Budget Ski Trips 2009
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CANNON MOUNTAIN, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Annual snowfall: 160 inches
Vertical drop: 2,180 feet
Skiable acres: 178
One-day lift ticket: $64
Perfect for: Purists. Cannon is a skier's mountain with a temperament as rugged as its terrain.
Why here: At this unapologetically old-school, state-owned mountain (don't call it a resort), it's always snowing, sleeting, or raining. There are few lodging, après-ski, or dining options. And once you step off the tram, you're on your own to find a way down what is arguably the most challenging terrain in the East. (Don't miss Upper Cannon, a New England classic.) But therein lies Cannon's appeal: This soulful place is about skiing, not hobnobbing. The mountain does make a few concessions to those intimidated by or unprepared for its tough rep, including a separate family area that's tracked with groomed beginner trails. Lift tickets are two-for-one every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the season.
The highlight: A ride in Cannon's tram. The original was built in 1938—the first in North America—at the head of Franconia Notch State Park.
Sleep for cheap: There is no ski-in/ski-out lodging at Cannon, which is just fine by its fans. (Skiing is supposed to be an outdoor sport—with views of trees, not mansions.) But a few minutes down the road, you'll find a range of accommodations, from cozy cabins to chain hotels. For a quintessential—and affordable—New England experience, book a room at the Franconia Inn (pictured), an enchanting historic hotel complete with horse-drawn sleigh rides, cross-country skiing, gourmet dining, outdoor hot tubs, and an après-ski pub. From there, it's a five-minute drive to the slopes.
Rates start at $115 per couple, per night, and the inn offers discount lift tickets: $48 for weekends; $37 midweek; 603-823-5542