Stunning views from the top of the mountain commend Gunstock Mountain Resort to skiers of all stripes and types. Combine this with an old-school approach to downhill skiing and snowboarding, as well as a number of other winter activities and a commitment to both locals and out-of-towners alike, and you have yourself a New England resort with all the right family-friendly ingredients. And of course, being in the heart of a four-season recreational area that’s only two hours from Boston doesn’t hurt Gunstock's popularity either.
Like many area ski areas, Gunstock underwent a major modernization and makeover in the mid-1980s. An initial investment of $10 million brought changes in the lift network, as well as widening and reworking of many of the mountain’s trails. Then, about 10 years ago, another $13 million increased snowmaking capacity and added a quad chairlift that cut ride times to the top of the mountain in half.
These are features that have enhanced Gunstock’s value for families with a budget-conscious focus towards their skiing experiences.
With other New Hampshire resorts increasingly marketing to destination skiers and families from afar, Gunstock continues to attract a mix of locals and day-trippers from an hour or two away. The fact that you’ll always find snow on the mountain is a real plus too, and it has helped bring back families for repeat winter visits.
Considered a middle-sized ski mountain by New Hampshire’s standards, downhillers will find 227 acres of varied terrain and some short, steep trails on the mountain’s east-facing front. There are also a number of glades—open when the availability of natural snow permits (like the winter of 2014-15 provided)—which will challenge the skill level of upper-end skiers.
But Gunstock’s niche still remains geared toward the beginner through intermediate skiers.
As most people can attest to, initiating young skiers into the sport of skiing can sometimes be a rather daunting task. Luckily, Gunstock has several learn-to-ski programs, like their Base Camp program, with specifically designed half and full day programs for each age group beginning at three-years-old and up.
For first time skiers or snowboarders age 6 or older, Gunstock offers the nationally recognized and award-winning instruction program, Mountain Magic. Based on a concept of terrain-based learning and putting beginners and novices on specially constructed rollers, berms, and mini-halfpipes, the program is designed to help newcomers get a feeling for what it will be like live on the hill and use their natural movements to shift skis or snowboards from edge to edge. Included in this is a package are Head rental skis or Burton snowboards, lift tickets, and group instruction from patient and passionate instructors.
Another popular lesson option are private lessons that allow parents and children to bond on the slopes together. With one-hour private lessons, your child will gain skills, and you will be then be able to ski with your child between lessons. The lessons are available daily at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Parents must be a lower mountain skier or better.
Another thing Gunstock has going for it in terms of appealing to the whole family is its main lodge. Built in 1937, this historic building is home to a three-story fireplace with lots of tables, basic supplementary food, as well as lockers, and basket storage, and it's the perfect place to decompress after a morning or afternoon of downhill activities. If your family requires something more, the Cobble Mountain Food Court offers many quick serve eating options—both hot and cold. Just want to warm up? Grab a cup of coffee (or a hot chocolate for the kids) and settle in by the fire.
There’s also the Stockade Lodge located just below the Ramrod Quad. This allows easy access to the mountain and maximizes ski time, while also providing options like pizza, chili, or hot dogs and fries to fuel-up midday.
What happens if some of your family love to ski and snowboard, and the others, not so much? Well, Gunstock has plenty of ancillary options. Gunstock’s Thrill Hill Tubing Park boasts the longest tubing run in New Hampshire, stretching out to 1,068 feet. The park has its own handle tow lift, too—this allows you to remain perched on your tube, while being pulled back up the hill. Then down you go again, choosing one of four different chutes.
Fans of fat bikes—bikes with wide, over-sized tires perfect for riding on snow or icy terrain—will appreciate having access to 32 miles of cross country trails for riding, and Gunstock has rentals available if need be.
With easy access from Southern New England, a mountain suited for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, and a longtime tradition of offering great value, Gunstock Mountain Resort is, and will continue to be, a go-to destination for families of all kinds.