A Village for Skiing

A weekend getaway to Waterville Valley New Hampshire


A weekend getaway to New Hampshire could include any number of beautiful towns that have up around the state’s travel and tourism industry, particularly the towns near the many ski mountains, but Waterville Valley stands out as a premier getaway destination since it was designed and planned specifically as a self-contained four-season resort town.

When my wife and I visited Waterville Valley, we saw much of the pristine beauty that attracted the first settlers in the early 1800’s, carefully maintained as it was transformed in the 1960’s into a private master-planned resort.  The easy 11-mile drive into the valley from Campton Village on I-93 took us the Mad River and deeper and deep into the White Mountains National Forest.

In the warmer weather, outdoorsmen who make the town their home base explore the White Mountains on peaceful treks, fish the Mad River, golf the town’s 2400-yard 9-hole course, and take the time to absorb the solitude of a town completely surrounded by mountains.  But the town is in its glory when the snow lies thick on the ground.

And that snow means skiing.  With 250 skiable acres on Mount Tecumseh, peaking at 4004 feet and a vertical drop of 2020 feet, Waterville Valley’s award-winning ski area offers 52 Alpine trails and 12 lifts with snowmaking ability on every trail.  Skiers seeking less altitude can access the Nordic Center, with 50 miles of well-groomed cross-country trails leaving from the Town Square or the doorsteps of the Valley’s resorts.

A weekend wasn’t long enough to experience all of the winter activities.

Twilight dog sled rides let guests join the musher and her friendly team of traditional sled dogs for a unique and enchanting tour by moonlight or headlight. The Mountain Taster excursion starts from the base of Tripoli Road and head out to Osceola Campground for a memorable 40-minute experience of moonlight vistas and fun downhill run back to the staging area. These rides by Valley Snow Dogz run on Friday and Saturday evenings through the winter.

Ice skating on the town center’s pond may be a winter activity, but the winter can last all year long with the town’s indoor skating rink.  In the opposite direction, summer can last all year with the White Mountain Athletic Club’s indoor pool, Jacuzzis, and steam rooms.

When you add the town’s snow tubing, snowmobiling, snowshoing, make-your-own fun with snowman making and snowball fighting, and weekend horse-drawn sleigh rides, then Waterville Valley Resort’s winter attractions will draw any snow-lover into New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

On our visit, we had a bit quieter adventure which included visiting the Town Square, next to the skating pond.  Gift shops, sportswear, outdoors gear, and even a little casual food made an afternoon of tax-free shopping an adventure of its own.

Of course, an adventure of any scale needs a home base, and the Waterville Valley Resort offers a broad selection of accommodations. In the warmer weather, the more rugged might prefer the Osceola campground, or even wilderness camping in the national forest, but for most of us, the winter means a comfortable hotel room.

We stayed at the Valley Inn, located in the middle of the village, a short stroll from the athletic center and the Town Square.  This modern family-owned hotel features hotel rooms and suites, many with kitchenettes. Our room’s sleeping area was separated from the living area by glass sliding doors and looked out toward the mountain.  The living area included a kitchenette, breakfast table, and for extra guests, a sleeper sofa. In the lobby, Steve Cahill and his friendly staff kept the atmosphere welcoming and cheery, with hot popcorn and smiling faces.

The common areas of the Valley Inn includes fireplaces and cozy couches.  There is also a guest laundry, seasonal outdoor pool, and meeting spaces.  Steve Cahill is working to open an on-site bar and restaurant, and is now serving a Sunday brunch buffet catered by the Coyote Grill

We had the opportunity to enjoy a memorable dinner at the Coyote Grill during our visit.  The Grill is located on the second floor of the village’s Athletic Center. The Grill’s country décor features wooden beams from a 200-year-old barn. Chef and owner Sean Stout and his wife Barbara have created a comfortable, casual, pub atmosphere, with live music on Fridays.

But the food is the reason to visit – Scott brought his talent with seafood from Rhode Island and Cape Cod to the west side of the White Mountains. The Point Judith calamari is prepared Rhode Island style – tender and spicy, and the Prince Edward Island mussels were sautéed in a white wine garlic sauce.  Appetizers also include a salad made with a julienne pink lady apple, baby greens, shaved red onion, candied pecans, and cave aged bleu cheese in a roasted shallot vinaigrette and a Thai spring roll made with marinated grilled chicken and julienne vegetables.

We enjoyed sesame and ginger crusted yellowfin tuna and a tender New York strip steak, then dessert – even after such a hearty meal, I couldn’t resist the cheesecake, but my wife wisely selected the chocolate mousse.

Sadly, the weekend had to end, but we left refreshed, rested, renewed, well fed, and looking forward to returning in the summer.

For more information:

The Valley Inn  – (603) 236-8425 or (800) 343-0969 – www.valleyinn.com

Coyote Grill – (603) 236-4919 – www.wildcoyotegrill.com

Valley Snow Dogz – (603) 536-3864 – www.valleysnowdogz.com

Waterville Valley Resort – (800)-GO-VALLEY – www.waterville.com

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