If you’re going to visit the “ski capital of the East” – Stowe, Vermont – you should probably know how to ski. Or, in my case, learn as soon as you get there. Stowe is a magical winter wonderland for outdoorsy people, about three or so hours from Boston.
The road trip from Boston is beautiful, with plenty of things to do along the way if you want to stretch it into a sightseeing opportunity. And I’d highly recommend something with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
My sister and I met in Boston and piloted the Pathfinder from the airport to the Lodge at Spruce Peak. The Pathfinder was completely redesigned for 2022, and it’s a solid SUV. Jumping on Interstate 93, we headed north and veered northeast on Interstate 89 near Bow, Vermont. About two-thirds of the way through the journey, signs began to warn of snow squalls, and they weren’t lying. White flakes swirled into a dense vortex, meaning that slowing to a crawl was necessary. It was a worthwhile trip, though, because Stowe is worth visiting and the drive is excellent.
Available in five trim levels, Nissan offers a Rock Creek package complete with a 220-pound-capacity roof rack and raised off-road-tuned suspension with a 5/8-inch lift. The all-terrain tires are wrapped around 18-inch beadlock-style wheels, and the vehicle can tow up to 6,000 pounds so you can BYOS (bring your own snowmobile).
Nissan's Zero Gravity seats aren't comfortable in name only, they're honestly some of the best-made vehicle seating out there. After a few hours in the car, good seats make a difference. Especially if you're tense and gripping the steering wheel as you push through snow squalls.
If you fuel up a 2024 Pathfinder Rock Creek with premium gas, the SUV is capable of 11 more horsepower plus the same increase in torque over the SV model, and that’s also helpful when navigating Vermont in the winter months. But it’s good to know that premium isn’t required; save a few bucks and use regular fuel to sacrifice the extra boost from the 3.5-liter V6.
The Lodge at Spruce Peak is the only ski-in/ski-out hotel in New England, and it's very convenient. All we had to do was suit up and head downstairs to pick up our gear and start lessons. There's a variety of hills that start with a gentle slope for beginners, and I saw kids as young as two happily sliding down. I can't say I was as much of a natural and I won't tell you the details about how I plopped off the ski lift and the operator had to stop the whole operation for me to recover.
Even the Trapp family, the people who inspired the movie The Sound of Music, fell in love with Stowe. They built the Trapp Family Lodge in 1950, a European-style location with mountain views and plenty of things to do. I'd bet good money that someone is spinning around and singing about how the hills are alive with the sound of music at any given point in time.
From there, head into the town of Stowe and be sure to pass by the three quaint covered bridges in the area.
Next time I visit the area, I'm planning to try out an Eden Ethical dog sledding experience and a Ben & Jerry's factory tour. Ice cream is delicious even in the dead of winter, and with flavors like Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz and Cherry Garcia you can't go wrong. And maybe next time, I won't faceplant off the ski lift.
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