Firmly placed in American ski history, Cannon focuses on the skiing product first instead of resort-style off mountain major development.
Nestled in the northern corner of New Hampshire’s renowned Franconia Notch State Park lays Cannon Mountain. Offering stunning views of the White Mountains, the longest vertical drop in the state, and easy access from an interstate highway, Cannon has been attracting families and expert skiers to its slopes since the 1930s. While Cannon may sometimes play victim to the harsher side of New England winters, a recent expansion has bolstered the strong community that takes deep pride in their mountain’s challenging slopes, supported by management intent on offering a skiing-first experience to mountain guests.
Though Cannon Mountain calls itself a ski area, not a resort, visitors have flocked to northern New Hampshire since trails were cut in the early 1930s. In its early history, Cannon accumulated multiple firsts in the ski resort industry: the first ski-racing trail in North America, the Taft Slalom, was cut on Cannon Mountain in 1933, and North American’s first aerial tramway was completed in 1938. Though the tram was replaced in 1980 by an updated, 70-passenger version, the original catapulted the area into international recognition, and helped to bring the Alpine Skiing World Cup races to North America for the first time in 1967. Today, the mountain is known for having the longest vertical drop in New Hampshire, and for US Olympic Ski Racer Bode Miller who grew up on its slopes. Its tram is still the only one in the state, too.
Cannon itself is owned by the state of New Hampshire, as it lies within Franconia Notch State Park. With a commitment to the ski experience first, the base area does not feature a multitude of amenities and lodging options, but rather a no-frills experience with the bare necessities. You may rent or buy gear, tune your equipment, and grab a bite to eat at the base, but don’t come expecting more for your day on the mountain. The focus on skiing is seen in quality groomers, abundant snowmaking, and emphasis on the mountain’s character that locals also love to promote. The mountain is frequently at the center of a number of rumors about its experience, normally focusing on the cold northern facing aspects and challenging terrain, though it truly offers a great experience for all.
Cannon Mountain Pros and Cons:
+ The longest vertical drop in New Hampshire keeps the legs burning from bell to bell.
+ Situated in a very scenic and extremely accessible location, only a handful of yards from an interstate highway.
+ Skiing-first mentality puts on-mountain experiences first, including reasonable lift ticket pricing.
- Generally north-facing slopes can suffer from harsh White Mountain winters, including bitter winds and icy conditions
- Lack of on-mountain lodging and amenities prevents Cannon from becoming a true resort destination.
Updated for Winter 2016-2017 – Roger Tufts