For the past five seasons, Mt. Sunapee has been bustling. The owners of Okemo, Vt., who were selected as caretakers of the state-owned day area, have invested $13 million, cutting new trails, adding lifts, building a new lodge and terrain park and increasing snowmaking. New and returning visitors alike have reacted positively to the improvements: "Nice rehab. Okemo owners have turned this facility around," says one reader. "A very pleasant experience," says another. Sunapee, which earns gold medals for Grooming, Value and Access, caters to families. In its segregated novice area, South Peak, new skiers feel safe and unintimidated. Experts will find pockets of challenging terrain, including Sunbowl, a lift-accessed back bowl area. Sunapee's nine lifts serve up diverse terrain: There are long cruisers, open slopes, a halfpipe, a terrain park and even glades (surprisingly uncrowded). "Great skiing, good prices and no crowds," notes one reader. Although there's no lodging at the mountain, its location inside the heavily forested Mt. Sunapee State Park makes for scenic skiing, and from the summit, as one reader notes, you get "a nice view of Lake Sunapee." The surrounding small towns in the Sunapee region have many hotels, from a budget Best Western to historic inns. It's unusual for a mountain with great skiing, good value and accessibility to feel uncrowded; but that's one thing at Mt. Sunapee that hasn't changed. Yet. -Krista Crabtree
2003 Number 15 Resort in the East: Mt. Sunapee, N.H.