For one of the smallest states in the country, New Hampshire sure offers a lot of great skiing. With so many excellent options to pick from, you can visit or settle in one of the best ski towns in “The Granite State” and never be far from exploring the others.
To help you get started with your New Hampshire skiing adventures, this article is going to highlight some of the best mountain towns with a ski resort or few nearby that the state has to offer. There is something here for everyone, and the vibe is decidedly laidback and rural, despite not being far from the hustle and bustle of cities like Boston and New York.
Here are the top ski towns in New Hampshire to live and visit, in no particular order:
As one of the best ski destinations in New Hampshire, Carroll is a prime place for a winter holiday or year-round romp. Found in the northern portion of the state, the Mount Washington Resort is the primary attraction for those visiting on a ski vacation. It’s located at the base of Mount Washington or “Agiocochook” in a native language, which is the highest mountain in the Northeast USA at 6,288.2 ft (1,916.6 m).
The village of Bretton Woods sits at the base of the resort, housing fewer than 100 year-round residents. Bretton Woods resides within the cozy town of Carroll, which also offers appealing housing for those who intend to call this area home. It’s only a three-hour drive north from Boston on I-93 to reach Carroll, which has a population of fewer than 1,000 people.
This is a great starting point to access the White Mountains, and you’ll find several lodging options in town, along with popular local dining options along US-3. For alpine skiing in New Hampshire, it’s hard to beat what you’ll find at Mount Washington Resort near Carroll. Some of the key stats include –
- 464 acres of skiing, making it the largest ski area in the state
- 1,500 feet of vertical drop from a summit elevation of 3,100 feet
- 10 lifts serve a total of 98 trails and glades
Like most of the other ski areas in the state, the typical season runs from late November to the start of April – or maybe the middle of April in a good year. This is not the destination for skiers who want a lively, active nightlife scene after the skiing is done for the day. When you come to Carroll, it’s the slopes that are going to be your top priority.
Only a short drive south from Carroll, you’ll find the town of Madison, New Hampshire, and the King Pine Ski Area. While not as big as the Mount Washington Resort we discussed above, there is a lot to like about skiing at King Pine and spending time in Madison. To get here, it’s only a little more than two hours north of Boston, using a combination of I-95 and NH-16.
Madison had a population of 2,575 as of the 2020 Census. If you are looking for a ski town to call home throughout the year, you’ll also like the summer recreation options that are available near Madison. Specifically, exploring the waters of Silver Lake and Ossipee Lake is popular, as it hiking throughout the hills and forests of the region.
Getting back to the skiing, one of the terrific things about King Pine, and something you don’t find at all of the New Hampshire ski areas is the diversity of runs found here. A group that needs both bunny hills and diamond runs to keep everyone happy will have a great time on this hill. There is even a tubing park to keep the kids happy, and plenty of snowshoe trails if anyone in your party is not a skier or boarder.
A visit to Wolfeboro would be a nod to an appreciation of old-school ski hills. You won’t find many amenities here, and it’s a small ski area to be sure. However, with the designation of being the country’s oldest small ski area, the experience provided at Wolfeboro is one worth taking the time to soak in.
When driving from either Boston or Portland, ME, you’re only a couple of hours from arriving in Wolfeboro. This is the largest city on our list so far, with 6,416 full-time residents in 2020. It carries a couple of mottos, including “The Oldest Summer Resort in America” and “The Jewel of Lake Winnipesaukee”.
A community-operated and owned resort, there are just seven trails here at Abenaki Ski Area, along with some snowmaking capabilities. But it’s more about the atmosphere and camaraderie than anything else. Don’t expect to wait in line to get on a lift, and you won’t have to spend much on your lift ticket, either. Off of the hill, the enjoyable town is just down the street, with a beautiful waterfront location on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.
For skiers who like plenty of diversity in their skiing experience, setting up shop in Lebanon, NH may be the way to go. When in Lebanon, which sits near the Vermont border and had a population of 14,282 at the 2020 census, you’ll have close access to three different ski areas. Those three downhill options are as follows –
- Storrs Hill Ski Area in Lebanon — This small hill is right in town, so you’ll barely have gotten the car warmed up by the time you arrive. At only 20 acres and 300 vertical feet, you aren’t going to be testing your skills here – but it is a friendly, comfortable place to get out in the snow and freshen up your skills. Also, night skiing is available, so it could be a great choice after you come back from one of the bigger ski areas.
- Dartmouth Skiway in Lyme Center — If the name sounds familiar, that’s no surprise – Dartmouth College of the Ivy League is located in nearby Hanover. A property of the college, the Skiway has a long tradition in the area and offers solid skiing conditions for a fair price. There are two sides to the ski area – Winslow and Holt’s Ledge – which combine to provide more than 100 skiable acres and a vertical drop of almost 1,000 feet.
- Whaleback Mountain in Enfield — Another option to get out on the slopes near Lebanon is Whaleback Mountain just to the southeast of town. A single chair serves this ski area, which has some double black diamond runs, in addition to plenty of novice paths to explore.
Back in town, many outstanding restaurants are available to check out, as well as some lodging options and some cultural experiences like an art gallery and a music center. You could easily call Lebanon home for the winter and find yourself with plenty to do and see both on the slopes and beyond.
The town of Bennington is found roughly in the middle of the southern part of New Hampshire, meaning it’s within easy reach of the rest of the state with just a short drive. So, if you’re wanting a ski town that will not only provide you with direct access to the slopes but also a reasonable drive to many other skiing options, Bennington is a great pick. And, it’s only two hours from Boston, so you can get here quickly if you are coming up from the big city.
Although it has a population of barely 1,500 people, there are some good local restaurants to try. They are a nice way to unwind after a day of skiing and will help you get to know the town a little better.
The skiing you do here will be at Crotched Mountain Resort. As with most ski areas in New Hampshire, it’s not the raw stats that will impress you – this hill provides 1,000 feet of vertical drop and just over 100 acres of skiing – but the variety of trails and other features will lead to a fun day in the end.
There are 25 trails divided up relatively evenly across the beginner, intermediate, and expert categories, and you’ll also find two terrain parks. One of the benefits of a ski area that has only around 100 acres is that the entire property is covered by snowmaking technology. So, if the weather isn’t cooperating particularly well, you should still be able to have a nice time on the slopes.
It’s often the case that college towns make some of the best ski towns, and that’s the case in Plymouth. The amenities that get built up around a college – like relatively affordable housing, restaurants, and entertainment – also serve skiers well, whether they’re moving in or just coming for a few days.
When you picture a relaxed, peaceful northeast town free from the bustle of the big cities, what you’re picturing looks a lot like Plymouth. The population here is just under 7,000, although as a college town, that will fluctuate throughout the year.
As for the skiing, it’s the Tenney Mountain Ski Resort that will have your attention in this area. There are 1,400 vertical feet to explore here, and like at Crotched Mountain, just a little over 100 skiable acres are available.
One feature that sets this ski area apart from many others in the region is the presence of some backcountry terrain to explore. There is also a bar and grill at the mountain to allow you to refuel and head back out for more runs before the daylight fades.
There are plenty of wonderful ski experiences – and ski towns – waiting to be discovered in New Hampshire. No, you won’t find the dramatic views and staggering elevation changes here that you would find out west in the Rockies, but skiing in this New England destination has plenty to offer and a strong ski culture exists in this region for a reason.
Whether you plan to visit for a ski trip or find a new ski town to call home, New Hampshire is worthy of your attention.