New England's most impressive mountain peaks are in New Hampshire, and that makes the state a prime destination for winter adventure seekers. When the snow arrives, the White Mountains become the perfect backdrop for invigorating powder pursuits. Skiers and snowboarders find challenging terrain on the region's slopes, of course, but speeding downhill isn't the only thing to do. Whether you're planning a family vacation, a getaway with friends, or a cozy couple's escape, check off as many of New Hampshire's cold-weather-only activities as you can.
Ski the White Mountains
The rugged White Mountains contain countless downhill ski and snowboard trails catering to all abilities and ages. Ski resorts like Attitash, Waterville Valley, and Cranmore Mountain are complete family destinations, whereas the state's largest, Bretton Woods, features top-level enticements, with 46 percent of its terrain rated "expert/advanced." For a wilder experience, head to the steep and unforgiving slopes of White Mountain National Forest, such as Wildcat Mountain and Cannon Mountain, or to the nearby glacial cirque known as Tuckerman Ravine, the ultimate extreme.
Experienced riders and timid beginners alike are welcome at Northern Extremes Snowmobiling in Bartlett. This rental company provides all the equipment and instruction needed for an exhilarating ride through the sublime White Mountain National Forest. You can simply rent a 'mobile for two to four hours and go exploring on your own or take the guided tour, a 50-mile loop guaranteeing the best snow conditions and least-crowded trails.
Cross Dog Sledding off Your Bucket List
Imagine gliding across a snowy landscape behind a team of Alaskan Huskies, Siberians, and Malamutes. Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel turns rescues into sled dogs. So, you can experience the thrill of dog sledding while also contributing to the care of more than 100 abandoned and neglected pups. Tours range from an hour and a half to three hours and can be customized for couples, families, and groups. They're designed to be "more than just a 'ride'," Muddy Paw says. Guests are encouraged to be as hands-on as they're comfortable with.
Ride a Snow Coach to the Top of Mount Washington
The Mt. Washington Auto Road may be closed to vehicular traffic during the winter months, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the splendid views of the Presidential Range from this century-and-a-half-old mountain pass. Simply board one of Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center's SnowCoaches for a 75-minute ride above the tree line. These sturdy vans are equipped with snow tracks instead of wheels and operate from mid-December through mid-March, weather conditions permitting.
Take a Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride
Farm by the River in North Conway offers nostalgic journeys aboard a horse-drawn sleigh or carriage during winter. An overnight stay at the bed and breakfast and a picturesque carriage ride complete with champagne, chocolates, and faux-fur blankets make for the most romantic experience. The property even offers elopement packages for those ready to tie the knot.
Embark on an Off-Road Winter Safari
Spend 60 to 90 minutes bouncing over rugged, snow-covered terrain aboard a Pinzgauer. What's a Pinzgauer, you ask? It's an Austrian-designed mountain-climbing military vehicle, and Alpine Adventures in Lincoln has a few of them. The tour company takes groups out on White Mountains winter safaris aboard these durable, 11-passenger, six-wheel-drive trucks.
Snow Tube All Day
There are lift-serviced snow tubing parks at Loon Mountain and Cranmore, but at Great Glen Trails you'll save a bundle and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from climbing hills on your own two legs between each run. Grab a tube and sled for three hours for just $20 per person (compared to $18 per hour at Loon Mountain and $35 for two hours at Cranmore) at this old-fashioned family outdoor center in Gorham.
Zip Line in the Wintertime
The three-hour Bretton Woods Canopy Tour at the luxurious Omni Mount Washington Resort is open daily, year-round. It includes nine cable zip lines, ranging in length with a maximum span of 830 feet, and two adventure sky bridges. Winter flights above the crystalline pines are simply breathtaking, and experiencing it with family or a partner promises major bonding. If you're brave enough to keep your eyes open, you'll see the White Mountains from 160 feet up. This season, the Bretton Woods Canopy Tour will remain closed until spring 2021.