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The upper base area at Mt. Sunapee (2004)
Mount Sunapee Resort
Newbury, New Hampshire
Status: Open
First Season:1948-49
Vertical Drop:1510 feet
Standing Lifts:2 high speed quads, 1 quads, 2 triples, 1 double, surface lifts
Past Lifts:1 triple, 4 doubles, 1 single, surface lifts
Left: The upper base area at Mt. Sunapee (2004)
Recent NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News:
10/31/2016: Cannon Mountain Posts Large Loss as Cumu...
4/6/2016: Mount Sunapee West Bowl Expansion Approv...
3/23/2016: Executive Council Postpones Sunapee West...
3/17/2016: Sunapee Receives DRED Commissioner Appro...
SkiNewEngland.net Profile
Located in southwestern New Hampshire, the Sunapee region has been a well-known vacation destination for centuries. Key attractions in the region include Lake Sunapee and 2,726 foot Sunapee Mountain (also known as Mount Sunapee).

Early 1940s Aerial Tramway Proposal

Following the installation of the aerial tramway on Cannon Mountain in 1938, Lake Sunapee area residents attempted to develop an aerial tramway served ski area on Sunapee Mountain. While the lift project made significant strides in 1940 and 1941, the onset of World War II stopped it dead in its tracks.

A Chairlift on North Peak

Mt. Sunapee in 1948
Mt. Sunapee in 1948

With development costs increasing, a scaled down version of the proposal of a state owned and operated ski area emerged following the war. Plans called for the installation of a temporary chairlift, which would later be replaced with a Skimobile. The Skimobile plans were later abandoned, and lift line clearing was underway during the winter of 1947-48 as workers prepared for the installation of a Roebling single chairlift.

The New Hampshire State Highway Department began clearing trails in July of 1948 with Malcolm Chase and Fred Hansen leading the $375,000 project. Allan Beck of Beck and Belluci head up installation of the lift towers. David Heald was named manager of the ski area.

The 3,200 foot single chairlift, running from the base area to the summit of North Peak, was to initially serve a trail for each ability level. In addition, a pair of rope tows (at least one of which was purchased second hand), and slopes were built for novices.

Opening Struggles

Sunapee circa the 1950s
Sunapee circa the 1950s

Governor Charles Dale was present for the grand opening of the new facility on December 26, 1948. Unfortunately, very little snow was present, resulting in scenic chairlift rides without skiing.

Skiing likely did not get underway until early to mid-January. The rope tow slopes were generally open, as was the Hansen-Chase trail, however the novice trail from the chairlift did not debut until later in the winter. The expert Flying Goose also struggled to stay open due to recurring rain.

Following the first ski season, a new picnic area debuted, as well as summer chairlift rides. The tally for rides that summer and fall was 45,000.

Two more trails were added for the second season - the Beck Brook Trail for novices and Lynx for experts. Ironically the December 26th first anniversary bash was much like the grand opening - no skiing was possible. Nonetheless, a 6 foot, 14 layer birthday cake was cut and fireworks shot off. Skiing didn't get underway until January.

The first half of the 1950-51 season was more of the same for Mt. Sunapee, as little quality skiing was to be had in December or January. Things were so bad that agricultural engineers Phil and Joe Tropeano set up an experimental sample snowmaking system on one of the slopes. The Tropeanos would later form Larchmont Engineering.

Sunapee's luck changed with the 1951-52 season, as natural snow lasted well into April. Dick Parker took over as area manager for the following season.

A Sno-Bowl in the Sun

The Sno-Bowl circa the 1950s
The Sno-Bowl circa the 1950s

Sunapee's first big expansion took place in 1953, when the Sno-Bowl, later known as the upper half of the Sun Bowl, debuted. Part of a $150,000 investment, the new complex featured a 2,500 foot T-Bar, accessible from the single chairlift. Unfortunately, the 1953-54 season brought with it multiple rain-thaw periods.

