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Okemo as seen from Mount Ascutney
|Location||Ludlow, Vermont, USA|
|Nearest city||Londonderry, Vermont 12 miles (19 km) south, Rutland, Vermont 25 miles (40 km) northwest, Boston, Massachusetts 120 miles (190 km) southeast|
|Vertical||2,100 feet (640 m)|
|Top elevation||3,344 feet (1,019 m)|
|Base elevation||1,134 feet (346 m)|
|Skiable area||624 acres (253 ha)|
|Longest run||4.5 miles (7.2 km)|
|Lift system||12 chairs, 7 surface lifts|
|Snowfall||16.6 feet (5.1 m)|
|Web site||Okemo Mountain Resort|
Okemo Mountain Resort is a ski resort located in Ludlow, Vermont. Before becoming a popular ski resort destination, Ludlow was originally a mill town, and was the home of a General Electric plant until 1977. The resort experienced 600,000 skier visits in 2009. Parents Magazine rated it the Top US Family Snow Resort.
Okemo was founded in 1955 by a group of local businessmen. Operations officially began January 31, 1956, with four inches (102 mm) of snow and trails serviced by two Poma surface lifts. The lower poma cost 20 cents per ride, while the upper one cost 60 cents. The early 1960s saw the introduction of four more Pomas. In these years, Okemo had a reputation of operating with all Poma platter lifts, while other ski areas used double chair lifts to serve advanced ski terrain. The first chairlift, the Sachem double, was introduced in 1965. Along with all of these improvements, Okemo began to offer slopeside lodging starting in 1961. In 1963, Okemo purchased its first groomer, a Tucker Sno-Cat model. Snowmaking was first used, starting with the lower part of the mountain, in 1966.
The 1970s brought tough times for Okemo. There were fires, floods, and competition from the West. In 1982, the owners decided to sell the resort rather than go into bankruptcy. Tim and Dianne Mueller purchased the resort on August 2, 1982. While the resort was in danger of going bankrupt and the facilities were outdated, the Muellers wanted to preserve the historic feeling. They kept the name Okemo, which they claim is Native American for "All Come Home", although there is no evidence as to which Native American language this comes from. According to the scholarship of John C. Huden, the name means Chieftain in Chippewa and a louse in Abnaki. Certain trail names also continue to preserve this sentiment, such as Chief, Tomahawk, Wardance, Sachem, and Arrow, all of which are present on today's trail map.
Since 1982, Okemo has grown in many different ways. The facilities have been expanded in every aspect, including new chairlifts, trails, lodges, and snowmaking. Since purchasing Okemo, the Muellers have also acquired Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury, New Hampshire, and Mount Crested Butte in Crested Butte, Colorado.
On December 6, 2008, the Muellers sold Okemo, Crested Butte and Mount Sunapee to a REIT, CNL Lifestyle Properties in a lease-back deal valued at over 130 million dollars. CNL now owns the underlying assets of the resorts, while the Muellers continue to run the resorts as usual.
The base of Okemo stands at 1,144 feet (346 m) above sea level, and the summit is 3,344 feet (1,019 m). This gives Okemo the largest vertical drop in southern Vermont, 2,200 feet (670 m). The mountain has a total of 119 trails spread across 632 acres (2.56 km2) skiable terrain. Trail difficulty is almost evenly divided between novice, intermediate, and advanced/expert. A paved road that runs along the mountainside is used as a ski trail in the winter, making it Okemo's longest trail at 4.5 miles (7.2 km). Mountain Road can be driven during the summer and has parking spots for scenic viewing of the valley.
96% (605 acres) of the trail area is covered by snowmaking; one of the highest percentages in the East. The snowmaking pond has a total water capacity of 155 million gallons. In addition, the quality of the grooming is ranked sixth in the nation by SKI Magazine readers.
