Sunday River, Maine: Rank 5 East, 1998

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You've got to hand it to the American Skiing Company: It has transformed a long ridge with only about 1,800 feet of vertical into one of the most reliable ski resorts in the East. Liftlines are minimal. Excellent snowmaking and grooming keep the snow smooth and grippy and create miraculous turn-arounds after the inevitable New England thaws. This enables the season to stretch from Halloween to May Day. And Sunday River has enough trails¿126 and counting¿that beginners and radicals alike can find terrain to rip. "Jordan Bowl is a gem!" a reader enthuses, as are White Heat and Lollapalooza. Sunday River has a problem that many Eastern resorts would love: "It's too big. You can get lost," one reader critiques. The long drive to the resort also garners complaints, as do the low-watt dining and nightlife options. No one, however, does a better job of providing consistently good snow. Or as another reader spins it: "My reason to go to a ski area is to ski."

What's New A high-speed quad replaces the old Barker quad; 100 more snow guns; five new grooming machines; an improved ski school and ticketing area at South Ridge.
A Good Deal Take-out at the Good Food Store on Route 2, from burritos to Thai curry, in big portions and priced to sell.
Medals Gold Snow, Grooming, Terrain, Challenge, Lifts; Silver Service, Value, Family.
High/Low Rank Lifts (3); Access (67).
Don't Miss The Sudbury Inn in quaint Bethel village has great food upstairs and hilarious Thursday open-mike "Hoot Nights" in the downstairs pub.
Reader Remarks "Excellent snow, grooming, terrain and challenge." "The death of après-ski."