A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.
The nickname “the granite state” comes from all those granite quarries in New Hampshire and because it reflects the state’s attachment to tradition and a frugal government. Skiers and snowboarders, however, most certainly don’t take the 19 ski areas for granted. In fact, Mount Washington, the state’s highest peak, usually picks up 23 feet of snow each year, making New Hampshire the snowiest place in America. And, then, come spring, there’s Tuckerman’s Ravine.
Those 19 ski areas with 342 miles of skiable terrain served by 127 lifts in the White mountains have you covered from just about wherever you live in New England, but particularly if you call Massachusetts, Rhode Island or Connecticut home. N.H. “homies” can be on the slopes in minutes and those of you in Vermont, Maine and Eastern Canada looking for diversion from your own plethora of resorts have an easy ride across the border.
Black Mountain (Jackson): Terrain suitable for all abilities and age levels. Great views of Mount Washington from the summit.
Bretton Woods (Carroll): It’s the state’s largest ski area with 98 trails spread out across three mountains grouped according to their difficulty. It’s home to the Omni Mount Washington Resort, site of the historic international Monetary Conference of 1944.
Cannon Mountain (Franconia): Here’s the highest ski area summit and longest vertical in the state. Add in the adjacent 98 acres of Mittersill area for easier sliding. Don’t miss dropping into the New England Ski Museum at the base of the iconic aerial tramway.
Cranmore Mountain Resort: This is where skiing took off. Hannes Schneider, the celebrated Austrian skimeister and father of modern skiing, first opened his ski school and introduced skiing to the masses from New York and Boston. The original skimobile lift is now a museum piece. The ski area maintains its charm and interesting terrain today after all those years.
Crotched Mountain 100 acres of groomed terrain, tree glades and challenging steeps. Home to the Rocket, a high-speed detachable quad, you can ski or ride Thursday-Saturday nights.
Dartmouth Skiway (Hanover) Just 20 minutes from the campus of the same name this small ski area basically on the lower portions of two mountains is convenient and fun. The area has contributed close to 100 members of U.S. ski teams over the years.
Gunstock (Guilford): Gunstock's tradition of family skiing began during 1937. Plenty of families from the Boston area, about 1.5 hours away, call it their “home” mountain. It offers one of the region's largest night-skiing operations.
King Pine (E. Madison): Known for its family-friendly atmosphere, affordability, good grooming and gentle terrain for learning to ski or ride. Besides the venerable Purity Springs Resorts is only ¼ miles from the ski slopes.
Loon Mountain (Lincoln): Within the scenic White Mountain National Forest it is conveniently located off I-93, a two-hour drive of Boston and Manchester and a four-hour drive from Providence R.I. This is a big mountain (2,100 foot vertical, 61 trails, 3 peaks) so there’s plenty of terrain to satisfy all ability levels.
Mount Sunapee (Newberry): Close to Interstates I-89 and I-91. Its 66 trails are spread out over 233 acres of skiable terrain and a 2,743 summit elevation. Take in Lake Sunapee views from on high.
Pats Peak (Henniker): Hurricane is one of the steepest runs in the region. Diverse terrain for night skiing with the only beginner run in the state open day and night and also has plenty of lit double diamond terrain and glades.
Ragged Mountain (Danbury): Ride the Summit 6-pack, the state’s only high-speed, six-person chairlift and the Spear Mountain Express high-speed quad. Two peaks with a total of 250 skiable acres of terrain. It is indeed ragged and craggy.
Tenney Mountain (Plymouth): Tenney Mountain is small, affordable and hassle-free. 45 acres with Wednesday night skiing.
Waterville Valley (Waterville Valley): Former owner Tom Corcoran regularly played host to many a prominent Bostonian, including members of the Kennedy clan. Waterville has hosted numerous international races and World Cups. Intermediates like the idea of the number of blue trails from the top. There’s a nice village vibe here.
Whaleback Mountain (Enfield): Family-friendly, affordable skiing and riding. This non-profit ski area offers access to skiing to everyone in the community. Programs include after-school groups, lessons, hosting area ski clubs and the adult race night league.
Wildcat Mountain (Jackson) Located in the Mt. Washington Valley, this northwestern exposure provides the the highest amount of annual snowfall in the area and terrific views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range. Nearby North Conway is plenty lively at night.
It can get cold in the winter months as temps can run from 20-50 degrees Farenheit. Hey, it's New England. February is likely to be the coldest month. Cold fronts are common as early as October, and the first of the snowstorms usually happen by November. So what? Bundle up.
Named one of the best ski towns in the world by National Geographic, North Conway is close to seven ski resorts from Cranmore to Bretton Woods. Visit the Muddy Paws Sled Dog Kennel in nearby Jefferson. Shoppers will enjoy the North Conway Settlers’ Green Outlet Village with tax-free shopping. And for all your après ski fun, North Conway is the winner.
BlackMountain and Wildcat Mountain are located high in the mountains above the towns of Jackson and Intervale, N.H.
The village of Jackson allows history-minded skiers to get a glimpse into New Hampshire's past. Wander through Jackson's landscape to the ‘Honeymoon’ covered bridge, constructed in 1876. Enjoy some of the best cross-country skiing in the nation at the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation. Intervale offers families a quieter place to stay than North Conway, yet it’s closeby.
Explore the many shops in Lincoln, then take a drive along the famed, 34-mile scenic Kancamagus Highway that winds its way through the White Mountains.
Waterville Valley comes alive with thousands of visitors on big ski weekends. This year-round resort community is located at the base of the Mt. Tecumseh. Take a mid-day break and enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the many restaurants in the village. And don’t worry about getting to and from the mountain. There’s a resort shuttle that runs continuously throughout the day.
All New Hampshire ski resorts are within a relatively easy drive from Boston, Portsmouth, Hartford, New York. It depends, of course, on which ski area you have chosen and how long you can stand to play car games.
The closest drive-to areas are Gunstock (1.5 hours), Mount Sunapee (1.75 hours) and Pats Peak (1.5 hours). The farthest are Wildcat and Black Mountain (3 hours).
Live out of state? There are two regional airports and, of course, one international airport many people chose to fly into and out of and then simply rent a car. Choose from Boston’s Logan International Airport, Lebanon Municipal Airport, and Manchester-Boston Airport. It will be a bit trafficky if you are trying to get out of Boston at rush hours.