Pro Tips for Navigating the Ski Area New Norm
Thinking of skiing this weekend or later this season? We've compiled some pro tips to help you and your travel pod navigate the new norm at NH's ski areas.
Winter is more fun on snow! There is nothing better than getting outside and in nature on ski, board, snowshoe or tube! To help you get an idea of what you are likely going to encounter at NH's ski areas, we have laid out the NH ski areas guidance for you here and have compiled a list of pro tips to help you make the most of your vacation. Keep in mind that ski areas are unique in their layouts and use a variety of systems for things like tickets, rentals, lessons, etc., so there will be differences in some aspects of your experience at each resort. For our ski areas’ winter operations, visit NH Ski Area Winter Operations Updates. Below are some pro tips to help you navigate the "new norm" at ski areas:
Generally speaking, you should plan to buy your tickets online and in advance. However, not all ski areas have the ability to sell tickets online so you really want to check the ski area website before you go so you can make sure you get tickets for your crew! If you are looking to ski during a weekend or holiday period be sure to look into the ticket options at the ski areas you are looking to visit well before you head up to ski. With many ski areas operating with capacity limits, tickets for holiday weeks and weekends are often selling out fast. Finally, if you can't find a ticket for your favorite NH ski area, why not try somewhere new? Check out SkiNH.com for a list of ski areas.
Restaurants, Food & Beverage
Ski areas across the state have adjusted and expanded their food and dining options in some really creative ways this season. Depending on the ski area, you can find on-mountain dining options that can range from food trucks (some that are accessible on skis), to high-end indoor dining options for those looking to sit down and eat a full meal, to grab-and-go food and snack options where you can get your cocoa and cookie without missing a beat. Like almost everything this year, you need to make sure you look at the ski area website in advance to make yourself familiar with the food options and what you'll need to do to make purchases. Some ski areas have special food & dining apps that you'll need to download and use to make orders at all of their dining options, including snack shacks. Some ski areas do not have the technology for pre-ordered food so you'll likely encounter similar protocols as seen at coffee shops and restaurants in town.
Your "Personal Base Lodge" or Tailgating
With resorts limiting the number of people and the amount of time spent inside lodges this year, people are finding creative ways to make their "personal base lodge" - aka their car - a comfortable and chill alternative. That said, every ski area has different rules for their parking lot, often specific to tailgating, so make sure you check in advance before you pull into the lot with a pop-up trailer as you will likely be turned away. There are some really fun and cool ways to up your "personal base lodge" situation, as displayed in the photo above to the right. Camp chairs, a hot thermos of your favorite drink, good music, and a small rug on the ground seem to make for a comfortable, yet simple, space to put on one's boots. Again, before you get too creative, make sure to visit the ski area website to see if there are any parking lot policies that you should know before you go.
Chairlifts & Lift Lines
The lift line is one of the more high-volume places one is likely to encounter at a ski area. Our ski areas have created protocols to help keep people socially distant like "ghost lanes" or empty lift lanes to one's left and right to keep people spaced apart, but you should also be sure to keep 6 feet of distance between you and others as best you can. Ski areas have also made these areas mask/face covering mandatory. It is important for yourself and others to have face coverings on properly and above one's nose while in the lift line, loading and riding the lift, and while getting off the lift. You will likely see a lot of signs speaking to these rules and staff reminding people who forget to pull up their covering. For the chairlift itself, you can choose to only ride with folks you arrived with, or share a ride with others not in your party so long as there is at least one empty seat/space between you.
You can still snag that cool hat or t-shirt from your favorite NH ski area this year. But first, make sure to check the ski area website before you go to make sure you know the shop's open hours and to learn if there are any other details, such as credit cards only, etc., that you should know ahead of time.
Yes, ski areas are offering lessons this season! No matter your skillset, if you are a first-timer or if you are looking to enhance your skills on the mountain, this year is a great year to learn. Like most things, how one books a lesson and what type of lessons are available might be different from years past. Many ski areas are offering more (or only) private and semi-private lessons in order to lessen interactions with people not from your household or travel pod. Make sure you go online in advance and learn what you need to do to book a lesson. Many ski areas require you to book lessons online, in advance while others might require a phone reservation; others may have lesson times available for walk-up service.
If you are looking to make turns but you don't own equipment, ski areas will likely have you covered. Make sure you go online in advance to learn about the rental experience before you arrive at the ski area as some ski areas require advanced online reservations while others may not. Think beyond skis! Some ski areas rent various different equipment like sno-bikes, demo gear, or snowshoes for off-piste trails.
Off Slope Activities
Many ski areas in New Hampshire offer more than just skiing! We're talking snowshoeing, mountain coasters, snowtubing, ice skating, snowcoaches, fatbiking and more. So when you are doing your pre-trip planning make sure to check the ski area websites for the availability of these other activities to round out your trip. Booking tours, lessons and rental equipment is done online in advance or by phone at most ski areas so make sure you do your homework and inquire about reservations for these activities. You will also see covid-19 protocols in place like social distancing, contactless payments or equipment pick-up/drop-off and face-covering requirements among other resort-specific protocols. At the end of the day it's all about getting outside and having some fun, but this year, everyone needs to do a little extra pre-trip planning to ensure a successful experience. So visit your favorite ski area website and/or SkiNH.com in advance of your trip, make some reservations and, once you get there, take a photo of your "personal base lodge" for us (tag us @SkiNewHampshire on Insta and FB)!