The trails built as each new part of the mountain have had some sort of theme, such as the Native American names on the main mountain and the astronomy-related names at the top of Jackson Gore. The following lists all of the trails by rating and name, alphabetically:
|Easier||More Difficult||Most Difficult||Most Difficult
(Use Extreme Caution)
|Bright Star Basin||Beeline||Black Out (m)||Big Bang (m)|
|Buckhorn||Blue Moon||Blind Faith (t)||Black Hole (g)|
|Bull Run||Boomerang||Challenger (n)||Broken Arrow (g)|
|Coleman Brook||Catnap (n)||Defiance||Double Diamond (g)|
|Day Break||Chute||Eclipse||Forrest Bump (g)|
|Dream Weaver||Countdown||Exhibition||Loose Spruce (g)|
|Easy Rider||Cutter's Folly||Fast Lane (n) (m)||Outrage (g)|
|Easy Street||Double Dipper||Ledges (m)||Rolling Thunder (n)|
|Escape||Drop Off||Lower Sel's||Supernova (g)|
|Expresso||Express Lane||Nor'Easter||White Lightning (n)|
|Fairway||French Connection (n)||Punch Line (m)|
|Fast Track||Heaven's Gate||Quantum Leap||Terrain Parks|
|Galaxy Bowl||Jolly Green Giant||Searle's Way (n)||AMP Energy Superpipe|
|Home Stretch||Line Drive||Sel's Choice (m)||Broken Arrow|
|Homeward Bound||Link||Side Kick (n)||Bounder Park|
|Inn Bound||Lower Chief||Stump Jumper||Hot Dog Hill|
|Jack-A-Lope||Lower Fall Line||The Plunge (m)||NASTAR Race Arena|
|Kettle Brook Trail||Lower Limelight||Triplesec (m)||Progression Park|
|Ledgewood Trail||Lower Tomahawk||Turkey Shoot||Super Park on Nor'Easter|
|Lift Line||Lower World Cup||Upper Chief||The Cross Park|
|Lower Arrow||Moment's Rest||Upper Fall Line||The Dew Zone|
|Lower Mountain Road||Moon Dog||Upper Limelight (m)|
|Mountain Road||Moonshadow||Upper Wild Thing (n) (m)|
|Open Slope||Off The Rim (n)||Upper World Cup|
|Sachem||Route 103||Wild Thing|
|Ski School Slope||Rum Run (n)|
|Spur Line||Screamin' Demon|
|Sun Dog||Side Out|
|Upper Mountain Road (n)||The Narrows (g)|
|Village Run||The Shadows (g)|
|Tree Dancer (g)|
|Whispering Pines (g)|
- (g) – gladed trail with trees
- (n) – natural trail without snowmaking (not including glades), although many of these are groomed after a snowfall to have a solid base
- (m) – trail with moguls regularly when conditions provide
See also: Okemo Trail Map
Okemo has 12 chairlifts, including five high-speed detachable quads, four fixed grip quad chairs, and three triples. There are seven surface lifts, of which five are carpets, one is a poma in the beginners' area, and one is a t-bar that takes riders to the top of the halfpipe. These lifts combined to give the mountain a total uphill capacity of 33,450 people per hour.
|Surface Lifts||Fixed Grip Triples||Fixed Grip Quads||High-Speed Quads|
|F-10 Carpet||Black Ridge Triple||Glades Peak Quad||Coleman Brook Express Quad|
|Orion's Belt Carpet||Green Ridge Triple||Sachem Quad||Jackson Gore Express|
|Skywalker Carpet||Morning Star Triple||South Ridge Quad A||Northstar Express Quad|
|Snow Stars Poma||South Ridge Quad B||Solitude Express Quad|
|Stargazer Carpet||South Face Express Quad|
South Ridge Quad B at the main base utilizes loading and unloading conveyors. This is the first unloading carpet to be used in the United States. The use of this system makes it easier for beginners to load and unload.
- Main Base Lodge: located at the base of South Ridge Quads A & B at the main entrance of the mountain, with daycare, ski shop, rentals, tickets, and food from the cafeteria, Caffé Origins, and the Sitting Bull Restaurant & Bar
- Jackson Gore Base Lodge: located at the base of the Jackson Gore area and Coleman Brook Express Quad, with daycare, ski shop, rentals, tickets, and food from the cafeteria, selling more specialties than the other lodges, and Siena restaurant on the second floor; also attached is hotel-like lodging and Coleman Brook Tavern restaurant
- Sugar House: located near the base of Northstar Express Quad, with many unique dining opportunities, including a deli, a grille, pizza, and a café
- Summit Lodge: located at the top of the main mountain, accessible from Northstar Express Quad, Green Ridge Triple, and Glades Peak Quad, with a cafeteria, bar, and Asian cuisine
- Solitude Day Lodge: located at the base of the Solitude area and Solitude Express Quad, with a full-service restaurant—Epic—and a small snack area
Skiing the mountain
There are four main areas at Okemo, each with at least one high speed detachable quad. The main mountain is serviced primarily by the Northstar Express Quad and two older fixed-grip triples. The 1,700-vertical-foot cruisers, such as Chief, World Cup, and Jolly Green Giant are accessed from the Northstar Express. When lift lines become crowded the Green Ridge Triple can be used to reach the top of the mountain instead, although it loads at the middle of the mountain. The main area also includes runs directed at more advanced skiers, such as Searle's Way, Sel's Choice, Nor'Easter Terrain Park, Defiance, and the Dew Zone (Mountain Dew sponsored halfpipe and snowboard park).
