Last year was a long one and we’re all ready for fresh adventures. It seems everyone wants to hit the slopes this winter season! With that said, all resorts across New England are operating under limited capacity. And skiers are reporting very long lines at some of the larger ski spots as everyone arrives all at once from winter quarantine.
Pssst! To avoid all that queueing, we’ll let you in on the best kept secret of 2021—the slopes here in the Monadnock Region! While COVID protocols have, of course, altered the experience in the name of safety, our local resorts are less cramped, well-organized, and running smoothly in spite of high demand.
With a little patience and additional planning, you can expect to encounter smaller crowds and maybe even more slope time, all while soaking in New Hampshire’s spectacular winter scenery. The overall experience will look very different than in previous years. But a positive outlook is vital in every adventure and this one is certain to be memorable!
Stop Here First
Before you plan your visit, please pop over to Ski NH’s COVID-19 Consumer Resource Center. Here you will find all the details necessary to make informed decisions around your travel planning. For instance, at the moment, the two-week self-quarantine period has been lifted for people traveling to NH from the neighboring New England states of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. This is great news, but may be subject to change.
Once you have a safe travel plan in place, Crotched Mountain in Bennington, NH is a fantastic destination. It boasts one hundred acres of groomed terrain with four terrain parks and twenty-five trails. The resort utilizes 100 percent fan guns for snowmaking and sources the majority of their electricity from renewable energy. Night owls won’t want to miss this stop as this is the only mountain on the East Coast open until 12 midnight for a continuously running Midnight Madness. (Photo courtesy of Crotched Mountain.)
Begin by pre-scheduling your lift passes online at Crotched Mountain and making yourself a reservation at the gorgeous and historic Hancock Inn, circa 1789. Here you’ll find yourself an incredibly brief, yet scenic, 10-minute drive from the slopes.
At the inn, be sure to plan and reserve your times for dinner, as space is limited and specific arrival times for seating are required. The inn has published this information and more in a comprehensive ‘Stay Safe Plan’ with all the details you need prior to arrival for a safe and enjoyable experience.
After breakfast, walk across the street to the Hancock Market for provisions. Crotched Mountain is recommending that at a minimum, guests bring their own snacks and water. Quick service meals will be available at the mountain with limited seating capacity.
Bringing a bagged lunch is a smart option as well, and many deliciously curated ‘market meals’ are conveniently available at the Hancock Market. Think tourtière (meat pie), artisan cheeses, pierogi, or homemade soups. Yum! Now you’re almost ready to head to the mountain.
This year, as lockers and changing spaces are limited, changing into gear ahead of time for the short ride and booting up at your car may be prudent and will shorten your lead time to the trails. (Don’t forget your masks!)
When you arrive, you will have already secured your lift tickets online and all other transactions will be cashless. All 2021 Crotched Mountain Resort information you’ll need to know before you go is located here.
This includes new chairlift policies for this season. According to their site, families will ride together and no one will be asked to ride with someone they do not know. Be sure to familiarize yourself and your party with these changes ahead of time so you will be ready to hit the slopes with confidence and make the most of your visit.
Fun for All
Another local favorite is Pat’s Peak in Henniker, NH which offers 100% snow coverage across terrains for all skill levels plus tubing! Novices will love having three separate areas dedicated as beginners’ spaces. Their COVID-procedures and trip-planning information is located here.
Food is available with limited indoor seating and expanded, heated outdoor seating. Cash-free transactions are preferred. This year they are running special Pay-One-Price (POP) Saturday Nights, during which you can get discounted prices on lift tickets, rentals, lesson tips, tubing, and entertainment options from 3-10pm. Load the Pat’s Peak App on your phone for easy planning and access to tickets (pre-scheduling required), food purchases, trail maps, trail/lift status, and weather.
If you want to make your ski trip an overnight, check out the Jack Daniels Motor Inn (shown below) in Peterborough for a stay in one of the inn’s private, spacious rooms which offer comfort and amenities that will make your stay memorable. Check out their Ski, Stay, and Save packages for a number of skiing options that are fairly close to the inn.
This year certainly looks different, but we are all excited to make the most of it with the three P’s: Positivity, Planning, and Patience. Wear a mask, stay socially-distant, and have fun on the slopes!