Live Free and Ski
At New Hampshire’s ski resorts, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for, whether that’s winding trails, cozy fires, or the perfect spot for an après drink.
This season is already off to a strong start in New Hampshire, and the Farmer’s Almanac predicts a snowy next few months. But even if the storm track shifts, skiing in the Granite State is a guaranteed good time. That’s because all the major resorts have invested in impressive snowmaking operations—and snowboarding and skiing are far from the only attractions at the state’s 19 resorts. From free ski lessons and X-Games-worthy terrain parks to mellow cross-country skiing and roaring fires, here’s how to make the most of your winter in the Northeast.
Learn to Ski
January is Learn to Ski & Snowboard month in NH, and most resorts are offering a $39 package that includes a lift ticket, rentals, and a lesson. Can’t visit in January? No worries. McIntyre Ski Area and Ragged Mountain, both located within an hour’s drive of Concord, the state’s capital, both offer programs all season long to get you laying out sweet turns in no time. The best deal going is at Ragged, which is offering first-time skiers ages seven and older three group lessons, lower mountain lift tickets, and brand-new Rossignol rentals—all for free! The resort’s theory? By your third time, you’re bound to fall in love.
Head for the Summit
Cannon Mountain, one of the state’s most iconic mountains, is home to the first passenger tramway in North America, which first opened in 1938. It’s since been updated, but the views are as impressive as ever: On a clear day you can see the mountains of four states and Canada. The view is only rivaled by those at nearby Wildcat. From that summit, Mount Washington and the Presidential Range, known for some of the gnarliest weather in the world, are practically eye-level.
Follow the Storms
One of the good things about skiing in New Hampshire, where all the resorts are clustered relatively close together, is that when a storm rolls through they pretty much all get pasted. But thanks to its prime location in what meteorologists call an “upslope snowbelt,” Bretton Woods often gets more than its fair share of snow. Once you’ve had your fill, duck into the resort’s solar-powered Mount Stickney Cabin for hot chocolate by the indoor woodstove or hang out and roast marshmallows at the outdoor stone fire pit.
Embrace the Corduroy
The next best thing to plundering powder is carving deep trenches. Thanks to meticulous grooming and impressive snowmaking capabilities, Mount Sunapee Resort is consistently awarded #1 for grooming in the East. Our favorite run: The Ridge Trail—the longest trail at the mountain complete with fun rollers and wide, sweeping turns.
Hit the Park
Just two hours from Boston, Loon Mountain is home to the state’s only superpipe. But that’s just the start. The resort has a total of six terrain parks, ranging from the Burton Riglet Park for kids as young as three all the way to the nearly mile-long park for experts, including the X-Games-lookalike 30-foot wall ride that’s shaped like a log cabin. This year, Attitash Resort is stepping up its terrain park game. The redesigned Abenaki Terrain Park now includes beginner and progression areas, and the redeveloped lodge at the base area of their 3 parks now features music, ski videos on a large flat screen, games, and comfy chairs.
Ski Into the Night
Pats Peak offers skiing and riding on 28 trails until 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends. It really goes off on Saturdays, when $49 gets you an entire evening’s worth of fun—lift ticket, snow tubing, rentals, and live entertainment. For the late-late crowd, Crotched Mountain keeps the lights on until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and stokes enthusiasm with drink specials, concerts, and a slope-side bonfire all night long.
Après in High Style
The state is full of great post-shred watering holes, but Loon Mountain’s Paul Bunyan Room and The Stone Hearth Bar at Ragged are two of our favorites. Upstairs at the base of Loon Peak, the Paul Bunyan Room has 24 local beers on draft, a winter-long weekend concert series, and the best part: a deck that gets late-afternoon sun. As the name suggests, Ragged’s signature pub has an enormous three-sided fireplace (and live music and tons of local microbrews). It also has some of the best pizza in the state—we recommend the Snow Pizza, which is topped with roasted garlic, three cheeses, caramelized onion, and mushroom.
Book a Spa Day
With a full spa at the mountain resort and a slopeside heated outdoor pool, Attitash is one of our favorite places to take it easy. Feeling extra relaxed? You can get an hour massage right in your hotel room. Loon’s three-story Viaggio Spa and Wellness Center is even more decadent, with more than 75 options on its salon and spa menu, including everything from a haircut to a six-hour Ultimate Relaxation package.
Take the Kids Tubing
Nobody takes tubing as seriously as Gunstock Mountain Resort, which has the longest runs in the state (1,068 feet) and—music to every parent’s ears—an extremely safe way to catch air: a massive ramp that allows kids to launch off a jump, get big air, and land, consequence-free, on an air bag. Except, perhaps, Granite Gorge, which has “cosmic tubing” on Saturdays, when the resort shuts off the lights, cranks up the music, and puts on an overhead laser light show until 9:30 p.m.
Fly Like an Eagle
The ski slopes aren’t the only way to satisfy the need for (family) speed. Cranmore Mountain Resort’s Adventure Park is now open all winter long, which means you can careen through the woods on the Mountain Coaster, fly through the air on the Giant Swing, or soar 700 feet down the mountain on a suspended cable. Top it off with s’mores, DJ dance parties, family games, and fireworks every Saturday, and we pretty much guarantee your little ones will be amazed. For bigger kids (and kids at heart), Bretton Woods has beginner ice climbing classes and an epic three-hour, nine-zip-line, two-suspension-bridge canopy tour that serves up large-format views of the stark and snow-covered Presidential Range.
Get Your Nordic On
Two of the best places in the state for Nordic skiing, Great Glen Trails and Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, are just 15 minutes apart. Great Glen Trails boasts 28 miles of classic and skate-groomed trails at the base of Mount Washington. Beginners can take advantage of their rentals and ski school, and, with Sue Wemyss, a 1984 Olympian, on staff, you’re sure to be a pro before the end of the day. Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, located in the charming New England village of Jackson, is right out of a winter fairytale, with covered bridges and a white-steeple church. And with 55 trails spread across 93 miles, it has trails for everyone from first-timers to Spandex-clad Nordorks.
Whether you’re looking to carve your way down fresh trails at one of our 19 ski resorts, ride thousands of miles of epic trails on a snowmobile, or take a winter hike through our picture-perfect White Mountains, New Hampshire has your winter covered. Plan your winter adventure today! Learn more at VisitNH.gov.