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To Ski or Not to Ski: At Waterville Valley Resort, that is the question with lots of answers. It all started in the mid-1960s, when two-time Olympic ski racer Tom Corcoran was scouring New England looking for a mountain he could develop into a Western-style, year-round ski resort. When he saw Waterville – which had a couple of rope tows and trails, an inn, and 500 acres for sale – Corcoran knew it was the place. For the next thirty or so years Waterville Valley grew slowly and steadily into “the” place to ski in the East - or Not to Ski.
If skiing is your thing, Waterville Valley Resort offers 250 skiable acres with snowmaking ability on every trail. The ski area peaks at 4,004 feet, has a vertical drop of 2,020 feet, with 52 trails and 12 lifts. But for those who like their skiing with a little less altitude, Waterville Valley’s Nordic Center features 75 km of wide groomed trails, again with terrain for every ability level, groomed daily for both skate and classic skiing styles. Skiers take off from the rental center in the Valley’s quaint Town Square, or just step out the door of their vacation rental—the trails are only steps away from most of the accommodations in the valley. Once on the trail, you’ll enjoy incredible views of the surrounding White Mountain National Forest.
Waterville Valley features trails and activities for all ages and abilities. From Kids’ Venture Kamps to the Silver Streaks over-50 ski club, from alpine to Nordic, boarders and hot-doggers, there’s something for every level of skier.
For young skiers, age 3 to 12, Kids Venture Kamps provide their own ski rental facility in the base lodge—no more jockeying for position with adults and older kids. A day of Venture Kamp includes lessons, rentals, lunch and even a snack for the youngest skiers. Resort staff makes sure participants have the right boots, helmets and skis or snowboards. Then it’s out to the slopes, with specially designed Venture Zones ranging from Kinderpark to the black diamond True Grit. Kids can sign up for Kids Venture Kamp for a day or an entire season. For the more mature skier, there are individual and group lessons, as well as lessons for family groups.
Seniors have their own group, the Silver Streaks , the longest running senior skiing program in the country. Silver Streak members meet several times a week for fun, friendship, and coffee in the lodge. The club provides special clinics for members only, a weekly après–ski party, banquets twice each season, and the opportunity to hang with some of the fittest seniors in the country. No one gets left out of the fun at Waterville Valley.
The resort sponsors the Waterville Adaptive Snowsports program which teams physically and mentally challenged children and adults with caring volunteers who help them enjoy the thrill of skiing, free from the encumbrance of wheelchairs or braces.Stop for a warm up and a snack at the trailside-warming hut, or return to the Nordic Center and sit by the fire.
So, what if you’re not into skiing? You’ve still come to the right place. Waterville Valley is known for its wide variety of activities year-round, and winter is no exception. At the heart of many of these activities is the Curious George Cottage , once home to Margret and H.A Rey, the creators of the world’s most beloved monkey, Curious George. Today, the cottage is maintained by the Margret and H.A Rey Center, whose mission is to honor the Rey's legacy by recreating the rich intellectual and creative environment they provided when they lived in the valley.
The Curious Kids program takes children and families into the White Mountain National Forest that surrounds Waterville Valley for nature-based learning experiences. Every Saturday afternoon, the Center hosts chalk talks — just like the ones H.A. Rey used to do -- featuring characters from the Reys’ books.
Each month, experts from the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium and local members of the New Hampshire Astronomical Society present stargazing sessions--with its dark skies, free of the glare from over-development, Waterville Valley is the perfect place to check out what’s happening in the heavens.
Then there are literary groups, writers workshops, snowshoe hikes, discussion clubs, and lectures series.
If you prefer ice to snow, check out the Waterville Valley Ice Arena adjacent to Town Square. A year-round facility, the arena provides open skating, rentals and lessons for all ages. Youngsters and adults who dream of Olympic glory can also sign up for figure skating and hockey lessons, along with youth hockey league tournaments.
A short walk from Town Square is the White Mountain Athletic Club , with swimming, whirlpools, saunas, weight rooms, and cardiovascular room. Having exercised, you won’t feel guilty about going upstairs to enjoy the cutting-edge cuisine at the Wild Coyote Grill , recently featured in Best Restaurants of New England.
Waterville Valley’s recreation department also sponsors a wide range of activities for all ages including open gym with toys and sports equipment for all ages, yoga, games, crafts, cooking for kids, indoor cycling, water fitness, basketball, and more. The recreation department also hosts special events, including the popular Waterville Idol, where visitors and locals vie for the top honors and join the audience in a sing-along of old Waterville favorites.
Then there’s Shakespeare in the Valley , which presents the Bard’s classics as he did, in the interactive, audience-pleasing style of the time.
If shopping is your game, the Village at Town Square offers a variety of shopping experiences, from books and music to clothing and accessories, souvenirs and specialty gifts—all tax-free.
When it comes time for après–ski —or après–whatever activity you choose—you’ll find that Waterville Valley has a wide range of accommodations in which to relax, from single rooms to condo rentals suitable for large parties.
To ski or not to ski? At Waterville Valley, it’s up to you.