Solitude, to the right of the main mountain as one looks uphill, offers about 1,100 vertical feet. The Solitude area also has its own base lodge, hotel accommodations, and private trailside homes. Most of the trails in this area are intermediate cruisers, though some blacks exist, such as Exhibition and The Plunge.
The South Face area, to the left, has the highest peak on the mountain, faces the sun in the morning, and is served by a 1,100-foot (340 m) high-speed lift. This area is known for its more difficult terrain, including most of the double-black diamond trails. While some of the main thoroughfares are groomed nightly in this area, trails like Outrage and Forest Bump remain natural. There are also mogul trails in this area, such as Punch Line; Okemo marks its mogul trails. Okemo is also known for their bailout lanes, groomed sections on bump runs where one can escape from the moguls.
The final area, on the far right, is Jackson Gore, complete with its own access road, lodge, ski school, and most other amenities also found at the Base Lodge. This area, served by two high-speed quads, has some of the steeper terrain on the mountain, as well as the standard green and blue trails. Access from the main mountain is provided through Jackson Gore Junction, over a bridge onto Blue Moon. An alternative is Jack-a-lope or Moonshadow to Southern Crossing, although this goes to the base area only rather than the lift to the peak.
Okemo's fifth area and its smallest is Glades Peak, between the main mountain and the South Face, serviced by one fixed-grip quad. It provides access to most trails on the mountain, including a couple that are exclusively served by its lift.
The 2.9 mile (4.7 km) Healdville Trail for hikers starts at a small parking lot off Vermont Route 103 and ascends to the fire tower at the top of the mountain. Visitors can also drive up the mountain on the paved road known as the trail "Mountain Road" in the winter. There are lookout points to stop and take in the scenery along the way.
Across Route 103 sits the 18-hole, par-70 Okemo Valley golf course, rated the best public course in Vermont for 2006 by Golfweek. Run by Okemo, it is the first Heathland-style golf course built in Vermont. The whole course measures 6,400 yards (5,900 m) and hosts two events on the Vermont PGA Tour. Other amenities include a 12,000 ft (3,700 m)² year-round indoor training center, an 18-acre (73,000 m2) outdoor learning center, a clubhouse, a pro shop, and Yamaha gold carts. Adjacent to the course is Willie Dunn's Grille, a restaurant open every day during the summer and winter seasons (with breaks in between) for lunch and dinner. The Muellers also own Tater Hill Golf Club in Windham, Vermont, 22 miles (35 km) away from Ludlow.
In the 2010 Okemo opened up the Adventure Zone in the base of Jackson Gore. The Adventure Zone is a year round attraction which includes, The Timber Ripper, the first mountain coaster in Vermont, Lumberin' Cal's mini-golf, The Maples disk golf course and the Stump Jumper Bungee trampoline. New for the summer of 2012, the Canopy tour ziplines opened up for year round access.
During August 2006, the Muellers announced they were switching to wind power for the upcoming ski season at their three resorts, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, and Crested Butte. The Muellers have bought 27 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy certificates from Sterling Planet, through a contract with Gunnison County Electric Association in Colorado, for about 15% more money than they were paying previously. It is estimated that this will prevent 18,800 tons of carbon dioxide emissions on a yearly basis.
- Olmsted, Larry (January 22, 2010). "Families are comin' round this mountain". USA Today. pp. 7D.
- Szostak, Mike (January 29, 2006). "On the Slopes by Mike Szostak: Okemo has come a long way, baby". The Providence Journal. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
- "Accolades abound for Okemo Mountain Resort" (Press release). Okemo Mountain. October 8, 2008. Retrieved December 16, 2008.
- "Make Way for Loading & Unloading Carpets". Okemo Mountain. October 10, 2008. Retrieved October 19, 2008.
- Larkin, Daphne (August 19, 2006). "Okemo owners to switch to 'green' energy". Times Argus.
- Okemo Mountain Resort official site
- Okemo Mountain Stats & Facts
- Okemo's Historic Timeline
- Okemo trail map
- Okemo Mountain Reviews & Photos from Vermont Living Magazine
- Lodging on Okemo Mountain