Vermont & New Hampshire’s Upper Valley - An Indy Pass Playground

When I moved back to Vermont, I ended up living in the Upper Valley. What and where is the Upper Valley, you ask? As described on uppervalleyarts.com, “The Upper Valley straddles the Connecticut River between New Hampshire and Vermont with the tri-city core of Hanover and Lebanon in New Hampshire and White River Junction in Vermont.”

Now, the total area of the Upper Valley can vary depending on who one is talking to. Some would say that it extends for at least an hour in any direction from the towns mentioned above. Others would say that it’s much closer. It’s not really an area that’s marked out on a map. That’s okay, though, because I don’t need to even go an hour to get this article started. Though, I will be going outside of that. Why? Let’s continue and see.

Two Days At All Participating Partners - That’s The Indy Pass Way

At first glance, one would think I was wrong about this area being an Indy Pass playground. For those that aren’t familiar with the partner mountains here in the northeast, Suicide Six is the only full partnered mountain in the Upper Valley.

Being located in South Pomfret, VT, Suicide Six is on the western end of the Upper Valley. For those looking to take a drive into Vermont’s countryside, heading out to Suicide Six could be right up your alley. Also, don’t let the name fool you. There is plenty of terrain for folks of all experience levels. You’ll be just fine, believe me.

Also, believe me when I say that a trip to Suicide Six is worth it, in my opinion. It’s a small mountain, but a lot of fun. In fact, I’ve made it to opening day two seasons in a row and I’ll be looking to get the hat trick this coming season.

But, as was said three paragraphs ago, this is only one mountain. That kind of falls short of a playground. However, not too long ago, Indy Pass made an announcement to change all of that.

Enter The Indy Allied Resorts

This was quite the announcement that came out around the time the spring season was coming to an end. These hills wouldn’t be full partners, but Indy Pass holders get discounts up to 50% on daily lift tickets. That is what turned the Upper Valley into an Indy Pass playground.

The Indy Pass Allied Resorts debuted with two right here in the Upper Valley. Whaleback Mountain and Dartmouth Skiway, are located in Enfield and Lyme, New Hampshire, respectively. These two mountain resorts have the same small, independent, old-school vibe that some have come to enjoy with Indy Pass partners, though they aren’t full partners.

Now, that means one doesn’t get their two free days as they would with full partner resorts, but 50% off on weekday tickets is true “dirt cheap” skiing and riding. Fifty percent off a ticket at either one of those mountains brings the price down to $15 or $20. That’s a price that is hard to beat and only a few places can do it. Anyway, these places are worth the price of a full ticket, so having a discount like this is something that any Indy Pass holder should not miss.

I know this for a fact, too. I have skied both places and loved every minute of the mountains. In fact, not only am I an Indy Pass holder, but I am a Whaleback Mountain season pass holder, as well. That season pass has to be one of the best deals in the business. I paid $200 for mine during the wicked early sale, but the pass is now $225 until Halloween. If you are in a position to purchase a Whaleback pass, I would totally recommend it. Oh, and that’s not just because I’m partnered up with Whaleback and they happen to be my home mountain. I really, really love that place.

That brings us up to three mountains that are right here in the Upper Valley that one can ski or ride while taking advantage of the Indy Pass' cheapness. Though, those three mountains have something else in common. They are all alpine skiing & riding mountains. For those that like to get out into the XC world, I have a little something for you, as well.

Riding XC Through The Upper Valley

Let’s toss it back to Suicide Six for a moment. As I wrote earlier, that mountain is in South Pomfret, Vermont. Now, that is just north of the town of Woodstock, which is also included in the Upper Valley region. In fact, one of the ways to get to Suicide Six is going through Woodstock.

In Woodstock, there is the Woodstock Nordic Center. There is 45km of trails to explore around Mt. Peg and Mt. Tom, which was once home to an alpine ski area. It’s a cool place to explore during the summer and fall when those trails don’t have snow on them. I can only imagine that they’re equally as cool, if not more so, covered in snow. Not to mention the workout that XC skiing can be.

I’m pretty sure I am going to be getting my Indy Pass days at the nordic center because it’s not far from my house and why not take advantage of the Indy Pass that I have as often as I can? Also, one of the guests that are confirmed for the Ski Rex Media Podcast this season is Reese Brown, President of the Cross Country Ski Areas Association, which is based in Woodstock, VT. I’m sure he and I will be talking about the Indy Pass XC offerings.

Extending The Playground

I am more than willing to accept that some of you want more. That, for some of you, three alpine hills and an XC area just aren’t enough. It’s for those people that I now look to extend the Upper Valley Indy Pass playground. It really isn’t that hard. In fact, it ties in with one of the reasons that the Upper Valley is such a good place for Ski Rex Media.

I realized when I was starting Ski Rex Media that I was in a wonderful place for a skier or snowboarder. It’s not that Harford, VT is a huge ski town or anything. It’s not West Dover, Ludlow, Killington, Stowe, Richmond, or any other ski town in Vermont that has a hill right in town. As you can see from those mentioned, the town and the ski hill have the same name at times. Hartford, however, does not.

This town, however, is surrounded by other places that do have a ski hill or XC area, which is what the entire beginning of this article is about. That’s the playground that I was going on and on about.

The thing about this town is that is centered so well to access so many hills without having to drive too far. Now, I get that “driving too far” is relative. For some people, a half an hour drive might be too far. Not for me, though, and not for many others. Think about it. Folks from New York City have to fight traffic and drive a minimum of an hour and a half to ski. That includes Big Snow American Dream depending on the time of day and the traffic going through the tunnels and over the bridges.

From where I am sitting right now, I can make it to almost every Indy Pass mountain and area in New England, as well as two of the New York hills, in less than four hours. That’s 17 different alpine and XC areas, all of which I get two days at, as does any Indy Pass holder.

Again, I know there are folks that have to drive that far, or further, every single time they want to get out on a hill. So, extending the playground to those mountains that are four hours or less from here is valid. I think it’s valid, anyway.

So, there you have it. Even if the mountains of the Upper Valley aren’t enough of an Indy Pass playground for you, using the Upper Valley as a jump-off point works out well, too.

Please, if you have the opportunity, visit the mountains and ski areas of the Upper Valley. We’re pretty friendly up here. Also, go ahead and buy your Indy Pass now while it's at one of the best prices for the upcoming season, as well as take a look at a season pass to the mountains mentioned in this article or your local mountains.

I’ll see you out there!

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