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MarzNC

Independent Ski Areas/Resorts in the Northeast

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A question was asked recently about a Top Ten for independent ski areas/resorts in the northeast.  Or even a Top 20 list.  Thought it might helpful to have the info in a separate thread.

A start was provided by @Smellytele.  @SkiingInABlueDream added Sugarbush.

I think Tenney should be on the list.  Will be open for the full season for 2018-19 after the soft opening in March.

Hard to come up with 20...

Just coming up with 10

Cannon

Smuggs

MRG

Bolton

Magic

Waterville

Ragged

Pats

Gunstock

Shawnee Peak

WAWA

After that they are really all pretty small

Whaleback

Dartmouth

Granite Gorge

MacIntyre

If NE is Northeast not New England:

Platty

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@JimK: you asked about Hunter and Mt. Snow.  But those are not independent.  They are part of Peak Resorts.  Peak bought Hunter in 2015 for almost $40 million.  The big improvements are starting to happen there.  Turns out the in addition to the seven resorts in the northeast, Peak started with ski areas in the midwest.  Definitely a player in the ski industry that isn't going away any time soon.

Windham is independent.

Edited by MarzNC

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Cranmore and Bretton Woods should probably be on that list. I know Bretton Woods has large corporate ownership but it's not part of a "ski conglomerate".

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You are missing Sugarbush. In New York there are more, Labrador’s and song, snow ridge, and Wyndham are independent. I am not sure about thunder ridge and I think Mountain Creek is now independent.

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It would seem like you were going to omit smaller areas from your list since you were having a hard time coming up with 20. But you have MacIntyre on your short list so i guess you are including smaller areas? Strange you would not have Pats in the small category but put Dartmouth in the smaller category?

There is a significantly higher quantity of independent New England areas compared to multiple area ownership if you include smaller areas. I'd have to look at a map to come up with the majority of them, especially some of the areas in MA, ME, and CT of which I am less familiar.

Any ways, excluding local/feeder areas, I think folks should give Black NH, Abram, and Black ME a shot if they enjoy mid-sized independent areas, these should definitely be included on your list. Middlebury was already mentioned, also a good addition to the list. Not my favorite, but Berkshire East could qualify in spirit as being "independent" even though they just acquired Catamount. Depends if you define Indie as being single mountain ownership or indie in spirit.

Edited by thesnowway

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3 hours ago, thesnowway said:

Depends if you define Indie as being single mountain ownership or indie in spirit.

Good point.  I'm not quite sure what to think about Jiminy Peak, Cranmore, and Bromley.  They are all operated by the Fairbank Group, although only Cranmore is owned by Fairbank.  It's a father and son company.  Brian Fairbank has been steering Jiminy Peak for a long time, and has been quite successful.  The fact that the three mountains are linked is not usually that obvious.  But an announcement like the one on SIA in late March 2018 that all three were extended their season doesn't happen by luck.  Triple Peaks only had three resorts.  But I don't think Okemo or Sunapee would've been nominated for a list of "independents."

https://www.snowsports.org/bromley-mountain-resort-southern-vermont-jiminy-peak-mountain-resort-western-massachusetts-cranmore-announce-extended-ski-seasons/

It may take a few years, but Berkshire East and Catamount are likely to be stronger as one business entity than two separate companies.  That's what happened with Song and Labrador a few years ago.

So my inclination is to stick with ownership of only one mountain.

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Here's a stab at a list that includes every place mentioned so far, plus a few more from a list of "old school" ski areas I have floating around my computer.  Left Berkshire East and Catamount on the list for now since that sale hasn't happened yet.  Did not include NJ as part of the "northeast."

INDEPENDENT in NORTHEAST

ME: Black Mountain (non-profit), Mount Abram, Shawnee Peak (formerly Pleasant Mountain)

 

NH:

Bretton Woods

Cannon

Others: Black Mountain, Dartmouth Skiway, Granite Gorge, Gunstock, King Pine, MacIntyre, Pat’s Peak, Ragged, Tenney, Waterville Valley, Whaleback

 

VT:

Sugarbush

Smuggler’s Notch

Mad River Glen (coop ownership)

Others: Ascuteny (non-profit), Bolton Valley, Cochran's Ski Area, Middlebury Ski Bowl, Magic Mountain, Queechee, Suicide Six

 

MA:

Wachusett

Berkshire East

Others: Nashoba Valley, Ski Butternut, Catamount, Bousquet

 

CT: Mohawk, Powder Ridge, Ski Sundown

RI: Yawgoo Valley

 

Central NY: Greek Peak, Plattekill, Swain

Catskills NY: Windham

Upstate NY: McCauley, Mt. Royal, Thunder Ridge, Titus Mountain

Edited by MarzNC
Added Sundown

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8 minutes ago, SkiingInABlueDream said:

Add Sundown for CT I think.

Guess I would feel right at home there with just over 1000 ft vertical and about 70 acres.  Quite a different layout than my home mountain in Virginia but pretty much the same vertical and acreage.  Open until 10pm every night.  Interesting.

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1 hour ago, MarzNC said:

Guess I would feel right at home there with just over 1000 ft vertical and about 70 acres.  Quite a different layout than my home mountain in Virginia but pretty much the same vertical and acreage.  Open until 10pm every night.  Interesting.

Little ambition on the vertical. Sundown is 625' of vert. Still great for a CT/southern NE mountain with a strong dedication to moguls. It does appear to be a fair bit different than a lot of the local S. NE hills, but I have not been so can't comment too much.

