Sunday River Ski Resort is one of the best ski areas in Maine and also one of the best ski areas in the East. While Maine has many ski areas, this ski area in particular has led the way in bringing the most up-to-date trail system, lifts, and snowmaking to Vacationland skiing.
Sunday River Ski Resort was founded in 1958, but was
a relatively small, sleepy ski station when Les Otten
bought it in 1980. Otten, who went on the found the resort
conglomerate American Skiing Company (one-time owner of Heavenly CA, Killington VT,
the Canyons UT, and Steamboat
CO, among other ski areas), invested heavily in this
Maine Ski Area. From just one double lift and a couple
surface lifts, the lift network at Sunday River Ski Resort
was transformed. Today, Sunday River Ski Area has 18 lifts,
including 5 high-speed quads. By the time he sold Sunday
River Maine in 2007, Otten had added nearly 100 trails
to bring the total to over 130, covering 670 skiable acres
with a vertical drop of 2,240 feet.
With trails spread across eight interconnected peaks, Sunday River Ski Area offers a wide array of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Experts should look to (from east to west) Whitecap, Barker Mountain, Aurora Peak, OZ, and Jordan Bowl. OZ in particular is almost solely made up of steep runs and tree-lined drops. Whitecap features the famous White Heat double-black run and the equally challenging Shockwave, as well as some nice glades in Hardball and Chutzpah. The top of Barker Mountain has three steep and long slopes — Agony, Right Stuff, and Top Gun — and the extreme Last Tango glade, perhaps the most challenging trees at any Maine ski area. Aurora Peak has both intermediate and expert terrain; Celestial Run is a well-recommended advanced wooded trail.
Intermediates and especially advanced intermediates will find much to satisfy them at Sunday River Ski Area, with blue-rated runs on every peak except OZ. It is enjoyable to spend a day skiing across the eight mountains, enjoying long cruising blues like Obsession on Whitecap, Cascades on Locke Mountain, Ecstasy on Barker Mountain, Risky Business on Spruce Peak, and Northern Lights on Aurora Peak. North Peak has a large concentration of good blue runs; the lodge on the top of the peak is a nice place for a midday rest.
Sunday River Ski Resort has a good introductory area above the main South Ridge Lodge, with 12 bunny slopes serviced by 4 lifts. Once you have mastered basic technique, green runs beckon on almost every peak. Three Mile Trail is a nice long green winding around Barker Mountain, Lollapalooza is a good cruising green along the edge of Jordan Bowl at the extreme end of Sunday River Ski Area.
Snowboarders will find terrain parks on Whitecap, Locke Mountain, Barker Mountain, and near the South Ridge Lodge. The huge superpipe is in the terrain park on Barker Mountain. The Park on Whitecap is suited to intermediates. Whoville on South Ridge is perfect for novice boarders.
Sunday River Maine is focused on one thing: skiing. The nearby ski town of Bethel can be quite quiet on weekdays, although nightlife is a little better on weekends. At Sunday River Ski Resort itself accommodation is spread across four bases: Jordan Bowl, Whitecap, Barker Mountain, and South Ridge. Jordan Grand Hotel, slopeside at Jordan Bowl, lives up to its illustrious name but is miles from anything but the slopes.
Located just 3 hours from Boston and 1.5 hours from Portland ME, the Maine ski area is perfectly situated for a day
or weekend trip from anywhere in New England. Sunday River
Maine is well worth the visit.