tubes
  • 1 tubing lift
  • lighted for night tubing
  • One of the largest in North America


Lift Name Type Manufacturer Installed
The Cabriolet 8 Passenger detachable open-air gondola Doppelmayr 1998
Sugar Quad Fixed-grip quad chairlift Partek 1998
Sojourn Double Fixed-grip double chairlift Partek 2012
Vernon Triple Fixed-grip triple chairlift Borvig 1981
South Peak Express Detachable quad chairlift Doppelmayr 1998
Bear Peak Express Detachable quad chairlift Doppelmayr 1998
Granite Quad Fixed-grip quad chairlift Doppelmayr 1998

9 total lifts

  • 1 eight-passenger detachable gondola
  • 2 high-speed detachable quads
  • 2 fixed grip quads
  • 1 fixed grip triple
  • 1 fixed grip double
  • 2 magic carpet surface lifts


  • 100% trail coverage
  • 1,000 snow guns

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brown, Matthew (April 1, 20024). "The Bergen Record; N.J. buying back land from builder". The Record (Woodland Park, NJ). Retrieved March 11, 2009.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Martin, Antoinette (January 6, 2008). "Condo Confections Hit a Snag". New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2009. 

External links[edit]