Which New Hampshire Ski Resort Is Right For You?
Winter in New Hampshire means skiing, snow sports, and family fun. White Mountains ski resorts offer alpine and Nordic skiing (downhill and cross-country), snowboarding, snow shoeing, tubing, fat tire biking, skating, zip lining, and many other outdoor activities. Costs can add up, so it’s important to book someplace that’s a good fit. In this article, we have gathered information to help you decide which New Hampshire ski resort is right for you.
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All-Inclusive Park and Play Resorts: Bretton Woods & Waterville Valley
Bretton Woods Ski Area and Omni Mt. Washington Resort
BEST FOR: Park and Play! The resort offers a complete vacation experience with world-class skiing, outdoor adventures, upscale accommodations, chic shops, and fine dining.
Address: Route 302, Bretton Woods, NH
Location: The ski area is located in the village of Bretton Woods in the town of Carroll, New Hampshire. It faces Mt. Washington and the Omni Mt. Washington Hotel in the White Mountain National Forest. The ski area is about 2 hours 45 minutes north of Boston.
Size: 10 Lifts (including 4 quads and an 8-passenger gondola), 465 acres of skiable alpine terrain (63 trails and 35 glades) and 100km of Nordic skiing. It is the largest ski area in New Hampshire. The area has an 8 person gondola, 4 highspeed quads, and 92% snow making capacity.
Activities: Alpine skiing and snowboarding (day and night); Nordic skiing, Year-Round Canopy Tours, Snowshoeing, Tubing, Winter Fat Bikes, Guided Ski Excursions, Sleigh & Carriage Rides, Scenic Gondola Rides, Special Events & Ski Races, Ski School, Adaptive Skiing, and Midway Terrain Park. There is a large horse barn and stables on property with boarding available.
Accommodations: There are a number of lodging choices spread across the property ranging from the historic and majestic Onmi Mount Washington Hotel (spa, shops, swimming pool, and restaurants) to the Omni Bretton Arms Inn, The Lodge at Bretton Woods, and The Townhouses at Bretton Woods. Onsite ski and stay packages are available. Visitors can book hotel rooms, suites, or condos on property.
Dining: There are a number of eateries scattered throughout the ski area’s lodges. Away from the slopes guests will find dinging in the Omni Mount Washington Hotel (2 fine dining restaurants, 2 taverns, and a bakery), Bretton Arms Dining Room, Rosebrook Lodge, and Fabyan’s Restaurant.
Noteworthy: In 2020, Ski Magazine voted Bretton Woods #1 for scenery, snow, and grooming in the East. Due to its elevation and geography, the area is blessed with lots of natural snow (around 200 inches per year). The resort is quite large and spread out. There is a complimentary shuttle service for guests to utilize. Catering to an upscale crowd, Omni Mt. Washington/Bretton Woods area prides itself on quality services. The resort is surrounded by small villages. The nearest towns (Littleton, Lancaster, or North Conway) are 30-40 minutes away, giving the area a feeling of remoteness.
Waterville Valley Resort
BEST FOR: Travelers who want to stay in a charming resort town and be shuttled between the ski area, Adventure Center, shops, and restaurants all nestled at the base of a National Forest.
Address: Route 49, Waterville Valley NH
Location: The resort is situated in north-central New Hampshire at the ‘gateway’ to the White Mountains. The ski area sits at the end of a cul-de-sac in a valley. It is about 15 miles, 20 minutes, from I 93, and 2.5 hours north of Boston.
Size: 12 lifts, 264 acres of skiable terrain; 60 slopes and 70km of Nordic trails. It is the 5th biggest ski area in NH.
Activities: Alpine skiing and snowboarding. Adventure Center offers Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking on over 70km of trails through the White Mountain National Forest. The ski area offers a Kids Kamp, babysitting services, ski clinics and private lessons. In the adjacent town of Waterville Valley, visitors will find Sleigh and Carriage rides, sledding, and the Waterville Valley Ice Arena (public skate times).
Accommodations: Waterville Valley offers a number of different types of lodgings in town including: Town Square Condos, Silver Fox Inn, Black Bear Lodge, Golden Eagle Lodge, Valley Inn, The Owl’s Nest, Snowy Owl Inn, The Snow Star, and Village Condos. Most lodgings are appointed with pools, spas, hot tubs, kitchenettes, work out facilities, and restaurants.
Dining: There are a number of eateries scattered throughout the ski area’s lodges. In town there are 5 restaurants, a bakery, and pub. There are also a few taverns and cafes in the nearby town of Campton.
Noteworthy: Waterville Valley was developed as a resort town (there are only about 500 residents). The town center consists mainly of hotels, restaurants, and shops that cater to visitors. The ski area is short distance away accessed by free shuttle bus.
All-Inclusive Ski Resorts with Inviting Ski Towns: Loon & Attitash
Loon Mountain Resort
BEST FOR: Active couples and families who will enjoy a well-run, full-service ski area along with the bustle of a lively mountain town filled with restaurants, shops, and north country attractions.
