If only all young brothers could be like Poncho and Gonzo on family trips to the snow. They never fight or bicker, and couldn’t be kinder to each other on the road.
Of course, it helps that this duo are sled dogs, rescue pups in fact, that are part of a team from www.dogslednh.com that led us on a spirited ride in the snow at the historic Omni Mount Washington Resort at the base of New England’s tallest peak. Gonzo has been totally blind since he was a pup, and Poncho helps him on the sled team and off, their handlers say.
Dog sledding is just one of the ways to have fun in the snow here in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley (www.mtwashingtonvalley.org) that includes 27 towns surrounding Mount Washington, the pinnacle of the 6,288-foot White Mountains, widely considered one of the country’s most affordable ski destinations. Bretton Woods, part of the Mount Washington Resort, is New Hampshire’s largest snow sports area. Nearby is the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center (www.outdoors.org/lodging/whitemountains/highland/), which families liken to “a college dorm for families” with communal meals, bathrooms and activities indoors and out.
No worries if you don’t ski or snowboard. There are plenty of options for fun in the snow, here and around the country – alpine coasters (try Jiminy Peak in Vermont or Park City Mountain Resort in Utah), ice castles (Keystone Resort in Colorado) and even an Ice Age Discovery Center (www.snowmassiceage.com) in Snowmass, Colo., near the site of one of the world’s largest Mastodon fossil finds.
Here in New Hampshire, the big, white 200-room Omni Mt. Washington Resort has been a fixture since 1902 when wealthy families would come for the entire summer. (The resort has only been open in the winter since 2000.) I can’t think of a better place for a scavenger hunt than in the cavernous lobby, where you can cozy up in front of a roaring fire, sip hot chocolate, play checkers or read a story. We saw families doing all that and more when we visited recently.
There is also a 50-room lodge and 70 townhomes, some with five bedrooms, as well as the recently renovated 34-room Bretton Arms Inn, built in 1896 and used as a home at one point by Joseph Stickney, who built the Mount Washington Hotel.
Amuse the kids – and yourselves with everything from 21st century mini-snowmobiles to rides in an old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh, tubing and indoor and outdoor (heated) pools. Weather permitting, there are back-country custom adventures (like ice climbing or back-country skiing).
If the kids are 12, how about a three-hour canopy tour in the snow that includes not only nine zip lines (the longest is more than 800 feet and 145 feet above the ground!) but also three rappels and two sky bridges.
There’s also the chance to introduce the kids to snowshoeing or cross-country skiing – there are 100 kilometers of trails, half of which are in the White Mountain National Forest. The trails connect with the Bretton Woods alpine area to the west and the Appalachian Mountain Club to the east.
We joined a morning guided hike in the snow to a waterfall – micro crampons on our feet on the Crawford Trail, the oldest continuously used trail in the country.
You can borrow whatever gear you need – crampons, snowshoes, an extra layer, snow pants or boots for the kids and even carriers for toddlers – thanks to a partnership with L.L. Bean and the Appalachian Mountain Club. That’s no small thing when you don’t own any winter gear, said Diane Kane, visiting with her husband and two sons from Florida who were especially enthusiastic about the night snowball fights.
“We never get to see snow at home,” said 9-year-old Ryland Cane. “I really like the snow!”
For more from Eileen Ogintz, visit www.takingthekids.com.
No worries if you don’t ski or snowboard. There are plenty of opportunities for fun in the snow.