The new T-Bar was heralded as a savior during the first half of the 1954-55 season, as minimal snowfall once again prohibited most skiing on the rest of the slopes. The high elevation Sno-Bowl, on the other hand, was able to stay open through the holiday season.

Sunapee started a three year trail-widening program in 1956, turning many of its original trails into boulevard slopes. A Poma lift was installed on the "Senior Slopes" adjacent to the Flying Goose trail for the 1957 season, replacing an old rope tow.

As the 1960s neared, Mt. Sunapee was outgrowing its infrastructure. For the 1960-61 season, a Roebling T-Bar was installed on the new 15 acre Elliot slope.

Sunapee is Rebuilt

Summit chairlift in the 1960s
Summit chairlift in the 1960s

In the fall of 1961, Governor Wesley Powell requested millions of dollars for upgrading key recreational facilities in the state, including Mt. Sunapee. In March of 1962, the Executive Council approved the first $1.2 million of what was to be a two year investment in the state owned ski areas.

For 1962, $887,128 was invested in Mt. Sunapee, mainly in lift improvements. A double chair (with gondola cars stored for summer use), was installed as the area's first top to bottom lift, crossing over a newly upgraded North Peak double. In addition, a third double chairlift, the Duckling, and a J-bar were installed. Capping off the spending was a $250,000 base building expansion.

While two double chairlifts were planned for the 1963-64 season, the phase two expansion was scaled back to cover a new access road. For 1964-65, $210,000 was spent on a new summit building.

For 1965-66, $175,000 was spent to develop the Province area, complete with a double chairlift. Named after the historic Province Road, the expansion provided an isolated area for novices.

Using matching Federal funds, the state spent a quarter of a million dollars to expand the Sno-Bowl for the 1967-68 season. Replacing the T-Bar was a longer double chairlift. Advertised as the Northeast Bowl, the area is known today as the Sun Bowl.

Struggles Without Snowmaking

In 1969-70, a 29% increase in lift ticket prices, coupled with poor weather, resulted in a significant drop in business.

While Cannon Mountain received state funds for snowmaking expansion, a double chairlift, and a new tramway in the 1970s, Sunapee retained its existing lift infrastructure and continued without snowmaking. In 1973, the state legislature allocated $14,000 for a snowmaking feasibility study at Cannon. Even after a mid-January opening day in 1974 and a Sno-Engineering conclusion that a snowmaking system would be worthwhile, New Hampshire's Department of Resources and Economic Development commissioner George Gilman deemed the project unnecessary. When talk of leasing Sunapee came up later that decade, thus allowing for a private entity to finance snowmaking, Gilman was also opposed.

The early 1980s were not kind to Sunapee, as the lack of snowmaking was magnified by bad winters. Sunapee was only open for 24 days in 1979-80 and only a few dozen more the following season. As a result, the state purchased a $2.2 million snowmaking system for Sunapee in 1982.

For the 1984-1985 season, the State of New Hampshire spent $125,000 on a new maintenance building, pony lift, improved snowmaking equipment at Sunapee.

A Lift and a Lawsuit

Mt. Sunapee in the 1980s
Mt. Sunapee in the 1980s

In September of 1985, the State of New Hampshire awarded a $1,997,500 contract to Riblet for the construction/retrofitting of three triple chairlifts at Mt. Sunapee, despite opposition from Public Works, a ski lift engineer, and Governor Sununu. While the first lift was to be completed in December 1985, it was not ready until the following March, when the State cancelled the contract. A lawsuit resulted, which was not settled until 1993. Due to the fiasco, the North Peak and Summit triple chairlifts were not installed until 1987, when the State of New Hampshire Executive Council authorized a $1,550,000 contract with Doppelmayr. An additional $67,000 contract with Doppelmayr was authorized later that year for work on the Duckling chairlift.

In June of 1988, the State of New Hampshire Executive Council authorized a $148,000 increase in a contract with Sno-engineering for evaluation, upgrading, and expansion at Mt. Sunapee. Later that year, an $45,000 was approved for the study and design of a potential new lodge. The following year, snowboarding was allowed at Sunapee for the first time.

