Four pulse-pounding vacation adventures

Summer vacation can be a great time to try something new. Something that tests your limits a bit and makes your pulse pound. At Smugglers’ Notch, you’ll find adventures that send you high into the air. You’ll also find adventures that take you onto trails and into waterfalls, and adventures that send you rolling, bumping and jumping along the ground. Check out four of our favorite pulse pounders. Then start planning your Vermont summer adventures!

ArborTrek TreeTop Obstacle Course

treetop obstacle courseOn ArborTrek’s TreeTop Obstacle Course, you’ll slide, balance, jump, crawl, climb, dash and swing as you make your way along a course through the trees. This self-guided adventure through more than 80 elements offers challenges that test a participant’s strength, balance, and agility. A course with 3 height levels of challenges, plus a course with challenges for ages 4 and older, deliver a memorable experience for all ages.


flyboardingTry the newest thrilling water sport – Flyboarding. The Flyboard elevates you using water jet propulsion technology. Instructors will show you how to control your movement by tilting your feet, bending your knees, and shifting your body weight to fly over Bootleggers’ Basin reservoir at Smugglers’. The reviews from Flyboarding’s inaugural summer 2015 season: amazing, and great fun!

Mountain biking

mountain biking skills parkMake this the summer you learn to mountain bike! Modeled on the learning experience provided by Smugglers’ ski and ride school, the Mountain Bike Center  at Smugglers’ offers camps, clinics and special sessions such as guided tours for all ages and abilities. Hone your skills on a pump track or in beginner and intermediate level skills parks. Beginner, intermediate and single track trails can be found on property, with an extensive network of additional trails within an easy drive.

Via Ferrata

via ferrata canyoneeringExperience some of Vermont’s most unique natural environments using rope bridges, rappelling, and other techniques. Professional guides instruct you in canyoneering and rock climbing skills in outings that take place around, above, and in some of the most scenic chasms and waterfalls in northern Vermont. Be prepared to get wet! Via Ferrata is fun for kids and adults.

Two tips for success in a new experience:

  • Think about the physical capabilities of your family members when choosing a new adventure. Everyone will have more fun exploring an activity that is well matched to their abilities.
  • Check your chosen activity’s age, height, and weight requirements and ensure everyone meets those requirements.

Experiencing adventures as a family can be a great bonding experience as you help each other learn new skills and excel in a new activity. A real sense of self-confidence and achievement comes with getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new.

Visit to find plenty more adventures!

Family ties Smuggs-style

Family vacation fun at Smugglers' Notch

We are the champions … in Kerplunk

Family Ties are the long-running and ever popular activities at Smugglers’ that bring families together in a way that can be, well, sort of goofy. Like, sure-to-start-some-teenage-eye-rolling goofy.  And I-would-never-do-this-at-home goofy.

So what’s with the “all in” on goofy fun? Simply, Smugglers’ is a goofy fun permissive kind of place – after all, you’re on vacation, right? So folks jump into playing a game of Giant Tic Tac Toe … competitively. Or painstakingly creating a Big Air Derby “vehicle” out of cardboard and duct tape – LOTS of duct tape – only to launch their family’s creation off a jump and cheer wildly for it to win biggest crash.

And here’s the thing – the eye-rollers and nay-sayers get over themselves and end up loving Family Ties. Take our word for it. Hey, we’ve seen the tattered remains of Big Air Derby creations strapped to family roadsters on check-out day.

Mixed in with the simple fun is what’s best about Family Ties – the family time together. Sharing a few laughs. Relaxing. Racking up the memories. That’s truly what it’s all about.

Last summer, we made a good thing even better. Our ace Activities and Summer Fun University staff spent a lot of time expanding Family Ties. From a once-a-day offering, now you can find some sort of family activity any time between 10:00 am and 7:00 pm, every day of the week. We figure a 10:00 am start gives everyone time to sleep in (got that, kids?), eat a healthy breakfast, and then jump right into the fun.

A few choice action verbs simplify the Family Ties concept: Create. Explore. Learn. Play.

Create. Create a memento, create a memory in a craft session. Make sock puppets that represent each member of the family. Or your favorite actor or actress. Or the family pet. The possibilities are endless with glue, feathers, yarn, fabric, and buttons. Or there’s Awesome Arts & Crafts, which offers a project that each family member can enjoy, all ages welcome. There’s tie dye, too. Plentiful opportunities for creating, and everyone’s un artiste. No critics allowed.

