By Kathy Bennett
for the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce
What ski areas are in North Conway? Where can I ski in North Conway? Why was North Conway voted the best ski town in North America? These are the questions skiers are searching for online and we’re glad to share the good news – North Conway is the place to go with plenty of ski deals, ski shops, ski condo rentals, ski packages and more!
First, a bit of clarification. The Mt Washington Chamber of Commerce represents dozens of towns in and around the greater Mt Washington Valley region including northern Carroll County and western Maine, with North Conway at its heart. But thanks to our strong reputation with North Conway recently voted the best ski town in North America, some people refer to the region as just “North Conway.” That’s OK – but let me share with you my week on skis so you can see how much further the skiing extends.
Wednesday, I took part in Mountain Meisters at Cranmore Mountain which is, indeed, in North Conway proper. Mountain Meisters is the country’s largest recreational ski race league. Every Wednesday, literally hundreds of skiers take to the NASTAR course and take timed turns. Meisters are known for being great apres skiers as well. Many locals either arrange their schedule to take Wednesdays off, while others take their runs on their lunch break (as I did). That my friends is the benefit of living and working in a ski town. Don’t live here? No worries. You can be part of the Meister scene in Zip’s Pub. It would be inaccurate to say it’s apres ski because the party is all day, indoors and out. As the days get longer and warmer, many take to the back deck to sun worship. Learn firsthand why Cranmore is known as “Tanmore.”
Are skinny skis more your style? North Conway is also known for its xc ski centers. The biggest in North America is Jackson Ski Touring just north of North Conway. My husband and I stopped at the Old Village Bakery in North Conway Village and loaded our backpack with snacks, then went to the Touring Center to wax our skis. As it was a cold and fast kind of day, we applied Klister with a coating of hard wax over it. It did the trick with just the right combination of kick and glide. Jackson has a full-service ski shop in its lodge – stop by Gorham Bike & Ski and ask for advice on waxing. We took to the Ellis River Trail to the Coco Cabin where we enjoyed our baked goods by the outdoor fire pit. Perfect!
As an outdoor fresh air junkie, I wasn’t satisfied with a few hours cross country skiing, so I tried night skiing at King Pine Purity Springs Resort once the sun set. My 21-year-old got out of work at 4:30pm so we were able to spend a few hours of quality time on the slopes together. Night skiing at King Pine is very economical, only $29 to ski ‘til 9pm. Grab a rental for only $25 and you can get your gear and a ticket for less than the cost of a lift ticket alone. Such a deal!
Sunday was a day for alpine skiing. Another way to ski North Conway is to go to Bartlett, NH and ski Attitash. Attitash has two peaks and a slopeside hotel. I got a great deal on lift tickets with a 40% discount when I bought online in advance. Check out their site for what specials they have online now. Remember that their tickets are interchangeable with Wildcat. Ski conditions have held up nicely after snow started accumulating here in October!
So if you are making plans for your February ski vacation, remember that there is more to North Conway skiing than North Conway! From Madison to Jackson, from Bretton Woods to Conway, we have dozens of ski areas to keep you busy all winter long! Look for your North Conway snow reports at SkiNorthConwayNH.com and ski and stay packages at MtWashingtonValley.org