Private Investment and Management

Mt. Sunapee in the 1990s
Mt. Sunapee in the 1990s

After spending millions of dollars and sustaining many operational losses, the State of New Hampshire started to explore getting out of the ski business during the 1990s. In September of 1996, the State of New Hampshire Executive Council authorized a $14,850 agreement with Sno-Engineering for development of a potential lease for Cannon Mountain and Mt. Sunapee.

While initially leases for both state owned ski areas were put out to bid, the proposal was narrowed to just Sunapee in the spring of 1998. At this point, Governor Jeanne Shaheen endorsed the plan. Finalists for Mt. Sunapee included the Muellers, owners of Okemo, VT; the Crowleys, operators of Wachusett, MA, and CSK International, connected with Jay Peak, VT. As part of the agreement, initial lease revenues would be used to fund improvements at Cannon Mountain.

The Mueller family, best known for building Okemo into a major resort, was awarded a lease of the ski area in the summer of 1998. No As soon as the ink was dry on the lease agreement, the Muellers began a $14 million improvement campaign over the next half decade. Improvements began immediately, as snowmaking was improved and two quad chairlifts were installed, including the area's first high speed detachable quad.

For 1999, a new lodge was built adjacent to the base of the detachable quad. For the following season, the aging Province chairlift was replaced with a new fixed grip quad. The new lift, along with a magic carpet, revolutionized the beginner area. By 2000-2001, skier visits at Mt. Sunapee had more than doubled under the private ownership.

The area became part of the Muellers' Triple Peaks company circa 2002. To help disburse crowds and keep the area growing, expansions were planned into the East Bowl and West Bowl, the latter of which was on private land owned by the operators and would potentially involve real estate development. These plans came to a screeching halt when John Lynch was elected Governor in 2004. Despite supporting a publicly funded expansion onto Mittersill Peak at Cannon Mountain, Governor Lynch promised to stop any attempt to expand the area.

Snowmaking in 2013
Snowmaking in 2013

As the banking crisis unfolded, many ski areas across the country transferred their debt into Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). On December 5, 2008, Triple Peaks transferred its privately held Mt. Sunapee assets to CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc.. Triple Peaks then entered into a long agreement with CNL to maintain operational control.

Though Mt. Sunapee was unable to expand due to the political climate, it continued to improve its existing facilities, as well as its snowmaking and grooming. For the 2014-15 season, the Sun Bowl Quad was replaced with a high speed detachable quad (from Okemo).

On July 11, 2014, a judge decided in favor of Mt. Sunapee's operators to potentially clearly the way for the long proposed West Bowl project. Two years later, the State of New Hampshire approved the West Bowl expansion.

NewEnglandSkiConditions.com Reports
Month Average Percent of Terrain Open
December16%    (6 reports)16 Open
January60%    (1 report)60 Open
February93%    (3 reports)93 Open
March73%    (3 reports)73 Open
April100%    (2 reports)100 Open
Recent Conditions Reports
Apr. 2, 2017 by skiit
Packed Powder, Wet Powder
Feb. 12, 2017 by nordicgal
Packed Powder, Frozen Granular
Feb. 11, 2017 by newenglandskier13
Packed Powder, Powder
Jan. 2, 2017 by crossbowsr
Loose Granular, Frozen Granular
Dec. 23, 2016 by nordicgal
Frozen Granular, Loose Granular
Mount Sunapee Resort on NewEnglandSkiConditions.com

NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News
Recent Articles
Cannon Mountain Posts Large Loss as Cumulative Deficits Exceed $9 Million - Oct. 31, 2016
Mount Sunapee West Bowl Expansion Approved - Apr. 6, 2016
Executive Council Postpones Sunapee West Bowl Expansion Approval - Mar. 23, 2016
Sunapee Receives DRED Commissioner Approval for West Bowl Expansion - Mar. 17, 2016
No New Chairlift for First Time in 63 Years? - Mar. 15, 2016
Sierra Club Fighting Mount Sunapee Expansion - Jun. 4, 2015
Mt. Sunapee Receives Preliminary West Bowl Expansion Approval from State - Apr. 16, 2015
Mt. Sunapee to Move Forward with West Bowl Planning - Aug. 21, 2014
Mt. Sunapee Will Replace Sun Bowl Quad in 2014 - Jul. 17, 2014
Okemo Announces 6 Pack Bubble Chairlift; Construction in Progress - Jul. 16, 2014
Mount Sunapee Resort NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com News Page