Address: 60 Loon Mountain Road, Lincoln NH
Location: The resort is easy to reach. It is 10 minutes off I-93, just south of Franconia Notch. The ski area is located in Lincoln, NH, about 2 miles from the town center. It is 2.5 hours north of Boston.
Size: 11 Lifts (including a new 8 seat “Kanc-8” chair with heated seats and weather blocking protective pull-down bubble), 368 acres of skiable terrain: 61 slopes and NH’s only Superpipe. Some Nordic trails along the Pemi River, and old logging roads. Loon is the 2nd biggest ski area in NH.
Activities: Alpine skiing and snowboarding. Adventure Center with Nordic skiing, snowshoeing (guided tours available), tubing, ice skating, Sno-going (ski-bike), and ziplining over an icy river. A ski school, kid’s program/daycare, and adaptive skiing program are all available. Powerful snow making system ensures a good base and long season.
Accommodations: Loon Mountain Resort does not operate any lodgings, but the Mountain Club Resort and Spa is located at the base of the mountain, and offers ski in/ski out lodgings. Also, within 5 miles there is an abundance of hotels rooms, condominiums, lodges, inns, and cabins at a variety of price points. The River Green Resort is close to Loon’s South Peak and features pools, a spa, dining, and free shuttle service. The River Walk Resort in Lincoln, NH (2.2 miles away) has on on-site winery, Italian restaurant, spa, pool, and ice skating.
Dining: Six restaurants and two bars are located in lodges throughout the ski area. The nearby towns of Lincoln (2 miles from the resort) and North Woodstock have great eateries including full-service restaurants (The Common Man, Woodstock Inn Brewery, Gordi’s Fish & Steak House, and La Vista Italian Cuisine) as well as favorite breakfast joints (Flap Jacks), and specialty pizza, Mexican, and burger/sandwich restaurants.
Noteworthy: The Loon Mountain ski area is comprised of 3 peaks located in the White Mountain National Forest. The facility is a great family destination with beginner, intermediate, and expert terrain (lots of long, well-loved intermediate trails). There is a shuttle bus service that runs a regular route between the ski area base lodges and local hotels that many visitors love. The ski area sponsors lots of events from family focused fun to national competitions. Minutes from the bustling downtown of Lincoln and at the base of the scenic Kancamagus Byway, there is always something to do.
Attitash Mountain Resort
BEST FOR: Vacationers who want to ‘get-away-from-it-all’ at a top-rate ski resort, but still be close to great restaurants, shopping, and entertainment.
Address: Route 302, Bartlett NH
Location: The mountain is 9 miles (14minutes) from North Conway, NH, and 3+ hours from Boston.
Size: The ski area has 10 Lifts on 309 acres of skiable terrain (68 slopes). It is the 3rd biggest ski area in NH). Attitash is built across two connecting mountains with a Main Attitash Base Lodge and Bear Peak Base Lodge.
Activities: Alpine skiing and snowboarding. Nordic skiing. Terrain parks for beginner, intermediate, and expert abilities. Ski lessons, adaptive ski programs, and race teams. Child care available.
Accommodations: There are two lodgings located at the base of Attitash Mountain. Attitash Mountain Village has over 350 rooms built along the Saco River. The 4 season resort has features skating, pools/saunas, fitness facility, and much more to enjoy. The Grand Summit Hotel at Attitash has luxury lodging with a restaurant, pools, and hot tubs. In addition, there are many quality destination hotels and resorts in the North Conway area.
Dining: There is a cafeteria in the Attitash Main Base Lodge as well as a restaurant and cafeteria in the Bear Peak Base Lodge. Nearby North Conway offers a variety of fast food, chain dining venues, taverns, breweries, and fine dining options.
Noteworthy: The ski area is home to the steepest trail in the state, but offers terrain for all abilities (there is a beginner terrain area where newbies can practice for free). Attitash has traditionally limited ticket sales to a level where lift lines are manageable and the slopes do not feel crowded. On property lodgings offer a good variety of luxury accommodations, hotel rooms and condos all with easy access to skiing. This is a family ski are with something for all abilities that is close to all the attractions and amenities of North Conway, NH.
Challenging Terrain for the Serious Skier: Cannon & Wildcat
BEST FOR: Best for a day ticket when you want spectacular scenery and challenging terrain.
Address: Franconia Notch State Park, Franconia NH
Location: Cannon is located in Franconia Notch State Park directly off Rt. 93. It is about 2.5 hours from Boston. The ski area overlooks Echo Lake, and has a spectacular view of the Franconia Ridge mountain tops.
Size: The ski area has 9 Lifts, 282 acres of skiable terrain; 97 slopes. It is the 4th biggest in NH.
Activities: Cannon Mountain offers alpine skiing and snowboarding. It has a ski school (lessons and clinics), childcare center, and adaptive skiing program onsite. There are three terrain parks and glades (tree skiing) on ungroomed natural snow for experts. HAS A UNCOMMERCIAL FEELIN
Dining: There is a food court, several cafes, and a food market at the ski area. There are many great dining opportunities in nearby Lincoln, North Woodstock, and Franconia.
