Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Bretton Woods, a name full of history, is a true family ski area with one base area, yet plenty of room and terrain to roam
Long known as a destination for beginner and intermediate skiers, Bretton Woods’ gentle pitch and mostly wide-open terrain makes it a perfect place for all to feel like “boy, can I ski!” And its expansion into West Mountain and Rosebrook Canyon has added a a touch of challenging terrain. Add that to the smorgasbord of gladed terrain—from wide-open gentle tree runs to gnarly stump and tree-ridden precipices—you’ll find this is not your father’s Bretton Woods but still with its mostly hero-skiing terrain and that impressive view of New Hampshire’s Presidential Range.
A relatively new ski area by New Hampshire standards, Bretton Woods was started in 1973. In close proximity to the famed Mount Washington Hotel, and joining it as part of the Mount Washington Resort complex, it has become New Hampshire’s largest ski area in terms of acreage, with four high-speed quads accessing the terrain, and one of its most popular.
Bretton Woods has been ranked Top 5 in the East for its excellence in family programs, plus snow, service and scenery (SKI Magazine, Oct. 2011). The same survey ranked Bretton Woods Top 10 in the East overall.
When the nearby Mount Washington Hotel began welcoming winter guests in late 1999, Bretton Woods became more than a regional ski area. It became a true grand resort—the Mount Washington is the real deal. The colossal turn-of-the-20th-century Spanish Renaissance structure, with its Tiffany glass, one-sixth-mile-long wrap-around verandah, and plasterwork sculpted by Italian craftsmen, is what every other grand hotel wants to be.
George Bush Sr., Joan Crawford and Bjorn Borg all slept here (to name just a few) and, oh yes, there was that monetary conference there in 1944. The ski area and the hotel, plus the Bretton Arms Inn, The Lodge and more than 900 acres surrounding the resort are being run by CNL Income Properties and Celebration Associates, who note that they “have the experience, resources and commitment to position Bretton Woods as the premier historic and year-round resort destination in the world.
“Bretton Woods touts itself as a family ski resort and it really is. With one base area, it’s difficult to get lost, although at times in the deep woods, you might feel lost. The Learning Center quad serves a dedicated slope that’s long enough and gentle enough that beginners can easily link turns without knee-shaking fear. The renovated base lodge is expansive. The Kid’s Alpine Club helps streamline the process for getting children off to day care or lessons and is conveniently located right at the main drop-off area. And the staff—from the parking attendants to the cashiers—are genuinely happy to help. If you’re waiting for the shuttle back to the hotel or other area lodging, it’s great to hang out in front of the fire in the large curbside gazebo.
Skiing isn’t the only activity at Bretton Woods. The Mount Washington Hotel has a list of daily activities, including sleigh rides, dog sledding, tubing, ice skating, indoor and outdoor pools and daily historic tours. The all-new Canopy Tour offers high-flying adventures year-round, and a new 25,000 square foot Spa is the perfect place to relax before or after a day on the slopes. Or hit the hotel during one of its many theme weekends, such as the Food & Wine Festival or Mardi Gras.
Night Skiing at Bretton Woods
When darkness falls at Bretton Woods, the skiing and riding fun continues. The Bethlehem Express high-speed detachable quad accesses the Bigger Ben, Big Ben and Bretton’s Wood trails. Bretton’s Wood also is home to the Midway Terrain Park. The Learning Center Quad is a four-person, user-friendly lift that services the lighted Rosebrook Meadow trail, ideal for the first-time skier or snowboarder.
Between runs, skiers and riders can find most anything they need at the base lodge at Bretton Woods. The Food Court and Nash’s General Store are open during night-skiing hours, as is Slopeside Pub for a hot toddie.