Expansion History
Project
Season
East Bowl
Cancelled
Sun Bowl
Open
1953-54
West Bowl
Proposed

Image Gallery
1952-53 Eastern Ski Map1953-54 Eastern Ski Map1954-55 Eastern Ski Map1955-56 Eastern Ski Map1956-57 Eastern Ski Map1957-58 Eastern Ski Map
View All Images in Mount Sunapee Resort Image Gallery

Lifts
Click on lift name for information and photos
Standing Lifts
Installed
The Clipper Ship Quad in 2003
Clipper Ship Quad
Poma
Chairlift - Quad - Fixed
2000-01
The Duckling Double in 2002
Duckling Double
Roebling
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1962-63
The North Peak Triple in 2002
North Peak Triple
Doppelmayr
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
1987-88
The Spruce Triple in 2002
Spruce Triple
Riblet
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
1985-86
The top of the lift (October 2014)
Sun Bowl Express Quad
Poma
Chairlift - Quad - Detachable
2014-15
The Sunapee Express Quad in 2002
Sunapee Express Quad
Poma
Chairlift - Quad - Detachable
1998-99

Past Lifts
Seasons
Elliott T-Bar
Roebling
T-Bar
1960-61
-
1984-85
The North Peak Double (bottom) and Summit Double (top) circa the 1960s
North Peak Double
Roebling
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1962-63
-
1986-87
The Single Chair circa the late 1940s
North Peak Single
Roebling
Chairlift - Single - Fixed
1948-49
-
1961-62
Pomalift

Platter
1957-58
-
1960s
Province Double
Heron-Hopkins
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1965-66
-
1999-00
The Summit Double circa the 1960s
Summit Double
Roebling
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1962-63
-
1986-87
Summit T-Bar
Hopkins
T-Bar
1953-54
-
1966-67
Summit Triple
Doppelmayr
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
1987-88
-
1997-98
The Sun Bowl Double circa the mid to late 1960s
Sun Bowl Double
Heron-Hopkins
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1967-68
-
1997-98
The Sun Bowl Quad in 2002
Sun Bowl Quad
Poma
Chairlift - Quad - Fixed
1998-99
-
2013-14
Sunny Slopes J-Bar
Robbins
J-Bar
1962-63
-
1983-84

Maps
1962-63 Mt. Sunapee Trail Map1963-64 Mt. Sunapee Trail Map1964-65 Mt. Sunapee Trail Map1967-68 Mt. Sunapee Trail Map1968-69 Mt. Sunapee Trail Map1970s Mt. Sunapee Trail Map
View All Mount Sunapee Resort Trail Maps

Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
2010s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2017-18$93.002017-18 Ticket Price Graph$1375.002017-18 Season Pass Price Graph14.8 daysNovember 222017-18 Skier Visit Graph
2016-17$84.002016-17 Ticket Price Graph$1269.002016-17 Season Pass Price Graph15.1 daysDecember 6April 9222,0002016-17 Skier Visit Graph
2015-16$82.002015-16 Ticket Price Graph$1249.002015-16 Season Pass Price Graph15.2 daysNovember 27March 27179,0002015-16 Skier Visit Graph
2014-15$79.002014-15 Ticket Price Graph$1199.002014-15 Season Pass Price Graph15.2 daysNovember 28April 19261,0002014-15 Skier Visit Graph
2013-14$76.002013-14 Ticket Price Graph$1149.002013-14 Season Pass Price Graph15.1 daysNovember 29April 13254,0002013-14 Skier Visit Graph
2012-13$74.002012-13 Ticket Price Graph$1119.002012-13 Season Pass Price Graph15.1 daysNovember 30April 14255,0002012-13 Skier Visit Graph
2011-12$72.002011-12 Ticket Price Graph$1089.002011-12 Season Pass Price Graph15.1 daysDecember 11March 22214,0002011-12 Skier Visit Graph
2010-11$70.002010-11 Ticket Price Graph2010-11 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 30April 10288,0002010-11 Skier Visit Graph
2009-10$68.002009-10 Ticket Price Graph2009-10 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 8April 8265,0002009-10 Skier Visit Graph
2000s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2008-09$66.002008-09 Ticket Price Graph$999.002008-09 Season Pass Price Graph15.1 daysNovember 28April 5273,0002008-09 Skier Visit Graph
2007-08$64.002007-08 Ticket Price Graph$969.002007-08 Season Pass Price Graph15.1 daysNovember 23April 20280,0002007-08 Skier Visit Graph
2006-07$62.002006-07 Ticket Price Graph$929.002006-07 Season Pass Price Graph15.0 daysDecember 6April 22230,0002006-07 Skier Visit Graph
2005-06$58.002005-06 Ticket Price Graph$899.002005-06 Season Pass Price Graph15.5 daysNovember 25April 3234,0002005-06 Skier Visit Graph
2004-05$56.002004-05 Ticket Price Graph$995.002004-05 Season Pass Price Graph17.8 daysDecember 5April 10257,0002004-05 Skier Visit Graph
2003-04$54.002003-04 Ticket Price Graph$965.002003-04 Season Pass Price Graph17.9 daysDecember 4April 11229,0002003-04 Skier Visit Graph
2002-03$51.002002-03 Ticket Price Graph$920.002002-03 Season Pass Price Graph18.0 daysNovember 29April 13272,0002002-03 Skier Visit Graph
2001-02$49.002001-02 Ticket Price Graph$890.002001-02 Season Pass Price Graph18.2 daysDecember 10April 7231,0002001-02 Skier Visit Graph
2000-01$47.002000-01 Ticket Price Graph$865.002000-01 Season Pass Price Graph18.4 daysNovember 23April 22258,0002000-01 Skier Visit Graph
1999-00$44.001999-00 Ticket Price Graph1999-00 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 25April 2189,0001999-00 Skier Visit Graph
1990s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1998-99$41.001998-99 Ticket Price Graph1998-99 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 11April 11165,0001998-99 Skier Visit Graph
1997-98$37.001997-98 Ticket Price Graph1997-98 Season Pass Price Graph109,1831997-98 Skier Visit Graph
1996-97$37.001996-97 Ticket Price Graph1996-97 Season Pass Price Graph107,4671996-97 Skier Visit Graph
1995-961995-96 Ticket Price Graph1995-96 Season Pass Price Graph119,8801995-96 Skier Visit Graph
1994-951994-95 Ticket Price Graph1994-95 Season Pass Price GraphMarch 2672,7191994-95 Skier Visit Graph
1993-94$34.001993-94 Ticket Price Graph1993-94 Season Pass Price Graph1993-94 Skier Visit Graph
1992-93$32.001992-93 Ticket Price Graph1992-93 Season Pass Price Graph115,0001992-93 Skier Visit Graph
1991-92$31.001991-92 Ticket Price Graph1991-92 Season Pass Price Graph1991-92 Skier Visit Graph
1990-91$29.001990-91 Ticket Price Graph1990-91 Season Pass Price Graph1990-91 Skier Visit Graph
1989-90$27.001989-90 Ticket Price Graph1989-90 Season Pass Price Graph120,0001989-90 Skier Visit Graph
1980s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1988-89$24.001988-89 Ticket Price Graph1988-89 Season Pass Price GraphMarch 2656,0001988-89 Skier Visit Graph