Explore. Make our mountains your own. Follow a guide who leads you to the old stomping grounds of the town of Sterling, first settled in the late 18th century. Watch for remnants of the town in the woods and imagine being among the early settlers in this rugged area. Another option for exploration: prowl the resort village as a team in a family scavenger hunt that has you solving clues in a Smuggs-style version of a certain popular tv show. Got little ones? Search for frogs and tadpoles in our Village Reservoir while hearing all about local ecosystems from a guide.

Learn. Jump into some information accumulation or acquire a new skill. How is maple syrup made? What’s the difference between a turtle and tortoise? If the inquiring minds in your family want answers, check out our walks, hikes and Creature Feature session that unveil the mysteries and magic of nature. Another option – get an intro to a new sport. Anyone up for tennis, disc golf, paddle boarding or mountain biking?

Play. Has anyone ever said, “I’ve played too much”? Nope. Choose family kickball, soccer, or volleyball, all down at our newest recreational facility, Bootlegger’s Basin. You can make a day of play there – pack a picnic, take a refreshing swim in the reservoir, toss some horseshoes. In the Village, life-size games are a favorite; Hungry Hungry Humans and life-size foosball are the latest – crazy wacky fun.

Create, explore, learn, play. The activities mentioned are just a sampling. Because there’s much, much more to enjoy, might we suggest a few tips to help guide your Family Ties fun?

Tip 1 – If your schedule allows, stop by the Courtyard Kickoff Sunday evenings at 6:30 pm. Our Activities and Summer Fun University staff are there each week to answer questions and help you plan your stay.

Tip 2 – Refer to the Resort Information Guide for the full outline of activities.

Tip 3 – If you have questions, swing by the Activities Desk. The friendly staff there will be happy to answer your questions, direct you to a Family Ties meeting place, or sign you up for any activity that requires advance registration.

Get the day-by-day scoop on family activities

May your Family Ties enhance your family ties!

Salt water pools at Smugglers’ Notch Vermont


Splashing in the pool and taking a trip down the waterslide are highlights of the summer season. But for many water lovers, eye irritation is an unfortunate byproduct of pool time, caused by traditional chlorine sanitization methods used in swimming pools.  At the primary pool complexes at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, swimmers have said goodbye to red eye. With swimmer comfort and safety top of mind, Village Center pool facilities have transitioned to salt water chlorination.

Unfamiliar with salt water chlorination? For swimmers, pool water treated with a salt water chlorine generation system has some benefits over traditional chlorine sanitization. Salt water chlorination is less irritating on the eyes and softer on the skin. It also won’t fade or damage swim suits. And it provides a more comfortable experience for swimmers with asthma, allergies, or chemical sensitivities. At one tenth to one twelfth the concentration of salt in ocean water, it even increases swimmer buoyancy.

There are environmental, safety and resource management bonuses, too. Conversion from chlorine allows Smugglers’ pool managers to reduce storage of this hazardous chemical on site. Also, the salt water system is regenerative, which creates less waste – and that translates into savings.

Here’s how the process works:

First, salt is dissolved in the water. The salt used is standard sodium chloride, the same salt you’d have in your shaker at home. The water passes through a salt cell which generates a chemical reaction that creates enough chlorine to keep the pool disinfected. Eventually, the reaction slows down and the molecules revert back to their original forms, becoming salt and water again. This reduces the need to add salt on a regular basis, and because chlorine is generated within the water, there is better consistency of sanitization.

Smugglers’ primary water complexes have been converted to salt water chlorination. These include the Mountainside lap pool and lagoon, the Courtside pool and hot tubs, and the Notchville pools. Feedback from guests is extremely positive, with many folks remarking on the softer skin feel of the water and asking questions about installation for their own pools at home.

Pools serving individual neighborhoods at the resort are also part of the conversion. The West Hill community’s pool is expected to be fully converted by mid June in time for the resort’s summer season kick off.

Out of 537,600 gallons of pool water at the resort, approximately 464,100 gallons are disinfected using the salt system, notes resort aquatics manager Tara Snow. Snow adds that the goal is to achieve full conversion by 2017, so that resort guests will enjoy the benefits of salt water chlorination at all their favorite splash and swim spots at Smugglers’.

Celebrating maple sugaring season in Vermont

Vermont maple syrup

Whether you’re visiting Vermont in early spring for a ski trip or to enjoy one of the many other attractions our state offers to visitors, be sure to sweeten your visit with maple!

Vermont’s maple season kicks off when warming temperatures in late winter and early spring encourage the sap to begin running in maple trees. The sap exits through a taphole in the tree and is then collected by sugarmakers for boiling. As you travel around our state you’ll see the billowing white clouds of steam that are the telltale sign of a bustling sugarhouse.

