Plan a Ski Trip to Sunapee Mountain in New Hampshire


With some savvy trip planning, I think Sunapee makes an excellent choice for a family ski trip or a girls' getaway.

Mount Sunapee is tucked into the middle of New Hampshire and remains a lesser-known ski destination for most in New England. It's about 90 minutes from Boston and has some of the best skiing in the state with breathtaking views overlooking Lake Sunapee.

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The mountain seems to be used mostly for locals and day-trippers, since it sits on State Park land, it lacks ski-in/ski-out accommodations that many destination resorts offer. But what it lacks in convenient accommodations, it makes up for in charm, views and terrain. This is a terrific mountain for intermediate and beginner skiers to enjoy a wide variety of skiing and riding in a thoughtful layout.

After Vail's purchase of the mountain in 2018, there were issues with traffic on Route 103 and long weekend lift lines. Vail has thrown money at the problem and increased wages to attract talent to the resort. With some savvy trip planning, I think Sunapee makes an excellent choice for a family ski trip or a girls' getaway.

Learning to Ski at Mount Sunapee

Beginners have a sheltered area way off to the side of the main base area. This is a good (and bad) thing. It's good because it protects newbies from feeling panic when a fast skier or rider zips by. I know when I was learning hearing the scraping sound behind me put me in a panic that I was going to get squashed. 

The beginner area has a lovely progression to it. There are magic carpets (moving walkways that take skiers up the gentle inclines). Next they can move to the Clipper Ship Quad Lift to progress up to the easy/green slopes. The beginner area even has some easy glades to enjoy. 

On the downside, the rental area is quite a distance from the beginner hill. It's a schlep on a good day, on a cold blustery day, it might lead to some tears. The best plan is to use a two-adult system. One parent gets the kids and gear to the lesson, the other adult parks the car. 

If you've got beginner skills under your belt, you can head to one of the other 4 lifts in the base area. While that's a lot of options, it's a fairly manageable base area and won't lead to too much confusion. 

Ski and snowboard lessons start at age 4 for group lessons. With an Epic Pass, lessons start at $167 for a group lesson, per day.

Mountain Layout and Statistics

Mount Sunapee Resort is in the Appalachian mountain range  located in Mount Sunapee State Park in Newbury, New Hampshire.

  • Vertical: 1,513 ft (461 m)
  • Top elevation: 2,743 ft (836 m)
  • Skiable area: 230 acres
  • Runs: 66 --26% beginner/48% intermediate/26% expert
  • Lifts: 9, including 3 quad chairs (two high-speed), 2 triple chairs, 4 surface lifts
  • 4 terrain parks
  • Annual snowfall: 100”
  • Snowmaking: 97% of the terrain

The Spruce Triple Lift services the parks area and is close to Goosefeather's Lodge and the rental building. 

The North Peak Triple Lift is close to the race competition center. Sunapee has a strong racing culture and on my visit we saw a local high school series. Sunapee has a number of race and competition programs starting at age 6 and running through high school. For more information visit

The Sunapee Express is the main lift that moves folks up and out of the base area. This is where we spent most of our time. It's next to the newest Base Lodge where you can get tickets, a bite to eat and stash your gear. The two-story lodge is closest to the beginner area. The Base Lodge also has a shop, in case you forgot any gear. 

Arrive early to get the best parking spot. We skied mid-week, so we were able to walk right to the lifts. If you sleep in and find yourself in a satellite lot, you'll need to hop on the shuttle to get you to the base area. I'm told on busy weekends, folks have to park pretty far out. Plan ahead!

Skiing Mount Sunapee

My favorite thing about Sunapee was the terrain. We had spectacular views of Lake Sunapee from the top. From there, we had so many choices, one better than the next. The majority of the runs are wide open -- allowing a lot of skiers the joy of picking a line and skiing safely. 

Many of the runs go one for more than a mile. My favorites were the Ridge Run (coming in over two miles!) and Skyway. With a high-speed quad and no lift lines, we were in heaven.

After getting in an exceptional amount of vertical feet in a short amount of time, my friend and I were hungry. We stopped into the Summit Cafe for a bite. This cafe has an expansive wrap-around deck that affords skiers and riders a stunning view of New Hampshire. 

