Cranmore Mountain Review

So, I must admit there is probably no day on the slopes quite like Valentine’s Day. Some resorts host a crazy event like ‘Running of the Bridesmaids’ (Okemo), while others try to play speed dating matchmaker on chairlifts (Black Mountain, NH). Regardless of where you are – love and deals are in the air.

After much consideration, I chose to head to Cranmore in North Conway, New Hampshire for the day since $14 lift tickets were just way too good to be turned down. I also thought that since they didn’t have any official Valentine’s Day themed events going on I might be safe from crazy singles. Ah, wishful thinking. So many amusing chairlift rides…

Anyways – the review!

Location: Cranmore is two and a half hours away from Manchester, New Hampshire –  but I have to say it’s actually one of my favorite long rides. You’ll be headed up 93 North to Exit 23 (same exit as Ragged Mountain) and then headed along the Northwest side of Lake Winnipesaukee, which will be visible in Meredith and Center Harbor. It’s a nice drive all the way. And cell phone reception seems to be great the entire way too, along with gas stations, hotels, restaurants, etc.

Parking: I’ll admit I might have just parked in the wrong parking lot, but parking at Cranmore definitely struck me as a little confusing. Even though it wasn’t busy, I think I still managed to park in the lot furthest away from what ended up being the lodge. Fortunately it was an easy, level walk that didn’t require me crossing roads or going against traffic, so no big deal!

Ticket Counter/Guest Services: All of the staff seemed very nice, especially the folks in the café. No complaints at all there with any of their staff!

Price: Cranmore’s ticket prices are comparable with other mountains of the same size (54 trails), but be sure to keep in mind some of their deals!

Lodge: I don’t think I’ll ever quite comprehend how different every ski area’s base is, but they’re all very unique. I’ve never seen two places that were even sort of alike! Cranmore won’t be breaking this rule at all and has quite a few buildings at their base including the lodge, restaurants, ticket building, and more I think. I should have explored more!

The lodge was nice and bright though and even with about a million kids there for a ski race, I still found room to sit and eat lunch. Cranmore also went out of their way to provide a lot of cubby space, so there’s no excuse!

Lifts: I rode 2 of Cranmore’s lifts the day I was there: the Skimobile Express and the East Bowl Double. The Skimobile Express was your standard high speed quad in great condition (and with great views). Now, the East Bowl Double was something else. It was a blast from the past. The folks in front of me were yelling to each other (they were on different chairs) about how they were time traveling going up these bright red chairs, and it wasn’t far off.

I looked it up just out of curiosity and sure enough, this lift is the oldest still operating double chair in New England built in 1955 (according to Chairlift.org – all the good stuff). I’d seriously recommend riding it at least once while you’re at Cranmore as it is great condition for it’s age and it’s kind of interesting to see a part of history.

Trails: While Cranmore isn’t the tallest mountain, I learnt pretty quickly that it did have a lot of variety. I was there on what certainly felt like a busy day, but I kept finding myself in the woods alone on some pretty fun trails. If you’re a beginner, I’d recommend sticking to the East side of the mountain where the trails are more open and forgiving. But if you’re looking for some fun, head over the West side. I had lots of fun on the intermediates headed off the summit like Kandahar and Arlberg, then met up with Bandit and cut back on to Lower Arlberg. Just keep your speed up though at the bottom of the trails as the section heading back to the lifts is pretty flat.

After working up quite an appetite and enduring many awkward chairlift conversations (guys – never start a conversation with ‘So, are you here alone?’), it was time to review some chicken tenders.

For $8.29, starving snowboarders were treated to 3 medium sized tenders and a large helping of curly fries. Now, I swear the following isn’t just because I was seriously hungry beyond belief. The chicken tenders were the best I had ever had at a ski area and were complemented by the best fries ever. Woah. The chicken was tender with no gristle, and covered with a slightly sweet crunchy perfect coating. The fries were crisp, seasoned, and I swear the curly aspect just makes them better.

So, I am proud to award my first ever ‘5 Tender Award’! Congratulations, Cranmore!

Final Score: 5 out of 5 Tenders

5 thoughts on “Cranmore Mountain Review

    1. Thank you! I definitely have to check out your place at some point soon. I keep hearing such good things about the lodging and hospitality, so I’ll be sure to put it on the list of places to stay next time I’m in the area overnight!

  1. And now a little history….

    Your Grandfather, Neil Petrocelli, spent many winter seasons skiing @ Cranmore (before he and your Grandmother married) and rode in those very red cars. Your Grandfather tried to teach me to ski there when I was young, (you don’t get any of your winter sports ability from me). I also recall riding in the red cars. So I guess this makes you the 3rd generation. And you know what a food critic your late Grandfather was, so I’m not surprised the food was outstanding.

  2. Hello,

    My friends and I are looking to stay at the Conway area come December. We are all more or less snowboarders and it looks like the majority of the people in the area ski. Would you say that Cranmore mountain and Attitash mountain are also suitable for snowboarders? I’m assuming it is but I’m a beginner to all this so I just wanted to know if there was a difference and if you would recommend this area for us.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Sid! Most of the mountains in the area work great for both skiers and snowboarders, Cranmore and Attitash included. It really all comes down to what type of trails you’re looking for, size, ability level, where you’re staying, and when you’ll be visiting. Some years we get snow in early December and other years it just doesn’t want to cooperate. No idea what this year will bring yet.

      So best ski areas to check out in the area:

      Cranmore is wonderful is you can visit a little later in the season once they’ve built their base up as most of the trails really rely on a good 1-2′ of snow at least. It’s really more of a late January/February mountain, but definitely worth the visit.

      Attitash on the other hand is usually one of the first mountains up there open and they’ll be making snow the moment the weather is cool enough. To also add to the sweetness, a full day pass at Attitash is also good at their sister ski area Wildcat which is among my absolutely favorites.

      Another mountain to check out that’s fairly close by is Bretton Woods. It’s the biggest ski area in NH at over 100 trails, and they’re usually the first to open in NH I think. Definitely check them out as well!

      My personal favorite, but one that really depends on some decent snow for a sweet ride is Cannon in Franconia Notch. It’s a little out of the way from the Conway, NH area, but if you have a chance to head over there, do it. It’s well worth it.

      Hope this helps! Let me know if you need any more pointers!

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About Jillian Bejtlich

Hey! I'm Jillian Bejtlich. I’m a lifelong New Englander with a serious love of the outdoors, adventure, and a pretty serious inability to sit still. I’m plagued by the travel bug, and it seems I’ll try any relatively sane and safe thing once. My big goal in life: Get people outside!