Some consider Sunday River to be the ski miracle of the past two decades: A guy with vision and money turns a backwater day-area on a ridge of modest mountains into what one reader calls "one of the best ski areas in New England." People still love the key ingredients of that success. Sunday River's massive snowmaking system delivers some of the best conditions and longest seasons in the Northeast; its groomers produce white wall-to-wall carpet; and all those super-fast quads mean that even on busy weekends the liftlines are minimal. Although its longest run has only about 1,800 feet of vertical drop, Sunday River's 126 trails stretch out for days along seven peaks, making it easy for even the most diverse groups to find something to their liking: a cruise down Lollapalooza maybe, bumps on Agony, the trees of Oz or the wide steeps of White Heat. But now readers think it's time for Sunday River to devote similar vision to the rest of the ski experience. They can't do much about the weather or the long drive up Route 26, but one reader sums up a too-common complaint: "The on-mountain food is poor and overpriced." Others fault shoddily built condos and high prices. But skiers who care first and foremost about what's under their skis will keep coming back, especially in low-snow years. As one reader says, Sunday River "deals with the blows from the weather better than anyone in the East."
WHAT'S NEW A glade in Jordan Bowl; a halfpipe at the base of Barker; expansions to the South Ridge Lodge and the Tubing Park.
A GOOD DEAL L Excellent wood-fired five-dollar pizzas on Tuesday nights at the Matterhorn on the Sunday River Road.
MEDALS GOLD Grooming, Lifts, Terrain; SILVER Snow, Challenge.
HIGH/LOW RANK Grooming (4), Lifts (7), Snow (22); Access (64), Scenery (66), On-
DON'T MISS "Hoot Night," every Thursday at the Suds Pub (below the Sudbury Inn, Main Street, Bethel): Guinness on tap and open-mike hilarity.
READER REMARKS (+) "Best skiing I've done in the East, even when there's no natural snow." (-) "Prices could make Bill Gates think twice about taking his family skiing."