Many sugarhouses welcome visits, and learning about maple sugaring can be a fascinating and educational experience for families. How does maple tree sap become delicious syrup? You’ll get the answer to that question and more during a sugarhouse tour!

A few tips to consider prior to your sugarhouse visit:

Visit a variety of sugarhouses. There are both small scale and large scale producers of maple syrup and other maple products in Vermont, and seeing both ends of the spectrum – as well as an “in between” producer – can be quite interesting.

Mind your maple manners. Sugarhouses that are open to the public typically welcome visitors of all ages. Keep in mind that a sugarhouse is a working environment, and care should be taken around functioning equipment. Sugarhouses may have their own individual guidelines, and your sugarmaker host will be happy to provide guidance to support your visit.

Pack appropriate clothing and footwear. Weather in Vermont can be changeable in early spring. Be sure to check the forecast and dress accordingly. Layers can be conveniently shed when you go from the outdoors into a warm sugarhouse. Many sugarhouses are in rural countryside settings – sturdy warm and waterproof footwear is a must for comfort.

While sugarhouse tours offer a unique experience for visitors to Vermont, there are plenty of other maple sweetened opportunities to consider:

Enjoy sampling! Maple is much more than syrup. When planning your Vermont visit, visit shops, wineries, and breweries with a maple specialty. Maple spirits, maple flavored chocolates and popcorn, maple cookies … the list goes on and it’s all delicious. You’ll even find maple as an ingredient in treatments offered by spas!

Look for events you might enjoy. Vermont’s celebration of maple encompasses many events, such as the statewide Maple Open House Weekend April 2 and 3 and smaller events hosted by businesses or towns. Big or small, these activities are all unique celebrations of our state’s heritage.

Smugglers’ Notch Resort will be celebrating Vermont’s maple sugaring season with a MapleFest Celebration from March 19 through April 3, 2016. Complimentary activities include a weekly carnival with sugar on snow and a maple-infused specialty foods and spirits tasting, visits to a local sugarhouse and dining specialties enhanced by maple. Children will receive a maple themed activity book. The resort’s lodging packages feature SuperSaver rates during this time period, the lowest rates of the season. You’ll find details at

Vermont maple

Everyone’s favorite treat during Vermont’s maple season – sugar on snow!

3 reasons to plan a family ski vacation for spring

Spring Skiing Vermont

Considering a spring family vacation? Here are three reasons why a ski vacation should be your family’s first choice this spring.


Mountain trails in spring typically have great conditions for learning or expanding skiing and snowboarding skills. “Spring’s softer snow conditions contribute to a great learning experience,” points out Smugglers’ ski school director Harley Johnson. “Soft spring snow is easier to carve turns on and more forgiving of spills.”

Johnson adds, “There are typically fewer skiers and riders on the slopes, which may contribute to a more relaxed learning environment for you, particularly if you’re new to skiing or snowboarding. Plus, you don’t have the distraction of  mid winter’s colder temperatures, and you’re not as bundled up so you’re able to move more freely.”


The lowest rates of the season can be found in spring. Typically, vacation package rates for a spring ski vacation are much lower than the rates for a heart of winter getaway. SuperSaver rates on vacation packages at Smugglers’ are in effect from mid-March through early April and run about 15 percent lower than height of season rates. Comprehensive packages that include lodging, lift tickets, and some amenities offer the best value.


The combination of snowsports and spring’s warmer weather create a party vibe. From parking lot barbecues to pond skimming contests, there’s definitely a celebratory atmosphere on the ski slopes in spring. Many events cater to skiers’ and riders’ inclination to linger and enjoy the feeling of community. It’s worth checking ski destination events calendars to see what’s planned – you might find a “don’t miss” event that’s perfect for your family. And with spring’s longer days, you have the opportunity to pack in loads of events and activities!

Spring skiing and riding are all about celebrating the joys of snowsports with the sun on your face and that hint of the changing season in the air. Imagine the pleasure of kicking off next winter’s snowsports season with your spring ski vacation memories still fresh in your mind!

5 simple tips to start your family ski day smoothly

Family Ski Tips

Does morning mayhem prevent your family’s ski day from starting smoothly? Harley Johnson, an avid skier who is director of Smugglers’ Notch Resort’s award-winning Snow Sport University, shares tips based on her own experience raising three children who are enthusiastic fans of snow sports.

“That time together on the slopes is what skiing families value. But many parents tell me that the beginning of a ski day can be a bit daunting, as they organize their young children and their gear,” says Johnson. She believes that the secret to a smooth start to the day is in the preparation you do ahead of time. “I learned to be as organized as possible before leaving the house,” she laughs.

