Guide to Rhode Island’s 1 Ski Resort
Finding a place to ski and snowboard in Rhode Island is narrowed down by the fact that there’s only 1 downhill resort. Yawgoo Valley Ski Area and Sports Park in Exeter is located just 30 minutes from Providence at one of the highest points in the region.
Usually, Yawgoo Valley is open from early December through late March, but Mother Nature sometimes has her own ideas. The resort opening is occasionally delayed as late as January while the resort’s snowmakers wait for temperatures to be consistently cold enough to create a solid base area.
Storms up the Atlantic Coast can yield rain or snow, and Yawgoo Valley gets a bit of both. Thanks to its elevation and location, the resort receives an average of 48 inches of snow each year. Grooming equipment offers a great backup plan to push snow where it’s needed most.
Because the amount of snow can vary so quickly based on the weather, visitors are advised to check the resort’s social media in advance to ensure the slopes will be open. As January is the coldest month of the year in Rhode Island, it also has the highest likelihood of snow, whether natural or manmade.
Yawgood Valley Ski Area
The resort started in the 1960s as part of a plan to extend the summer resort’s business into the winter months. Ski school operator Max de Wardener purchased Yawgoo Valley from the original owners in 1980, and his family has been operating it ever since.
Over the decades, Yawgoo Valley has expanded to have 2 lifts, 2 rope tows, and 14 trails on 36 skiable acres. Summertime activities include a skateboarding park, a putting area, and Rhode Island’s only waterpark.
Beyond downhill skiing, the resort has night skiing, a terrain park, and weekend snow tubing. Parking for snow tubing is located at the top of the hill while skiers park below. Reservations should be made in advance for both snow tube and ski passes.
The lodge at the bottom of the hill has a restaurant, concession stand, pro shop, and rental office. Equipment rental includes skis or snowboards, boots, and poles. Helmets and goggles are not available for rent.
Fortunately for beginning skiers, Yawgoo Valley’s terrain makes it easy to learn. The hill has a vertical drop of a mere 245 feet and a peak elevation of 315 feet, and most of the runs are groomed for beginners. There are still some challenging options at the top of the mountain once new skiers can advance to harder slopes.
Registration for the resort’s 5-week lesson program begins in the fall and is always in high demand. Lift tickets and equipment rentals are included as part of the program cost. For those who have more ski experience and are ready for a challenge, Yawgoo’s junior race club provides the next level for young skiers to show their skills.
There are plenty of other similarly sized resorts in surrounding states. Options near Hartford and Boston are 1 to 2 hours from much of Rhode Island. Yet, Yawgoo Valley is convenient and has just what beginner skiers in Rhode Island need to learn the basics practically in their backyard.