Accommodations: No slope side accommodations. Many great lodging opportunities in nearby Lincoln, North Woodstock, and Franconia.
Noteworthy: State owned ski area that is home to some of the steepest, most challenging terrain in the state. The 4000’ summit is affected by the unique weather of the notch and produces great natural snow for skiing. Cannon has an uncommercial vibe along with the highest ski area summit and longest vertical drop in New Hampshire.
BEST FOR: Spectacular scenery for expert skiers.
Address: Route 16, Gorham NH
Location: The ski area is built in the White Mountain’s unspoiled Pinkham Notch. From the summit of Wildcat, skiers gaze across to the top of Mt. Washington. The area is about 18 miles (20 minutes) north of North Conway. It is 3+ hours north of Boston.
Size: Wildcat has 5 Lifts and 225 acres of skiable terrain with 48 slopes. It is the 9th biggest ski area in NH.
Activities: Alpine skiing and snowboarding. Ski Lessons and rentals. For Nordic skiers there is the 7-mile Wildcat Valley Trail that hooks up with the Jackson cross country ski trail network.
Accommodations: No slope side accommodations. There are many different types of lodgings available at the Attitash Resort and in the town of North Conway. The closest hotel to the ski area is the Glen House, a beautiful New England inn that offers Ski and Stay Packages.
Dining: The ski area has a cafeteria style restaurant and pub onsite. There are many great dining opportunities in nearby North Conway.
Noteworthy: Pinkham Notch is home to an average annual snowfall of over 200 inches. Moreover, the ski area boasts snowmaking ability for over 90% of the skiable terrain. The area’s elevation and brilliant white hoar-frost makes for some beautiful scenery. This ski area is well-loved by expert skiers who are challenged by the terrain’s steep slopes, moguls, and tree skiing.
Fun Family Ski Resorts by the Lakes: Sunapee & Gunstock
Mount Sunapee Resort
BEST FOR: Families and large groups who want to rent a vacation home at a ski area known for its great snowmaking and grooming.
Address: Route 103, Newbury NH
Location: Sunapee is located in west – central New Hampshire about 2 hours north of Boston.
Size: The area boasts 10 Lifts, 230 acres of skiable terrain, 66 slopes, and 2 high speed quads to the summit. Mount Sunapee is the 7th biggest ski area in NH.
Activities: Alpine skiing and snowboarding. The Bob Skinner 603 Terrain Park has a powerful sound system and dedicated triple chair lift. There is a ski school with learn to ski packages for families. Sunapee has a well-respected adaptive skiing program. There is snow making on over 97% of the skiable terrain.
Accommodations: There are no slope side accommodations, but the area is dense with B&Bs, condos, and motels (Lake Sunapee is a few minutes from the mountain). Many families take advantage of the many vacation homes for weekend/weekly rent (Home Away, VRBO, Airbnb).
Dining: There are 3 slope side café style restaurants and a pub at the mountain. In the nearby villages of Sunapee and Newbury there are a few small family style restaurants. Many visitors rent accommodations with kitchens and prepare their own meals.
Noteworthy: Mount Sunapee is known for its great snowmaking and grooming. It’s terrain is varied. The resort has an area (the South Peak) dedicated to beginners. About half of the trails are blue (intermediate). There are also some glades and moguls for more advanced skiers.
BEST FOR: Families or groups with skiers of varying levels of abilities who are looking for a fun, family friendly environment, and New England attractions in the immediate area.
Address: 719 Cherry Valley Road, Gilford NH
Location: The resort is located in the New Hampshire’s Lakes Region (central NH). Th mountain overlooks Lake Winnipesaukee. It is 2 hours north of Boston.
Size: There are 8 Lifts, 225 acres of skiable terrain, and 54 slopes. The ski area is the 8th biggest in NH.
Activities: Alpine skiing and snowboarding with 3 terrain parks and a beginner’s area with lift and dedicated trail. The Gunstock Nordic Center offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, and skijoring. The resort has night skiing and riding as well as a tubing park. There is a full compliment of ski lessons, clinics, a ski racing program, and a child care program.
Accommodations: No slope side accommodations. There are any lodging options across the Lakes Region including hotels, inns, condos at many price points. Many vacation homes for rent (Home Away, VRBO, Airbnb).
Dining: There are several pubs, cafeteria style restaurants, and take-out dining options at the main base lodge and scattered throughout the ski area. There are many fast food, chain, and fine dining options available in the Gilford, Laconia, Meredith areas (within a 30-minute drive).
Noteworthy: This medium-sized ski area has a lot to offer. It boasts 90% snowmaking capability, lake-effect natural snow, and varied terrain for all abilities. In addition, the views of Lake Winnipesaukee are fantastic. The area has a dedicated base of followers (local and out-of-towners) who return to the area year after year, giving the resort a friendly, welcoming vibe.
Happy skiing, Laura and Randy
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