Five Northeast Ski Resorts Deliver an Avalanche of Family Fun

By Jeff and Stephanie Sylva

America’s mountainous northeast region is jam-packed with family-friendly ski resorts just waiting for your visit this winter. A number of northeast ski resorts have been busy making improvements and upgrades to their facilities, both on the slopes and off. Here’s a rundown on five of the northeast’s top ski resorts and some of their newest improvements to make for a fun family ski vacation.

1. Loon Mountain, Lincoln, New Hampshire: This December, Loon Mountain will open South Peak, the newest ski terrain in New England. A generation in the making, South Peak opens with a new high-speed express quad, three trails, a base facility and a connector lift. The new terrain represents only 35% of the total planned terrain on Loon Mountain that will open in subsequent years. Access to South Peak will be from one of two new lifts – the Lincoln Express Quad from the base of South Peak and the Tote Road Connector, which will bring skiers to South Peak from the main mountain, North Peak. The three new trails descending South Peak include two groomed runs with snowmaking and a classic New England gladed trail. The base area at South Peak will have parking for 150 cars and the Pemigewasset Base Camp, a fabric structure offering full food service, rest rooms, lift ticket sales, and registration for snowsports lessons. A shuttle bus will also be available between the Pemigewasset Base Camp and the main mountain base areas.

Loon Mountain, just a 2-hour drive north of Boston, is an ideal White Mountain ski destination for families. With its ease of online reservations for lodging, kids programs, lift tickets, lessons and rental equipment, plus the easy access to the resort, planning a family ski vacation has never been easier. Accommodations, lessons, lift tickets and rentals for the whole family can be reserved online at www.loonmtn.com. To save time at the drop-off for children's programs, parents can download pdfs of registration forms and questionnaires. Descriptions of all children’s programs can be found at http://www.loonmtn.com/info/winter/children.asp. A very popular family attraction at Loon is the J.E. Henry steam-powered locomotive, which transports guests back and forth between the Governor’s Lodge and the Octagon Lodge.

Families will also enjoy the Adventure Center with its 25-foot indoor climbing wall and outdoor ice skating rink. Guests can also rent snowshoes or cross- country skis and explore the more than 25 km of trails. Lift-served snow tubing is also available from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Also a favorite with families is the green-circle trail from the top of the Gondola at Loon's summit, Bear Claw. It has easy-to-spot claw marks on the trees all the way down the trail. Kids love to ski down to the next claw marker while they wait for their parents to catch up. The Loon Mountain area offers a variety of lodging from quaint B&B’s to slopeside condos. Ski & Stay Packages are easy to find and book at www.loonmtn.com.

2. Bolton Valley Resort, Bolton Valley, Vermont: The first major on-mountain improvements in more than twenty years will be ready for skiers & riders this season at Bolton Valley. The new top-to-bottom Vista Bowl quad will lift skiers from the base area to near the summit of Vista Peak in just 9 minutes. From there they’ll find themselves in the new Vista Bowl, which collects even more snow than Bolton’s average annual snowfall of 300 inches (more than Sun Valley or Keystone!). They’ll also find many acres of new glades. Other new developments at Bolton Valley include, Fireside Flatbread, a new wood-fired pizzeria in the Base Lodge, additional snowmaking, new lighting for night skiing, expanded parking, improved indoor Sports Center, and improvements to the base area hotel. Bolton Valley may not be one of the most widely known names in Northeast ski resorts, but it is a favorite for many locals and families who like to get away from the crowds. We skied Bolton Valley a few years ago, and grew to really like it. And now with the Vista Bowl lift taking skiers to the summit so quickly, the resort’s skiing experience, which had uncrowded trails and short lift lines, should be even better. Bolton Valley is great for families because of its slopeside accommodations, which include traditional inn-style rooms, suites and condos, casual dining and a tavern with live music all within walking distance. Access to the Sports & Fitness Center is included with any stay at the Inn at Bolton Valley. Included are an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, tennis, basketball and other recreational games. Bolton Valley has 64 trails and glades with 12 trails and 2 terrain parks lighted for night skiing or riding. Bolton Valley is located 20 miles south of Burlington, Vermont, just 8 miles of I-89. For more information visit www.boltonvalley.com or call 1.877.9BOLTON.