Once inside, warm up by the hearth. There's some exceptional artwork and a real wood-burning fireplace. We opted for chili (yep, it was $10+ per bowl) with corn bread and then some Bubbly brand water. It was 11am and a Thursday, we noted that we were the ONLY people who didn't seem to be drinking beer. While we never saw anyone skiing out of control, I did ponder the beverage choices, but that is ski culture. 

Speaking of culture, it's hard not to miss the friendliness of the staff at Sunapee. Everyone we interacted with was extremely nice. Job satisfaction seems to be strong after the Vail purchase. Vail invested $175 million in employee wages for the 2022/2023 ski season. The plan includes a $20 per hour minimum wage that increases to $21 per hour for employees with specialized skills, like ski patrollers and maintenance technicians. Two of my favorite lifties had a sign over at the Sunbowl Express Lift asking a "question of the day" on our visit it was: "What is the State Food of New Hampshire."

Sunapee offers adaptive programs with The New England Healing Sports Association or “NEHSA” is a seven-day a week non-profit program staffed by volunteers. It is one of the oldest adaptive snow sports learning centers on the east coast with its inception in 1972. NEHSA was founded as a non-profit organization run by and for individuals with disabilities who wanted to enjoy active and independent lives through participation in sports. Please visit the NEHSA website for a full program overview or call 603-763-9158 or e-mail INFO@NEHSA.ORG.

Getting to Mount Sunapee

I came in from Central Vermont and I had about a two hour drive, but most Sunapee visitors are local or arrive from Boston. From Boston, the drive is 90 minutes.

Some folks think that moving to the Epic pass has put a strain on this mountain. I'm not sure that Vail is the villain here. The resort is accessed by small roads and has limited parking because it's a state park. To manage your visit, consider going mid-week like we did. If you are traveling on weekends, try to carpool and plan to arrive early. 

During peak time periods make use of the free shuttle service.

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Mountain Edge Suites, they are located right at the edge of the state park, about 5 minutes from the lift. These rooms are perfect for a family. While not fancy, they are clean, and well-appointed with kitchens that come equipped to handle basic kitchen needs. There's no restaurant on property, so I recommend bringing some basic groceries to make a simple pasta dinner. Breakfast is complementary and included nice fresh options like fruit and muffins as well as cold cereals.

The Mountain Edge has both and indoor pool and a hot tub. The pool area was spotless and the hot tub was just what was needed after an active day on the slopes. 1380 route 103, Newbury, NH 03255. Book the Mountain Edge here.

Where to Eat 

On-mountain dining is fairly standard. There's a cafeteria in the base area with the basics (fries, pizza, etc.), the Summit Lodge (great for soups and chili...and yes, beer) and then Goosefeathers Pub located in the Spruce Lodge. Goosefeathers is a fun sports pub with a big large space and a fun menu. You'll find everything from salads to the hearty curly fries. My favorite item was the pretzel bites that are served warm with a cheese dip. Yum! The servers were super friendly and they spot is the place to get your apres ski drink or local brew.

Off mountain, I highly recommend Tucker's. It's a small chain that's only in New Hampshire that makes an incredible breakfast. On our way home after a morning at the slopes, my friend and I stopped in to recap the trip and refuel. The food was delish. The skillets are the way to go, a melange of all the best breakfast foods assembled into one plate. And free coffee refills! Find out more www.tuckersnh.comTuckers, 207 Main Street, New London, NH

For a fancier dinner, we went to The Coach House. It was about 20 minutes away at a charming little inn. The inn is set to get a refresh soon and will be a nice romantic spot to plan a ski getaway. We ordered the beet salad and lamb chops (x2) and were not disappointed. The meat was done perfectly and the salad was crisp and tasty. I will 100% go back to both these places on my next trip. Located at the New London Inn, 353 Main St, New London, NH 03257. Book the New London Inn here.

Overall, I was thrilled with the on-snow experience at Sunapee. The area is definitely underdeveloped which puts the focus on outdoor fun. Families can still make a budget-friendly trip here once they have the Epic pass purchased. The area surrounding the resort is unfussy. Keep in mind there is not a ton to do here besides skiing. There's a small outdoor ice rink in Sunapee by the Veteran's field (not sure if they rent skates). For families with school aged and younger kids, and for retired folks, this is the ideal spot for a mid-week ski trip.


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