The sun glares off the soft white powder as you glide off the lift atop White Cap. At 2,340 feet, the White Mountains provide a gorgeously rugged, panoramic view and the promise of a day filled with brilliant sunshine, challenging runs, and cleansing mountain air. Welcome to Sunday River Resort, a fabulous getaway where you can experience a wide range of outdoor activities.
Sunday River Resort in Newry is just a 3-hour drive from Bangor on the western edge of Maine in the White Mountains. You can fly your personal plane into Bethel Regional Airport, a small, self-service airport with no landing or overnight parking fees. Alternatively, the resort is just over a 4-hour drive north from Boston, Massachusetts, or a 3-hour drive west from Bangor, Maine, both offering good flight options.
When you think of Maine in the winter, skiing comes to mind; however, the Sunday River area offers lots of outdoor winter fun. Some of the area’s outdoor adventures include snowshoeing, horseback riding, dog sledding, and, of course, apres-ski fun.
1. Racing Downhill
A whopping eight peaks provide 870 skiable acres for your recreational enjoyment. Sunday River’s 135 trails and glades combine to show off 53 miles of trails. All of this goodness is reached by 18 lifts, including the high-speed chondola, a combo lift offering an enclosed gondola and an open, six-seat chair option.
Are you an off-piste skier? Then you will enjoy the 300 acres of glade skiing available. The search to discover your own hidden stash drives advanced skiers up the slope again and again.
Looking for a thrilling challenge, head over to White Cap Mountain and give White Heat a try. This double-black diamond is what downhill dreams are made of, the nearly 70 percent pitch with well-placed moguls to test your prowess. The double-black diamond run Shockwave will also give you a challenging adventure.
For backcountry serenity, scenery, and skiing prowess, grab a lift to Oz Mountain and experience the double black diamonds and glades for a session of glorious views and downhill thrills.
The best view of the resort is at Jordan Bowl. Wide-open with views of Mount Washington in the background and miles of groomed trails at your ski tips. You will find a trail to suit your skill on the way down so that everyone can enjoy the experience.
The resort has five terrain parks. For beginners, Who-Ville and Wonderland are child- and family-friendly parks with small jumps, mini pipes, and beginner boxes. Transitioning into 3D and Flow State with more challenging jibs and jumps. For a truly gnarly challenge, head over to T72, the largest of the terrain parks with an undulating terrain that incorporates fun and challenging obstacles.
Pro Tip: Make sure you download the Sunday River App to keep track of all your mountain information. One of the best features is the real-time lift line status. Invaluable for keeping you out of the lines and on the slopes.
2. Cross Country Skiing And Snowshoeing
Nordic, or cross country skiing, is a winter outdoor activity enjoyed by adventurers of all ability levels. You will find yourself gliding gently along the Androscoggin River trails when you begin your journey at Carter’s Cross Country Ski Center. Alternatively, when you begin your cross country adventure at Inland Woods and Trails, they will take you through the Bethel Village for a beautifully quaint New England ski experience.
If you are new to outdoor winter activities, snowshoeing is a great way to get into the swing of enjoying the season. Snowshoeing requires very little gear, just snowshoes and poles; you can even wear your own comfy winter boots. Traverse one of the groomed snowshoe trails or venture out on an exploration adventure.
Pro Tip: Both outfits above offer nordic ski, snowshoe, and fat bike rentals along with any required trail passes.
3. Mushing A Dog Sled
Feel the trail glide beneath your sled as you mush your own dog team through the snowy woodlands of Maine. The muscular power of the team draws you deeper into the quiet of the pristine, snow-covered trails. The rush of cold air blows past as you are immersed in the passing forest, where the silence is broken only by the bark of your team.
Mahoosuc Guide Service offers day and weekend-long dog sledding trips for a winter wonderland bucket list experience. Travel by dog sled and nordic skiing across the Umbagog Lake region or the Mahoosuc Mountain area.
Overnight outings will have you bunking for the night in heated canvas tents. Wake to the aroma of coffee on a camp stove and the promise of a day filled with a one-of-a-kind adventure. With all your food, equipment, and accommodations included, this is one of those adventures you will talk about for a very long time.
