We’ll preface this list by stating the obvious: South County is not a ski destination. After buying a home in Westerly, South Kingstown, or Charlestown, however, you won’t have to give up on skiing if it is an activity you enjoy in the winter.
While you won’t find an abundance of ski resorts right in your backyard, there are multiple ski areas within two hours of Westerly and the region also has ski clubs that you can join if you want to make the trek to some of the world-class resorts that are a bit further away.
Have a look at the following ski resorts because they provide great value when searching for somewhere to hit the slopes this winter.
Yawgoo Valley Ski Area & Water Park
We'll start with the only ski resort in Rhode Island, Yawgoo Valley. The park sits just south of Exeter and features 14 trails, two chairlifts, and a tube park. The highest elevation here is 310 feet, and the resort relies heavily on artificial snow but, hey, it's better than nothing.
You can purchase a season's pass at Yawgoo Valley if you think you'll take advantage of the resort on a regular basis, and group, private, and program lessons are available for beginners. You can also rent equipment here if you want to try out skiing or snowboarding without having to buy expensive gear.
Mount Southington Ski Area
Plantsville, Connecticut, which is just 80 miles from Westerly, Rhode Island, is home to Mount Southington Ski Area. The mountain generally opens in December and has 14 runs, including two Black Diamond circuits for more advanced skiers. The top elevation here is 525 feet, and it has seven lifts, including two triple chairs and two double chairs.
You can purchase season's passes to the mountain at a discounted rate or go for daily lift passes. While there is no lodging at the actual hill, there are hotels about a five-minute drive from its base, making it easy to spend the night in the area after making the journey.
Blue Hills Ski Area
In Canton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, you’ll find Blue Hills Ski Area, which is on the western face of Great Blue Hill. The ski area features a vertical drop of 309 feet and has a double chairlift and three magic carpet lifts. There are eight runs at Blue Hills, in addition to a lodge with restaurants, washrooms, and a small ski shop. There is ski patrol on duty, as well, so you'll be safe throughout your runs.
Blue Hills Ski Area is just 78 miles from Westerly, and you can get there is about an hour and a half when conditions are safe. There are plenty of hotels in Canton and nearby Norwood if you're planning to make a weekend of your ski excursion in Massachusetts.
Mohawk Mountain Ski Area
Back over on the Connecticut side of things is Mohawk Mountain Ski Area, which is located about 109 miles from Westerly. This ski resort is one of the larger in the area, with 25 runs, eight lifts, and an elevation of over 1600 feet at its summit. There are even some Black Diamond runs for advanced skiers.
On-site amenities at the resort include equipment rental, restaurants, retail shops, and ski patrol, with Wi-Fi and ATMs also available. Keep in mind that there isn't much in the way of lodging nearby and since the resort is only 95 miles from Manhattan, it gets busy on holiday weekends.
Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort
Just over an hour from Westerly in the town of Middlefield is Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort, an 80-acre ski area with 19 runs and vertical drops of up to 550 feet. The resort sits on Besek Mountain and has an affiliation with the Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park.
Included as part of the resort are a freestyle skiing course, a snowboard half-pipe, and snowbiking facilities. There's also a lodge with a restaurant and a retail store at Power Ridge. The hill doesn't have accommodation, but there are plenty of hotels rooms in nearby Wallingford and Meriden.
Nearby Ski Clubs
As mentioned earlier, there are some ski clubs in the region, and once you join, you’ll have access to lodging at some of New England’s premier ski destinations. Generally, these resorts offer far more than anything you’ll find in southern Rhode Island or Connecticut.
The Newport Ski Club has members all over Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and its lodge is located at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont. The lodge has ten bedrooms and sleeps 46 people, and members and their guests have year-round access to it. It's about a three-hour drive to Okemo Mountain from Westerly, but it has 121 runs of all skill levels, making it worth the travel if you're serious about your skiing.
The Rhode Island Ski Runners club has a lodge in the White Mountains near North Conway, New Hampshire. Cranmore Mountain, Attitash Mountain, Black Mountain, and Wildcat Mountain are all within 30 minutes of this base. The bad news is that it's about a four-hour drive from Westerly to the lodge, but if you plan on spending a few days in the area, it's worth the travel. Attitash Mountain, the premier resort here, has two mountains, 68 runs, ten chairlifts, and has 1,750 feet of vertical drop, making it one of the better ski hills on the east coast.
More Than Enough Options
Whether you are just learning how to ski or you look forward to hitting the slopes every winter, you’ll have choices close to Rhode Island, despite the state only having one ski hill of its own. There are ski resorts in nearly every direction from South County, and you can be on a chairlift just a couple of hours after leaving your home if you’re committed to it.
Just because you live in a part of the country that isn’t known for its skiing doesn’t mean you have to give up the hobby altogether because there are more than enough options nearby.