Learn to Ski or Snowboard During Vacation

You can always teach an old dog new tricks – especially if that “old dog” has no interest in staying indoors all winter.

Central New Hampshire is well known for its ski trails, and skiers and snowboarders take over the region each weekend, vacation and school snow day every winter, according to the Lakes Region Tourism Association. The sport can be picked up at any age, and it is a fun activity for groups of adults or young families for years to come, the tourism group says.

This winter break is a perfect time to check out first-time skiing and snowboarding packages available at eight resorts in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region:

Cannon Mountain

Cannon Mountain’s Snowsports School focuses on beginners of all ages, and it even includes separate men’s and women’s programs for those interested. Children’s programs are available from one to four days. Cannon is now open for the season.

COST: Adults first-time package is $67. Children’s packages (ages 4-12) begin at $72.

INFO: Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway Ski Area, 9 Franconia Notch State Park, Franconia. 823-8800. For more information visit CannonMt.com.


Dexter’s Inn Trails by Norsk

Not everyone is looking to go straight downhill on skis or a snowboard; at Dexter’s, learn to cross-country ski! A “We Love Beginners” package combines a day pass for the trails, rental and group lesson, typically held on the weekends. Slated to open around Christmas.

COST: $30 for “We Love Beginners.” Private lessons are available by appointment.

INFO: Dexter’s Inn Trails by Norsk, 258 Stagecoach Road, Sunapee. 1-800-232-5571. For more information, visit DextersNH.com.


Gunstock Mountain Resort

Gunstock’s Mountain Magic program is designed for first-time skiers or snowboarders, and is offered to anyone 6 or older. The package includes a two-hour group lesson each day, lift tickets and rental equipment, and lessons are offered throughout the day. Gunstock is now open for the season.

COST: One-day package, $105; three-day package, $200. Request a private lesson upgrade for $50 more.

INFO: Gunstock Mountain Resort, 719 Cherry Valley Road, Gilford. 1-800-GUNSTOCK. For more information, visit Gunstock.com.


King Pine Ski Area

King Pine Ski Area, entering its 50th season, offers a first-timer ski package: a group lesson with the purchase of an all-day rental and all-day beginner lift ticket. Lessons are offered three times a day at King Pine for adults and juniors. King Pine is now open.

COST: Adults (13+): $69 for alpine or snowboard, $40 for Nordic. Juniors (8-12): $54 for alpine or snowboard, $40 for Nordic. Kids (6-7): $54 for alpine. Kids (4-5): $38 for alpine.

INFO: King Pine Ski Area at Purity Spring Resort, 1251 Eaton Road, East Madison. 1-800-373-3754. For more information, visit KingPine.com.


Loon Mountain

Full- and half-day packages are available at Loon Mountain, where children as young as 3 can strap on skis. Lessons for younger children include hot cocoa and snack breaks, and the adult group starts at age 13. Loon is now open.

COST: Packages for ages 3-6 begin at $90, $80 for ages 7-12, and $80 for ages 13+.

INFO: Loon Mountain, 60 Loon Mountain Road, Lincoln. 1-800-229-LOON. For more information, visit LoonMtn.com.


Ragged Mountain Resort

Ragged Mountain is so confident visitors can pick up the sport, instructors have dubbed their first-time program for ages 13 an older “Guaranteed Learn to Ski or Ride.” Once visitors have completed the lesson, they can move on to the “To The Top” program. Ragged Mountain is now open.

COST: “Guaranteed” is $59, “To the Top” is $100 for two visits purchased at the end of the first visit. Kids programs start at $69.

INFO: Ragged Mountain Resort, 620 Ragged Mountain Road, Danbury. 1-877-GO-SKI-RM. For more information, visit RaggedMountainResort.com.


Waterville Valley Resort

The Learn to Ski Ride at Waterville Valley is available for ages 7 and older, and a two-hour lesson is part of the resort’s inclusive beginner’s package. Two- and three-day packages are also available. Waterville Valley is now open.

COST: Starts at $75 for ages 7 and older. Incorporate a second or third day for discounts, and go online to check out a $39 online exclusive.

INFO: Waterville Valley Resort, 1 Ski Area Road, Waterville Valley. 1-800-GO-VALLEY. For more information, visit Waterville.com.


Wildcat Mountain

Wildcat Mountain instructors guarantee that adults (13 and older) will be able to make a run on its beginner area by the end of the first lesson, or the next lesson is on them! Wildcat is now open.

COST: Adult packages start at $65. Packages for children’s ages 4-12 begin at $69.

INFO: Wildcat Mountain, Route 16, Pinkham Notch. 1-888-754-9453. For more information, visit SkiWildcat.com.


Where to Stay

Once the commitment to learning to ski has been made, planning a weekend getaway around it is a must! Some resorts – such as Dexter’s, King Pine, Ragged Mountain and Waterville Valley – offer their own lodging, and there’s a wide variety of options to choose from. Resorts in the Lakes Region offer rooms, apartments, condos, suites, cabins and even houses to stay in, making it simple to head to the chairlift in the morning or rest on the sofa at night.

In addition, within minutes of each resort are a number of hotels and inns. Visit the Where to Stay page on the LRTA website for more options.


Where to Eat

To keep up energy levels, hydration and eating well are a must! Lakes Region ski resorts feature snack bars, cafeterias, pubs and dining rooms. Fuel up on a healthy amount of carbs and protein in between runs.

Of course, a day on the slopes wouldn’t be complete without warming up at the end of the day with a mug of hot chocolate, or even celebrating the victory of surviving the first lesson with a couple of pints. Lakes Region restaurants have options for all appetites, from classic New England cooking to ethnic cuisine, and from diners and cafes to fine-dining establishments.

To learn more about the quality meals being served in the region, check out the LRTA’s Where to Dine webpage.


Where to Shop

Prior to the first lesson, a little shopping is in order! The right outfit will make the experience all the more pleasant. The Lakes Region’s mountains can get quite chilly; dressing in layers is a must. Avoid clothing made of cotton, which dries slowly and can get heavier throughout the day. Thick socks and waterproof gloves are also good choices. Pants should be able to fit over ski boots, and be sure to practice bending in them for ultimate comfort. A jacket with a removable lining is ideal, especially if the temperature starts to rise. Hats, headbands and goggles are also smart choices.

The LRTA highly recommends the region’s year-round, tax-free shops as a source for winter sports needs. The Tilton outlets are a sure bet for a good find, and the LRTA also recommends other area stores for the best in outerwear, which can be found on the Where to Shop page.


First-Time Tips

The LRTA offers a few tips to remember:

  • Use sunscreen. The face is oftentimes exposed to the elements, and skin damage can be done in any weather conditions.
  • Pack a snack. Ski jackets have plenty of pockets, which makes it easy to throw in a granola bar.
  • Bring a friend. It will make the experience more enjoyable, and the buddy system is handy in case of an injury once visitors move on to the slopes.
  • Be aware of surroundings. Some skiers move fast, and a fun day can end quickly when someone doesn’t pay attention.
  • Check conditions. Call ahead to see if the snow is optimal for a beginner; snow that’s too firm or icy is difficult to learn on.

The Lakes Region Tourism Association is the official tourism board of the region, representing close to 100 communities, 273 lakes and ponds, and more than 400 businesses in central New Hampshire, including area attractions, restaurants, retail establishments and accommodations. For more information or visitors guides, visit LakesRegion.org or follow at facebook.com/NHLakesRegion or twitter.com/LakesRegionNH.

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