Johnson shares the following five tips to fine tune your family’s ski day preparation:

  • Pack snacks for the ride home because your children are likely to be tired and hungry at the end of the day. This is a good idea whether you ski at an area near your home or are heading “home” to lodging at a vacation destination.
  • If your drive is a short one, dress your kids in their ski boots, helmets and ski wear before leaving the house. If your drive is long, suit up your children once you arrive at your destination so that they don’t overheat or feel uncomfortable in the car.
  • Pack a sled in the car so that upon arrival, you can load extra gear and small children into the sled. To securely little passengers and gear, a plastic sled with sides is best. Adults should change into their ski boots and load up the sled prior to getting children out of the car. (At Smugglers’, complimentary wagons are available at the rental shop for toting kids and gear.)
  • Ski poles can be hard to keep in a sled because they are lightweight and tend to slide out easily. Teach kids to carry their own poles safely with a pole in each hand or with both poles held together in one hand –  but always pointy end down!
  • Encourage kids to carry their own skis. Even kids as young as 3 can carry their skis for a short distance – and each time they carry them, the distance is likely to get longer. To carry their own skis, have your child hold their arms out in front of them at a comfortable level, then lay the skis across their arms. This is the easiest way for young children to carry their skis.

Johnson and her kids love to head to the mountain to enjoy time together on her days off from managing the resort’s ski and snowboard instruction. The family is increasingly reaping the benefits of their ski day preparations. Johnson says, “As the kids have grown older, they have become more independent, and what they have learned over the years has contributed to us all enjoying the ski experience together.”

Click here to learn more about introducing your child to snowsports!

Have you fine tuned your family’s ski day preparation? We welcome your tips in a comment.

Ski school stories: My best day

Ski lesson Smugglers' Notch Vermont

Last winter we asked a few of our ski and snowboard instructors to share a story about their best day supporting a snowsports student. Their replies show that the word “lesson” really doesn’t do justice to the experience. Sure, the lesson is about learning or improving on skills, and that in itself is exciting. But their stories showed that a lesson can be about fulfillment, exploration, challenge, independence, creativity, friendship and more – all good stuff!

Here is ski instructor Sherm White’s “best day” story:

My private lesson student Jane had skied Smugglers’ before, so we headed up Sterling for the first run. On the lift, we talked about her reasons for taking a lesson. It appeared that she had a low opinion of her skiing, and her main goal was to feel more comfortable skiing with her family and friends on the more difficult terrain that they liked to ski.

We went down intermediate level Black Snake so I could she how she handled more difficult terrain, and it was clear that she was a better skier than she thought. I gave her a couple of small tips, and mostly we worked on boosting her confidence.

The rest of the session we alternated between tweaking her skiing, skiing steeper terrain, and even skiing some glades, which she had never done before. At the end of our session, I asked her to summarize what she had learned, and encouraged her to keep practicing and stay positive.

As I was standing at the meeting area the next day, Jane skied up to me with her kids and husband. She started gushing about the great runs they had just enjoyed together in the glades. Seeing the joy and enthusiasm she had from her newly found confidence is what makes my job so great.

Have you had a great lesson experience on snow? Tell us about that experience in a comment!

Behind the scenes at Smugglers’ Notch: Holiday decor

Smugglers' Notch holiday decorHoliday decor at a vacation destination can add a very special touch to a guest’s experience. Here at Smugglers’, a beautiful inclusion in our holiday decor are the wreaths, swags and garlands that are made by resort employee Diane Oustinoff using natural ingredients from the gardens here and from her own backyard.

Diane is currently teaching skiing with Snow Sport University – this is her 28th season as an instructor. She also worked as the resort’s landscaping manager for many years, and it was in that position that her wreath-making efforts were launched.

She first began assembling the greenery for the resort’s holiday decor back in the early 90s. The resort used to put wreaths on the hallway doors to our condominium homes – not the best idea, as it turned out, as the needles made a bit of a mess. The decision was made to focus on our condominium building’s outer doors for wreath display, and after that Diane’s efforts quickly expanded throughout the resort.

Diane begins collecting items such a seed pods and flower heads as early as August and continues right through November. Over the years she has pared down her collecting to about 13 items: echinops flowers, artemesia, hydrangea blossoms, red sumac bracts, fern pods, baptisia pods, ornamental grasses, small red crabapples, red winter berries, white pine cones, and red pine cones. Some items are enhanced with a spray of gold, silver or red paint.

