Looking for a few inside tips? The Globe has surveyed the scene from top to bottom and taken notes:
Best winter zip
Bretton Woods runs its zip-line canopy tours year-round, giving thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts another way to experience winter in the White Mountains. Descending more than 1,000 feet, the guided treetop tours feature suspension bridges and hiking trails that connect the zip lines, ending with an adrenaline rush of a drop on the Williwaw Racing Zip, a high-speed line that finishes with a flourish into the Bretton Woods base area. A two-day combo ticket that packages a canopy ride one day with Alpine skiing the next is available for $99 (midweek) or $129 (weekends).
Best photo opportunities
Where’s the best place to snap a panoramic photo while on skis in the Granite State? Simply for its awe-inspiring enormity, the stunning view of Mount Washington on a sunny day from any of Wildcat Mountain’s upper trails is a difficult photo-op to trump. A close second is the vista of Lake Winnipesaukee as seen from the Flintlock trail atop Gunstock. This is a great shot in springtime when the lake is thawing but the rolling foothills are still buried in snow (this shot also includes Mount Washington, but it’s 50 miles away in the background).
Best game on the slopes
Legendary Taos Ski Valley founder Ernie Blake was noted for hiding pitchers of martinis in the trees for his friends in the New Mexico ski resort. Ski patrollers at Ragged Mountain in Danbury hide something, too - a pink flamingo lawn ornament named Sweeps. The new tradition started as a lark last season among the rescue crew, who played an internal game of hide and seek. It has evolved into a daily game with the skiing and riding public. The first person to find Sweeps, stashed somewhere on the resort, gets a free lift ticket for another day of skiing (maximum of two per season).
Best horsepower on skis
Imagine a sport that combines speed and agility while skiing through a frozen obstacle course. Then - just to make things interesting - add the explosive power of a horse careening at 35 miles per hour, towing the skier on a rope. That’s the gist of equine skijoring, and while it sounds like a reckless winter rodeo, it’s actually an organized international activity headquartered in New Hampshire. Each team (horse, rider, and skier) must negotiate a 1,000-foot course that features slalom gates, “jousting rings’’ that the skier must grab, and ramps from 2-6 feet in height for the skier. The North American Ski Joring Association (www.nasja.com
) has two sanctioned events in the Granite State, on the New London town common (Jan. 30-31) and at Parlin Field Airport in Newport (Feb. 13-14).
Best Olympic connection
Waterville Valley is linked to a load of Olympians, such as founder Tom Corcoran (1960) and snowboarder Michelle Gorgone and mogul masher Hannah Kearney (both 2006). To keep the connection alive, they are offering select $21 lessons (skiing and riding) to commemorate the upcoming 21st Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The special is for the weekends of Dec. 12-13, Jan. 9-10, and March 20-21. It includes a beginner lesson, rental, and novice lift ticket. Two-time Olympian Kris Freeman trains at Waterville, and they’ll host a Nordic special during the January deal.
Best way to double up
Granite State resorts are fiercely competitive when it comes to 2-for-1 lift ticket deals, with every midweek day covered: Gunstock has 2-for-$56 Mondays. Waterville Valley goes 2-for-$67 on Mondays and Fridays. Crotched (2-for-$44) and Ragged (2-for-$52) have Tuesdays covered. Cannon discounts Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2-for-$66. Sunapee (2-for-$64), Wildcat (2-for-$65), and Bretton Woods (2-for-$66) all feature Wednesday deals. King Pine goes 2-for-$44 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. At Cranmore, Mondays through Thursdays are 2-for-$55, provided the tickets are purchased online.
Best deal for the older crowd
Black Mountain has an aggressive series of midweek promotions, but the best of the bunch is the Breakfast Club deal on Thursdays for skiers over age 55. For $20, soon-to-be senior citizens get a lift ticket, hot breakfast, and complimentary coffee in a take-home souvenir Black Mountain travel mug.
Best birthday celebration
Black Mountain, the state’s oldest operating ski area, will celebrate its 75th birthday this season with a whirlwind of events, including a Winter Break College Fest Jan. 3-14 with $15 midweek tickets for college students ($25 weekends), the Shovel Handle Pub Race Jan. 17, and a free day of skiing Jan. 23 for anyone who has worked at the ski area.
Best measuring stick
Everyone, no matter where they learned to ski, can recall a particular breakthrough run where confidence and competence came together. For me, the first time I ever linked the twisty, turn-and-churn transition of Cannon Mountain’s Upper, Middle, and Lower Cannon intermediate trails into an all-or-nothing descent down the intimidating steeps of black-diamond Avalanche, I knew I was hooked for good. Over the years, that particular sequence of trails has held up as a reliable measuring stick for friends and family who are advancing as skiers.
Best break for prime-time skiing
If your time on the mountain is limited to weekends and holidays, the trade group Ski New Hampshire (www.skinh.com
) has put together a decent deal for the upcoming season. The association’s “Anywhere, Anytime’’ packages allow consumers to put together a block of 12 lift tickets using tiered, discounted pricing at 18 member resorts. Tickets are valid any day of the season, and best of all, they’re transferable.
Best way to double your fun
Can’t make up your mind whether to ski or ride? Crotched Mountain has a liberal policy on equipment rentals: Customers who rent either skis or snowboard equipment are allowed to switch back and forth as they please, so guests can experience the best of both snow sports in one outing.
Best endurance test
Jackson Ski Touring Foundation has come up with an Olympian task: Ski as much of the groomed trail network in one day as you can. The Groomed Trail Challenge is set for Feb. 21, with estimates of some 130 kilometers possible that day. Competitors can ski from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Do it solo or as a team of two or three. Organizers recommend bringing water, an extra hat and gloves, and pencil and paper to record your progress. There is only one required piece of gear - a cellphone, in case you run out of gas.
Best terrain park addition
Terrain park connoisseurs are getting a lift at Pats Peak. The 22-trail Henniker area plans to add a third terrain park this season with jumps and rails for crackerjack freestyle skiers and riders. Instead of hiking, park rats can take a surface lift to the new F5 park. Want to hike? Find some of the hush-hush glades they’re opening this season.
Best deal for the full experience
Great Glen Trails offers an all-inclusive Trails Total
Ticket that combines five of the outdoor center’s activities for a discounted price. The pass includes Nordic or snowshoe rentals, a trail pass, access to the tubing hill, a session on the 25-foot indoor climbing wall, and a 75-minute SnowCoach tour above the tree line on the Mount Washington Auto Road. The package costs $69 for adults and $49 for kids.
Best distribution of season passes
Laid-back Bear Notch Ski Touring Center sometimes gets lost in the luster of its Nordic neighbors, but the 65-kilometer Bartlett trail system near Attitash is a shining example of Yankee kindness and resourcefulness. Last weekend they gave out about 75 free season passes to kids 8 to 18 during their open house. When Mother Nature is stingy with snow, the Garland brothers are known to incorporate man-moved snow to the trails. “Hopefully we won’t have to do that this season,’’ said Doug Garland, “but we do whatever it takes.’’
Best long-distance destination
The Balsams is a haul - more than 220 miles from Boston - but there’s a good chance afternoon corduroy awaits on the winding trails of the resort’s Wilderness ski area. There aren’t any high-speed quads for the 1,000 feet of vertical and 16 trails at the grand resort, but there are plenty of gentle cruisers that last about 2 miles. Classic groomers include snaking Magalloway and benign Monadnock. For an old-school romp, try the double black diamond Notch trail from the summit, the least challenging expert run in New England as it’s rated for its narrowness and turns, not its pitch.
■Coming next Thursday: the “bests’’ of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
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