Edited by Jully

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Plattekill is Catskills. Greek peak and Toggenburge are owned by one company so not independent. I count Labrador’s and Song as independent since they are 10 minuets from each other. Also Show ridge is independent.

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16 minutes ago, Benski said:

Plattekill is Catskills. Greek peak and Toggenburge are owned by one company so not independent. I count Labrador’s and Song as independent since they are 10 minuets from each other. Also Show ridge is independent.

I'll update the list after a few days.  I think for the purposes of this forum, will probably just list Windham and Plattekill for the Catskills and leave out others that are farther west in NY.  Snow Ridge is pretty unique from what I've read.  There is coverage of those independent ski areas on NYSkBlog.

I've stopped by to look at Song, Labrador, and Greek Peak during off-season.  Have skied at Belleayre, Hunter, and Plattekill, but only looked at Windham from the base.  Would be hard pressed to push people to make the drive farther west or south than the Catskills.  There are quite a few independent ski areas in PA that folks in DE/MD/DC drive north to ski fairly often.

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1 hour ago, Jully said:

Little ambition on the vertical. Sundown is 625' of vert. Still great for a CT/southern NE mountain with a strong dedication to moguls. It does appear to be a fair bit different than a lot of the local S. NE hills, but I have not been so can't comment too much.

Oops, I looked at the Ski Sundown webpage too fast and read the Top Elevation of 1075 as the vertical.  Next time I have extra time around Hartford, maybe I'll stop by for a look.

Yawgoo has 165' vertical. ?


670227294_ScreenShot2018-06-10at11_00_31PM.thumb.png.8594b07d1dcc13772b365b48c43c1928.png 

Edited by MarzNC

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I didn't include Sugarbush because it is on a couple of the group passes but now that I think of it some of the others are also on the Freedom pass so...

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I don't think Ragged is an independent ski area. They're owned by the Pacific Group. While not as big as Omni's properties, it's still a large group. And they operate a few other ski areas.

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1 hour ago, Weatherman said:

I don't think Ragged is an independent ski area. They're owned by the Pacific Group. While not as big as Omni's properties, it's still a large group. And they operate a few other ski areas.

Completely forgot that Pacific owns Wisp.

The central question to the list of independents is are you looking for "mom and pop" ski areas when you ski 'independent' or are you looking for ski areas owned by a non-multiresort giant (e.g. Vail, Alterra, Peak).

Places like Ragged and Sugarbush are certainly not mom and pop, but neither are owned by resort giants.

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Yawgoo Valley is 245 (315 top base 70)

Nelsap Pinetop I believe was 350 and a far superior hill but Yawgoo survives due to proximity to URI and easy access off RI Route 2.

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Thanks for the inputs.  I am trying to put pen to paper to describe some of this.  Obviously, the word "independent" is very nebulous.  We are living in interesting times :-)

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4 hours ago, Smellytele said:

I didn't include Sugarbush because it is on a couple of the group passes but now that I think of it some of the others are also on the Freedom pass so...

For me, being part of a multi-resort pass that is a cooperative effort doesn't make a ski area/resort less independent.  Applies to the Freedom Pass as well as the Mountain Collective resorts that aren't owned by Alterra.  Jackson Hole and Alta are independent businesses with no corporate CEO who is also making decisions for another resort, or a Marketing VP/Director trying to come up with a marketing strategy for more than one location.

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How about the following for a revised list of independent ski areas in the northeast?  Not including any places that were operated by a management group responsible for more than one ski area/resort.  Kept Berkshire East and Catamount in the list given that the sale just happened.  I'm only including places in NY State that are about an hour from I-87, so Plattekill and Mt. Royal just make it.  A little arbitrary but it's my list of potential places to go visit some day. ?

 

INDEPENDENT in NORTHEAST

ME: Black Mountain (non-profit), Mount Abram, Shawnee Peak (formerly Pleasant Mountain)

 

NH: 

Bretton Woods

Cannon (owned by NH)

Others: Black Mountain, Dartmouth Skiway, Granite Gorge, Gunstock, King Pine, MacIntyre, Pat’s Peak, Tenney, Waterville Valley, Whaleback

 

VT:

Sugarbush (on MCP for 2018-19)

Smuggler’s Notch

Mad River Glen (coop ownership)

Others: Ascuteny (non-profit), Bolton Valley, Cochran's Ski Area, Middlebury Ski Bowl, Magic Mountain, Queechee, Suicide Six

 

MA:

Wachusett

Berkshire East

Others: Nashoba Valley, Ski Butternut, Catamount, Bousquet

 

CT: Mohawk, Powder Ridge, Ski Sundown

RI: Yawgoo Valley

Eastern NY (<1 hr from I-87): Plattekill, Windham, Mt. Royal, Thunder Ridge, Titus Mountain

Edited by MarzNC

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23 hours ago, Benski said:

 I am not sure about thunder ridge . . .

Do you think Thunder Ridge draws more from from NYC/NJ than from CT?  Powder Ridge is much closer to Hartford.

I know there are skiers in CT but have run into more New Yorkers either online or skiing.  Do have friends in CT who ski at Mohawk because it's nearby.  They drive up to VT for weekend skiing but not that often.

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4 hours ago, JimK said:

Thanks for the inputs.  I am trying to put pen to paper to describe some of this.  Obviously, the word "independent" is very nebulous.  We are living in interesting times ?

Looking forward to the article.  The one you wrote about "anti-resorts" in 2011 was one reason Plattekill got on my bucket list.

Have you seen the documentary made about Plattekill this spring?

 

Edited by MarzNC

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