Pro Tip: The equipment provided includes cozy warm parkers, boots, and other items to keep you toasty warm on your adventure.
4. Guided Winter Hiking And Snowshoeing
The quiet is broken only by the crunching of snowshoes on the crusted-over snow trails as your spikes dig in for traction. The forest is in winter’s resting stage, and the snow-covered peaks sparkle in the glorious sunlight.
Winter hiking is unlike any other kind of hike. You are enveloped in a peaceful quiet while the snap of the cold air fills your lungs. Bethel Adventure Tours offers local, half-day, and full-day guided trail hikes, rentals, and trail passes for their tours. Each tour is expertly guided and perfectly tailored to their guests’ experience and physical abilities, the winter beauty of Maine is ready for your adventure.
Pro Tip: Before you head out on a winter hike, be sure to pack for the changeable mountain weather and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. In other words, plan ahead and be safe.
5. Skiing Under The Stars
Come for the weekend, and experience Twilight Skiing. Offered Fridays, Saturdays, and the Christmas and February school break weeks, night skiing is a unique and wonderful experience. Sunday River has two lifts and two slopes lit up like Christmas. Twinkling lights dance off the crystal white snow while colorfully dressed skiers make their way down South Ridge and North Peak.
Pro Tip: Top the evening off with a steaming mug of hot cocoa with or without some added fuel.
6. Apres Ski
There are some good on-the-slope apres options along with some quaint village offerings to help you celebrate your day on the slopes.
The first and required stop is the Foggy Goggle, where all the cool kids go. Located at the South Ridge Lodge, you will be well nourished with a plate of shared nachos and a local craft beer.
Another great option is the Matterhorn Ski Bar, a fabulous local bar with live music on the weekends and great pizza. You will be comfortable in your ski togs, so venture over right from the slopes.
Try out The Millbrook Tavern and Terrace at The Bethel Inn Resort for Happy Hour from 3 to 5 p.m. for a tasty bite and warming beverage. With a traditional vibe, you can enjoy your beverage of choice while you regale your friends with crazy downhill stories.
Secure your spot along South Ridge for a 7 p.m. fireworks show. While you relax in your chosen Adirondack chair by a toasty fire pit, watch the light show dance across the night sky.
Pro Tip: Fireworks are offered Saturdays and some holidays. Check the calendar to verify if conditions are right for the fireworks display.
7. Get Your Gaming On
When you need a break from all the cold weather outdoor fun, The Oxford Casino is ready to provide you with a selection of gaming fun. Whether you love the slots, video poker, or want to play the Texas Hold’em table, you can find a warm and cozy spot on the gambling floor.
8. Where’s Eddy The Yeti
The Yeti legend is alive and well at Sunday River. Guests may spot him wandering the slopes or peeking out from the forest. For the best glimpse of Eddy and his lovely partner Betty, you will find them on the slopes at South Ridge on a regular schedule. Check the Eddy The Yeti Calendar for specific times.
Pro Tip: If you have munchkins in tow, spying Eddy and Betty will make for a cute story you will tell over and over again.
9. Get Out And Ride
For a different view of the White Mountains, try exploring on horseback. Take a relaxing trail ride through the mountain foothills. Deepwood Farm offers year-round, 1-hour trail rides. Your guided ride will give you the opportunity to explore the beautiful winter scenery while enjoying the area astride a beautiful horse. It is a unique wrangler outing and a must-do for riding enthusiasts.
10. Ski-In/Ski-Out Accommodations
Staying on the mountain is the best way to enjoy your skiing getaway. Both on resort hotels offer dining options, spa services, and access to all the on-slope fun.
The Jordan Hotel is located on the Lollapalooza trail, one of the resort’s prettiest runs. The Jordan offers guests complete access to the ski resort with the luxury of stopping back at your accommodations for a quick bite or a mid-day siesta.
Another great onsite option is the Grand Summit Hotel. With access to the White Cap area, the hotel offers two-bedroom suites with kitchens. This is the perfect place for a group or family getaway stay.
Sunday River in Newry is a year-round destination for outdoor fun and adventure. New England skiing and the beautiful White Mountains provide an exciting winter wonderland experience.