1987-88$22.001987-88 Ticket Price Graph1987-88 Season Pass Price Graph1987-88 Skier Visit Graph
1986-87$20.001986-87 Ticket Price Graph1986-87 Season Pass Price Graph1986-87 Skier Visit Graph
1985-86$18.001985-86 Ticket Price Graph1985-86 Season Pass Price Graph1985-86 Skier Visit Graph
1983-84$18.001983-84 Ticket Price Graph1983-84 Season Pass Price Graph1983-84 Skier Visit Graph
1982-83$16.001982-83 Ticket Price Graph1982-83 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 241982-83 Skier Visit Graph
1981-821981-82 Ticket Price Graph1981-82 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 181981-82 Skier Visit Graph
1980-81$12.001980-81 Ticket Price Graph1980-81 Season Pass Price Graph1980-81 Skier Visit Graph
1979-80$11.001979-80 Ticket Price Graph1979-80 Season Pass Price GraphFebruary 171979-80 Skier Visit Graph
1970s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1978-79$11.001978-79 Ticket Price Graph1978-79 Season Pass Price Graph1978-79 Skier Visit Graph
1977-78$11.001977-78 Ticket Price Graph$300.001977-78 Season Pass Price Graph27.3 days1977-78 Skier Visit Graph
1976-77$10.001976-77 Ticket Price Graph$240.001976-77 Season Pass Price Graph24.0 days1976-77 Skier Visit Graph
1974-751974-75 Ticket Price Graph1974-75 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 181974-75 Skier Visit Graph
1973-74$9.001973-74 Ticket Price Graph1973-74 Season Pass Price GraphJanuary 101973-74 Skier Visit Graph
1972-73$9.001972-73 Ticket Price Graph1972-73 Season Pass Price Graph1972-73 Skier Visit Graph
1971-72$9.001971-72 Ticket Price Graph1971-72 Season Pass Price Graph1971-72 Skier Visit Graph
1970-71$9.001970-71 Ticket Price Graph1970-71 Season Pass Price Graph1970-71 Skier Visit Graph
1969-70$9.001969-70 Ticket Price Graph1969-70 Season Pass Price Graph1969-70 Skier Visit Graph
1960s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1968-69$7.001968-69 Ticket Price Graph$115.001968-69 Season Pass Price Graph16.4 days1968-69 Skier Visit Graph
1967-68$7.001967-68 Ticket Price Graph1967-68 Season Pass Price Graph1967-68 Skier Visit Graph
1966-67$7.001966-67 Ticket Price Graph1966-67 Season Pass Price Graph1966-67 Skier Visit Graph
1964-65$6.001964-65 Ticket Price Graph1964-65 Season Pass Price Graph1964-65 Skier Visit Graph
1963-64$6.001963-64 Ticket Price Graph1963-64 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 26124,0001963-64 Skier Visit Graph
1962-63$6.001962-63 Ticket Price Graph1962-63 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 24124,0001962-63 Skier Visit Graph
1961-621961-62 Ticket Price Graph1961-62 Season Pass Price Graph100,8501961-62 Skier Visit Graph
1960-611960-61 Ticket Price Graph1960-61 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 161960-61 Skier Visit Graph
1959-60$4.501959-60 Ticket Price Graph1959-60 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 281959-60 Skier Visit Graph
1950s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1958-59$4.501958-59 Ticket Price Graph1958-59 Season Pass Price GraphJanuary 31958-59 Skier Visit Graph
1955-561955-56 Ticket Price Graph1955-56 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 10April 221955-56 Skier Visit Graph
1954-551954-55 Ticket Price Graph1954-55 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 41954-55 Skier Visit Graph
1949-501949-50 Ticket Price Graph1949-50 Season Pass Price GraphJanuary 221949-50 Skier Visit Graph
1940s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1948-491948-49 Ticket Price Graph1948-49 Season Pass Price GraphJanuary 22March 271948-49 Skier Visit Graph

Visitor Memories
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External Links
  • Mount Sunapee - official site
  • Sunapee Mountain - FranklinSites.com Hiking Guide
  • Jonni's Mount Sunapee Ski Guide
  • Mount Sunapee - TaxpayersforCannon.com
  • Last updated: April 20, 2017

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