All these ingredients are grouped together and affixed to the wreaths, which come from a Vermont supplier. This process of assembling and hot gluing a spray of features to the wreath can take 20-30 minutes per wreath, depending on the size. The final addition is a bow made with a gold-backed burgundy ribbon. Diane makes the garlands and swags herself using balsam and Frasier fir, white pine, cedar and blue spruce. She works in her basement, which must have quite the piney scent throughout the fall!

All told, Diane assembled more than 60 wreaths, 10 swags, and 145 feet of garland for this holiday season. Prior to wreath-making season, she always keeps an eye out for potential future placement whenever she’s in the resort. Wherever the wreaths are placed, they are definitely a signature holiday touch that visitors to Smugglers’ admire and appreciate.

Learn more from “behind the scenes” – read about our specialty beverage cafe, The Perk

Ski school stories: My best day

Smugglers Notch ski lesson

Last winter we asked a few of our ski and snowboard instructors to share a story about their best day supporting a snowsports student. Their replies show that the word “lesson” really doesn’t do justice to the experience. Sure, the lesson is about learning or improving on skills, and that in itself is exciting. But their stories showed that a lesson can be about fulfillment, exploration, challenge, independence, creativity, friendship and more – all good stuff!

Here’s ski instructor Alisa Anderson’s “best day” story:

Last season I had the pleasure of working with a guest who was an avid skier at Smuggs before his stroke. His good friend Terry signed him up for an adaptive lesson in hopes of getting him back on skis. As a result of the stroke, George lost some sight and experienced some weakness on the left side. The two friends shared the goal of skiing together again; Terry really wanted to learn to guide George.

First, we needed to see if the weakness on George’s left side could be supported with use of adaptive equipment. Our next step was to assess his sight and figure out what guiding techniques would give George the independence he wanted, while keeping him and the people around him safe. Terry’s job was to watch and learn.

Once we got off the lift it all seemed to come back to George, just like riding a bike. Even though his left side was a bit weak, together with use of his right side, George was able to ski parallel. Terry was behind us cheering George on like they were boys again and George had hit a home run in a Little League game! George and I eventually had to ask Terry to be quiet so we could focus on skiing!

I started by skiing in front of George with my fluorescent green guide vest. I asked him to try and keep me in his field of vision as I moved down the slopes, and he was able to follow with little trouble.Terry was chomping at the bit to give it a try with his friend.

I love helping students gain back their independence and realize that even though many things have changed in their lives, they can still get out on the mountain and experience the thrill.

Have you had a rewarding snowsports lesson experience? Share your story in a comment!

Planning tips for your winter holiday family vacation

family ski trip

Celebrating the holidays away from home can be an exciting and memorable experience. The benefits? You’ll relax and have fun together, enjoying new experiences and creating memories, without the to-do list that typically accompanies holiday celebrations at home.

With its winter wonderland setting in the mountains of Vermont, Smugglers’ Notch Resort is a favorite destination for families over the holidays. The resort responds to many inquiries about celebrating the holidays away from home, observes Margie Preman, Smugglers’ vacation planning manager. Preman and her staff offer the following tips:

  • Make your reservation as soon as you know your family’s vacation availability. Holiday vacations are popular. Waiting until the last minute to make your arrangements may limit your options for lodging and require flexibility with your dates.
  • Plan ahead for special clothing or gear needs. Planning ahead enables you to jump right into your chosen activities upon arrival. If you intend to ski or snowboard, think about whether you want to rent equipment upon arrival or travel with your own or leased equipment. Renting equipment can take the hassle out of traveling with bulky gear. If traveling by plane and checking your luggage, consider having a carry-on suitcase with a day’s worth of clothing for each family member … just in case!
  • Travel with a few of your family’s holiday traditions. It’s nice to bring along some traditions, whether you choose to hang stockings or tote a fruitcake made from your family’s classic recipe. “Traveling with some of your traditions can help you settle into your vacation destination and make it feel familiar, which will assist young children with the transition,” notes Preman.
  • Take a look at your destination’s website for any events and activities planned for the holiday period. The holidays are typically a special time with many activities and special programs. You don’t want to miss anything!

Have a wonderful holiday vacation!

holiday family travelIf you’re looking for holiday fun, you’ll find it all through December at Smugglers’ Notch! The resort’s Holiday Magic activities are designed for young and old and include cookie decorating, craft workshops such as sock puppet making and snow art, themed family challenge races and bedtime stories with holiday elves. Santa will join children each Saturday around the village bonfire for hot chocolate and cookies. A weekly on-snow carnival features music, food, games and the thrill of watching an ice carving artisan unveil a sparkling masterpiece. Read more about Holiday Magic at Smugglers’ Notch