I remember when going to a ski area was all about skiing. You skied, or you read a book in the base lodge, or stole a cafeteria tray and found a snow bank to slide on.
Now ski resorts offer a plethora of pastimes above and beyond just skiing (they still frown upon cafeteria tray races however). With today's high speed lifts, and people's short attention spans - ski areas have met the demand for increased downhill thrills by added alpine amenities - and they are quite the rage.
New England ski resorts are adding zip lines and canopy tours faster than you can say "but I just came to ski." Bretton Woods, Loon, Gunstock, Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Smugglers, and Okemo all have winter zip lines. You can ski your requisite runs in the morning, then zip over the slopes in the afternoon suspended on a cable that descends at speeds of up to 55 mph at Gunstock for example. Gunstock opened the longest zip line canopy tour in the continental United States last season - with extraordinary views of Lake Winnipesaukee. I have zipped at Gunstock and its way more exhilarating than a cafeteria tray slide. Mind you, this wild winter ride is an add on expense to your ski day. Loon is $26 per zip and Sugarloaf is $39, while Gunstock and Okemo are $69 and $79 respectively, Bretton Woods is at the high end at $99 but that is for a zip and ski ticket.
Mountain Coasters are another adrenaline inducing alpine attraction you will find at Attitash, Okemo, Jiminy Peak, and Cranmore, plus Park City and Breckenridge out west. These bobsled style cars on rails descend snowy hillsides and reach speeds of 30mph. The cost of one mountain coaster ride is a $13 at Okemo, $12 at Attitash and Cranmore, and $7 at Jiminy Peak - $12 if you buy the combo with the Soaring Eagle ride. So when you hit the slopes, consider mixing up your mountain adventure with a zip, slide, ride. We have come a long way from the cafeteria tray.
See you on the slopes. Photos by Greg Burke
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.