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Lower Ledges at Yawgoo Valley in 2014
Yawgoo Valley
Exeter, Rhode Island
Status: Open
First Season:1964-65
Vertical Drop:245 feet
Standing Lifts:2 doubles, surface lifts
Past Lifts:
Left: Lower Ledges at Yawgoo Valley in 2014
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SkiNewEngland.net Profile
Located in southern Rhode Island, Yawgoo Valley is Rhode Island's only operating alpine ski area.

Early Years

The idea for Yawgoo Valley reportedly dates back to the early 1960s, when Richard Downs was working on his parents' summer camp property and sought to develop a winter business. At the suggestion of a neighbor, Downs acquired property on the 295 foot southeast peak of Yorker Hill and, circa mid 1964, commenced cutting ski trails. A University of Rhode Island student named Maxwell de Wardener was part of the construction crew.

Yawgoo Valley likely opened as a small rope tow served area for the 1964-65 season. One year later, a new Hall double chairlift was installed, making Yawgoo Valley Rhode Island's first chairlift served ski area. The complex included two slopes off the main lift, the beginner rope tow and slope, night skiing and snowmaking, and a skating rink. Press accounts at the time suggested the facility could eventually encompass 100 acres.

The though the 1966-67 season was very profitable for some areas, a warm January hurt business at Yawgoo Valley, resulting in a break even season. By the start of the 1967-68 season, the ski area sported three trails and two slopes.

Yawgoo Valley made national headlines during the summer of 1970, as Quonset Point Naval Air Station faced a housing crisis. As a result, self-called "Navy Gypsies" set up camp at Yawgoo Valley in Navy issued tents while waiting for base houses or apartments to become available.

The early 1970s were tough at Yawgoo Valley, as the 1971-72 season had minimal December skiing and 1972-73 saw 58 days of operation, the majority of which were considered bad.

Seeking to develop a summer business, Downs and Steven Ellis constructed a $10,000 skateboard park in the spring of 1976. By the summer of 1977, an estimated 10,000 skateboarders had visited the park.

Max de Wardener Purchases Yawgoo Valley

Yawgoo Valley circa the mid 1990s
Yawgoo Valley circa the mid 1990s

After graduating from college and becoming a business teacher at Coventry High School, Max de Wardener took over management of the Yawgoo Valley ski school circa 1968. After operating the ski school for over a decade, de Wardener learned the ski area was for sale. Concerned that he could lose his lucrative business, de Wardener's Ski Pro, Inc. purchased Yawgoo Valley from Richard Downs for $300,000 in December of 1980.

A construction crew dumped many loads of fill atop the ski area in the early 1980s, which, when coupled with a rope tow above the chairlift, resulted in an increase in the ski area's vertical drop. Meanwhile, Rhode Island's other ski areas were on the verge of closing. With the closing of Ski Valley after the 1984-85 season, Yawgoo Valley became the state's only ski area.

A second double chairlift, named Conan, was installed for the 1989-90 season.

Outback in 2014
Outback in 2014

Seeking to diversify, Yawgoo Valley added a water park and a 9 hole pitch and putt golf course in the 1990s. In addition, investments have been made in snowmaking infrastructure and snow tubing, further protecting and diversifying winter revenue.

Yawgoo Valley continues to be owned and operated by the de Wardener family to this day, as Max and Patti's daughter Tracy Hartman has taken over as General Manager.

Image Gallery
January 10, 1968 New London Day1967-68 Eastern Ski Map1969-70 Eastern Ski Map
View All Images in Yawgoo Valley Image Gallery

Lifts
Click on lift name for information and photos
Standing Lifts
Installed
The Conan Double circa the 2000s
Conan Double
Doppelmayr
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1989-90
The Proud Mary Double circa the 2000s
Proud Mary
Hall
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1965-66

Past Lifts
Seasons

Maps
1976-77 Yawgoo Valley Trail Map1984-85 Yawgoo Valley Trail Map2001-02 Yawgoo Valley Trail Map2002-03 Yawgoo Valley Trail Map2003-04 Yawgoo Valley Trail Map2004-05 Yawgoo Valley Trail Map
View All Yawgoo Valley Trail Maps

Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
2020s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2019-20$50.002019-20 Ticket Price Graph$449.002019-20 Season Pass Price Graph9.0 days2019-20 Skier Visit Graph
2010s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2018-19$48.002018-19 Ticket Price Graph$475.002018-19 Season Pass Price Graph9.9 daysDecember 8March 172018-19 Skier Visit Graph
2017-18$47.002017-18 Ticket Price Graph2017-18 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 16March 142017-18 Skier Visit Graph
2016-17$49.002016-17 Ticket Price Graph$475.002016-17 Season Pass Price Graph9.7 daysDecember 11March 192016-17 Skier Visit Graph
2015-16$47.002015-16 Ticket Price Graph$425.002015-16 Season Pass Price Graph9.0 daysJanuary 2March 62015-16 Skier Visit Graph
2014-15$47.002014-15 Ticket Price Graph$425.002014-15 Season Pass Price Graph9.0 daysDecember 13March 222014-15 Skier Visit Graph
2013-14$45.002013-14 Ticket Price Graph$425.002013-14 Season Pass Price Graph9.4 daysNovember 30March 162013-14 Skier Visit Graph
2012-13$42.002012-13 Ticket Price Graph$425.002012-13 Season Pass Price Graph10.1 daysDecember 242012-13 Skier Visit Graph
2011-12$42.002011-12 Ticket Price Graph$425.002011-12 Season Pass Price Graph10.1 daysDecember 11March 42011-12 Skier Visit Graph
2010-11$42.002010-11 Ticket Price Graph$425.002010-11 Season Pass Price Graph10.1 days2010-11 Skier Visit Graph
2009-10$42.002009-10 Ticket Price Graph2009-10 Season Pass Price Graph2009-10 Skier Visit Graph
2000s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2008-09$40.002008-09 Ticket Price Graph$400.002008-09 Season Pass Price Graph10.0 days2008-09 Skier Visit Graph
2007-08$38.002007-08 Ticket Price Graph2007-08 Season Pass Price Graph2007-08 Skier Visit Graph
2006-07$37.002006-07 Ticket Price Graph$370.002006-07 Season Pass Price Graph10.0 days2006-07 Skier Visit Graph
2005-06$37.002005-06 Ticket Price Graph2005-06 Season Pass Price Graph2005-06 Skier Visit Graph
2004-05$35.002004-05 Ticket Price Graph$360.002004-05 Season Pass Price Graph10.3 daysMarch 192004-05 Skier Visit Graph
2003-04$34.002003-04 Ticket Price Graph2003-04 Season Pass Price Graph2003-04 Skier Visit Graph
2002-03$32.002002-03 Ticket Price Graph2002-03 Season Pass Price Graph2002-03 Skier Visit Graph
2001-02$30.002001-02 Ticket Price Graph2001-02 Season Pass Price Graph2001-02 Skier Visit Graph
2000-012000-01 Ticket Price Graph2000-01 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 850,0002000-01 Skier Visit Graph
1990s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1998-991998-99 Ticket Price Graph1998-99 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 121998-99 Skier Visit Graph
1996-971996-97 Ticket Price Graph1996-97 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 301996-97 Skier Visit Graph
1995-961995-96 Ticket Price Graph1995-96 Season Pass Price Graph40,0001995-96 Skier Visit Graph
1993-941993-94 Ticket Price Graph1993-94 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 271993-94 Skier Visit Graph
1992-931992-93 Ticket Price Graph1992-93 Season Pass Price Graph25,0001992-93 Skier Visit Graph
1980s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1984-85$10.001984-85 Ticket Price Graph1984-85 Season Pass Price Graph1984-85 Skier Visit Graph
1983-84$10.001983-84 Ticket Price Graph1983-84 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 241983-84 Skier Visit Graph
1982-83$10.001982-83 Ticket Price Graph1982-83 Season Pass Price Graph1982-83 Skier Visit Graph
1981-82$10.001981-82 Ticket Price Graph1981-82 Season Pass Price Graph1981-82 Skier Visit Graph
1970s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1975-76$6.001975-76 Ticket Price Graph1975-76 Season Pass Price Graph1975-76 Skier Visit Graph
1960s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1968-69$4.501968-69 Ticket Price Graph1968-69 Season Pass Price Graph1968-69 Skier Visit Graph
1967-68$4.501967-68 Ticket Price Graph1967-68 Season Pass Price Graph1967-68 Skier Visit Graph

Visitor Memories
"Stuart, you are correct about the addition to the vertical but NOT about the fill that was used. The material was boulders, stone, and gravel from the construction of Mill Pond Rd. which was built due to the closing of the Amtrak rail across Yawgoo Valley Rd. Mill Pond Rd., connected to Liberty Rd. and a bridge over the tracks was constructed so residents in the area would not be trapped by a forest fire. The trail that resulted is called North Forte (not forty) the company that constructed the road and dumped the material."
Pati deWardener, May. 19, 2015
"It should be noted that Yawgoo is one of a very few ski areas that increased its vertical in the late 70's with the establishment of a landfill (garbage dump) on the summit. I believe it brought their vertical to just over 200 ft, from 175. I started teaching there in 1974, for 2 years, moving on to Sugarbush and then Utah."
Stuart Cole , May. 12, 2015
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External Links
  • Yawgoo Valley - official site
  • Last updated: November 5, 2019

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