3. Bromley Mountain, Manchester Center, Vermont: Another great family ski location that attracts many of the locals in southern Vermont is Bromley Mountain - Vermont’s Sun Mountain. This is because Bromley is Vermont’s only southern facing mountain, so it stays warm on the trails throughout the day. With its 45 classic New England trails and glades, Bromley is perfect for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels from first timers to those who crave the gravity adrenaline rush. Bromley has always focused on families and value – they were the first area in Vermont to offer valet parking, allowing skiers to forget about the car or trudging through the parking lot. Bromley was selected #1 in North America by Ski magazine for Family Programs. With one centrally located base lodge, it’s easy for the family to get together, find one another and get back on the slopes. Bromley has the right terrain for everyone. The east side is full of black diamonds for the experts in the family, while the west side has some great cruising trails, and the beginner area has all the right elements for the first timer. New for this year is a freshly-cut intermediate gladed trail, Spring Fling, which will give skiers and riders who want to learn to ski the trees a terrific spot to start. Also new for this year is Bromley’s enticement to midweek skiing: an all-age, all-day, all-season $25 midweek/non-holiday lift ticket. For even more savings, purchase one adult $25 ticket on Bromley’s Family Fridays, and up to three kids lift tickets can be purchased for $12 each. That’s one adult and three kids skiing all day for just $61 and a family of four can ski for just $74! Another great deal is the Lifts & Lunch Tuesdays. For just $30 skiers and riders can get an all-day lift ticket and a full, sit-down, waitress-served lunch at the Wild Boar Tavern. For information on Bromley’s slopeside accommodations or other area accommodations visit www.bromley.com or call 1.800.865.4786.

4. Sunday River Resort, Bethel, Maine: In contrast to the smaller resorts of Bromley and Bolton Valley, Sunday River is remarkable in terms of sheer size. With 131 trails, 18 lifts (4 of which are high-speed quads) and 667 acres on 8 interconnected mountains, Sunday River offers a wide variety of skiing terrain over an immense area and 92% of it is covered by snowmaking. With an annual snowfall of more than 155 inches and all this snowmaking, Sunday River is famous for its dependable snow conditions. Families can find just the right type of accommodations from among Sunday River’s many options located directly on the slopes for direct trail access. Guests can choose from the Snow Cap Inn, 700 condos, the Grand Summit Resort Hotel, or Sunday River’s premier address, the Jordan Grand Resort Hotel. Families will love the White Cap Fun Center, which houses a couple of pub-style restaurants perfect for families, a free ice-skating rink (weather permitting), an arcade, Saturday night fireworks, bonfires throughout the season, and a snow tubing park with a surface lift. The BIG Adventure Center in Bethel offers laser tag, a climbing wall, an arcade and mini-bowling. Sunday River offers a wide variety of packages deals. Families should check out the Children’s Festival, which runs from January 13 to January 18, 2008. Kids stay free, ski free, and get free equipment rentals and Perfect Turn clinics when staying three nights or more with an adult. For more information about Sunday River Resort’s ski packages and accommodations visit www.sundayriver.com or call 1.800.543.2SKI.

5. Gore Mountain, North Creek, New York: Ski, snowboard, and snowshoe the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Located in the largest state park in the United States, Gore Mountain offers alpine, cross-country, and backcountry skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. With seventy-five trails, eleven lifts, and a 2,100-foot vertical drop, Gore has the greatest vertical within a four-hour drive of metropolitan New York. Gore offers big mountain skiing, excellent value, and a safe and welcoming family atmosphere. Gore Mountain features a variety of terrain for every level of skier and rider. A diverse number of trails include The Rumor, a double black diamond trail with one of the steepest headwalls in the East, and Bear Cub Run, designed to the precise grade recommended for beginners by the National Ski Areas Association. The eight-passenger, high-speed Northwoods Gondola was installed to transport guests to its summit, from which all corners of the resort’s ski area are accessible. SKI Magazine editors placed Gore in the Top 10 List for Value & Lifts. SKIING voted Gore Mountain as one of the 10 Great Unknowns. Gore Mountain is located in North Creek, a small village with a rich ski history. The town’s charming Main Street features shops and restaurants, and area accommodations welcome winter guests and offer a variety of lodging options, from cozy cabins to four-star resorts. Since it is a state park, Gore Mountain has no slopeside accommodations.
The Northwoods Lodge, which was constructed in partnership with Lincoln Logs, is new this year at Gore Mountain. The old gondola building has been completely transformed and redesigned in the classic Adirondack Great Camp style and will now house the Kids Klub children’s program, daycare, and rentals. Beginners and families will be able to access the Northwoods Lodge directly from the parking lot, and then enter the Base Area wearing rental equipment, with their children secured in daycare or lessons. Immediately accessible from the Northwoods Lodge is the newly improved Bear Cub Run trail, terrain offering an ideal experience to the first-time skier or rider. The Snow Train conveyor lift, recently lengthened to 100 feet, is being relocated to this trail for children’s programs. In addition to the new Northwoods Lodge, the main Base Lodge has 7500 square feet of remodeled space providing more seating, lockers, hooks and storage space. A new triple chairlift at the North Creek Ski Bowl, servicing 150 vertical feet, will improve the experience of the evening activities there, including family-friendly skiing and riding on Village Slope and Ski Bowl Park, a new terrain park with a half-pipe. For more information on Gore Mountain and area accommodations and activities visit www.goremountain.com or call 1.518.251.2411.

Jeff and Stephanie Sylva have been professional travel writers for 18 years. Their daughter, Jennifer, who is currently in college, often travels with them.

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