Gunstock in the Heart of the “Switzerland of America”

Gunstock Mtn. NH
Gunstock Mountain, New Hampshire. Photo taken by Bill Hemmell | © Aerial Photo NH

Gunstock Ski and Recreational Area is not your typical New Hampshire ski area. There is something special about it. Initially, you might not be able to put your finger on what makes it so while you are caught in the flurry of its exciting four-season activities. But if you will look past the state-of-art facility and great events, you will see how the old title for New Hampshire as the “Switzerland of America” suits Gunstock perfectly. That’s what makes it special.

When you think of Switzerland, an idyllic picture of lakes and mountains fills your mind. One trip up Gunstock’s summit chairlift, summer or winter, offers an exceptional alternate that is unbeatable. Everywhere you look, lakes and mountains surround you. Alton Bay sweeps into the broads of Lake Winnipesaukee. The bays at Meredith, Wolfeboro, Moultonborough, and Center Harbor jut into the Ossipee Mountains and the foothills of the White Mountains. Smaller lakes are scattered about the 360-degree panorama including Squam, Wicwas, and Waukewan. To the east, Winnipesaukee narrows to the Weirs and into Paugus Bay. Here Lake Opechee and Lake Winnisquam dominate the vista. To the north, Mount Washington and the White Mountains can be seen rising grandly. All and all, Gunstock’s view is as Swiss-like as it gets.

But there is something more about Gunstock that gives you that lighthearted feeling that you have happened on a little bit of a European vacation. Two hours earlier you may have been in the center of Boston, but as you near Gunstock you begin to pass little chalets along the road including those that are part of the 1960’s development called Chalet Village. When you reach the main parking of the ski area, you are confronted with a massive old ski lodge built in the 1930’s with a distinctive Swiss flair. The wood and stone structure houses a great room lit by wagon wheel chandeliers with vaulted ceilings, mammoth stone fireplace and hearth, and a perimeter wooden balcony. The sight alone will cause a relaxing feeling to flow over you. It’s that feeling you get when you arrive at a resort in the middle of the Alps, knowing you are far removed from the stresses of work and life in general. Even if you must eventually make the trip back to the city, right now you are in an alpine paradise.

Gunstock’s history is distinct from all the other ski facilities in New Hampshire. It is the only county owned ski area in New Hampshire. Built in the 1930s, it was a post-Depression WPA project. Hundreds of unemployed men were hired to construct the main lodge and auxiliary buildings, as well as the first single chairlift in the East, rope tows, cross country trails, camping facilities, and hiking trails. A 60-meter ski jump was finished in the mid-1930s and put the ski area (called Belknap Ski Area at the time) on the national map with championship meets attracting national and international ski jumping stars. In 1960, a local skier propelled the ski area into greater national attention. Penny Pitou, who trained at Gunstock, won 2 silver medals at the 1960 Winter Olympics. After the Olympics, Penny returned to Gilford and married fellow Olympian Egon Zimmermann, Gold medalist at the 1964 Olympics in the downhill. Penny and Egon started the Penny Pitou Ski School at Gunstock during the 1960’s and brought in a number of Austrians as ski instructors, adding to the European atmosphere at Gunstock.

Gunstock’s long skiing history means it also has a host of local characters that still grace its slopes. If you are lucky, you might meet one. These are not Swiss folks, but hardy old Yankees who are just as independent and colorful. Many are still skiing or hiking in there 70’s and 80’s. These locals may clue you in as to where the best patch of wild blueberries can be found in the summer or maybe direct you to the slope with the most favorable afternoon snow in the winter. They’ll have stories to share as to the old-timer reputed to hold the record for consecutive ski days and other important matters in the world of Gunstock. Just like in Switzerland, for many growing up in the Lakes Region, skiing and hiking at Gunstock is a way of life.

The present day Gunstock hosts the old but also the best of the new. Their ZipTour Zip Line was awarded Best Of New Hampshire 2015. There are over 1.6 miles of lines, making Gunstock’s one of the longest in the continental U.S. You can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour as you zip along from the summit. Gunstock’s Arial Treetop Adventure is New England’s largest aerial obstacle course. There are 91 different challenges within 8 distinct courses. Gunstock has just received approval to add a $2.6 million dollar Alpine Coaster ride. Other activities include Segway tours on the cross-country trails, stand-up-paddle boarding on the resort pond, walking along the wetlands boardwalk, hiking the numerous trails, fishing, mountain biking, camping, and, of course, premier skiing and snowboarding. Gunstock has also recently expanded its Nordic center.

Gunstock hosts many special events such as the annual Soulfest (which draws more than 13,000 people a day), the Timberman Triathlon Festival, horse drawn wagon rides, craft fairs, wine and beer tasting, Halloween-themed events, car shows, and the upcoming Public Safety Day. Their Landing Zone restaurant is situated on a new 3,000 square foot patio at the end of the main lodge and offers something for everyone. The area is a popular venue for weddings. It also hosts proms and the Miss Winnipesaukee and Miss Weirs Beach pageant.

Today Gunstock is the 3rd largest by skier visits in New Hampshire. Its summit elevation is 2300 feet. There are 227 skiable acres and 90% of the mountain is covered by state-of-the-art snowmaking. The 8 lifts offer an uphill capacity of 12,400 skiers/hour. Greg Goddard has performed an outstanding job as general manager. He has tremendous respect from all his employees, and he and his team have exceeded expectations in expanding Gunstock into a true four-season vacation mecca.

Come take advantage of all the activities at Gunstock. While you’re there, let your mind peacefully slip into that “I’m away-from-it-all” attitude that an extended trip to the Swiss Alps would provide. One thing is for sure. New Hampshire may not have received its well-deserved title as the Switzerland of America because of Gunstock. But for almost eighty years Gunstock surely has contributed to making the title true.

TIMELINE

1937: first season at newly-constructed Gunstock

1941: Torger Tokle set the hill record on Gunstock’s 60-meter jump

1954: Belknap’s first T-Bar installed

1960: Gunstock skier Penny Pitou wins 2 silver metals at the Winter Olympics

1970s-2000s: constant improvement in infrastructure and snowmaking technology

2011: Aerial TreeTop Adventures, ZipTour, and off-road Segway tours open

2015: Gunstock receives approval to add $2.6 million dollar Alpine coaster

This post was written by Mary O’Neill.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on google
Share on reddit
Share on pinterest
The "Village Store" in Gilford, NH

The “Village Store” in Gilford Has New Owners

Gilford— The “Village Store” in scenic Gilford Village, a Lakes Region landmark since 1836, was …

Read More →
Lakes Region NH - aerial view of Lake Winnipesaukee NH

Lakes Region Waterfront Sales Comparisons

I thought I would look at the real estate activity on the Lakes Region’s four …

Read More →
Island Living on Lake Winnipesaukee in NH - aerial view of Welch Island, Lake Winnipesaukee

Island Living on Lake Winnipesaukee

The thunder of motorcycles has arrived in the Lakes Region. After a long year of …

Read More →
summer fun in nh - swimming in the river

Summertime Adventures Around the Lakes Region

Memorial Day weekend has arrived, and all of us are excited to kick off the …

Read More →
Are we in a real estate bubble?

Are We in A Real Estate Bubble?

Back in April, the red hot search on Google™ was “when is the housing market …

Read More →

Roche Realty Group Sells Artie’s Subs & Pizza

Moultonborough, NH – Brian and Kara Dillard of Barrington, New Hampshire, have recently purchased Artie’s …

Read More →
Laconia, NH - City on the Lakes

Laconia— City on the Lakes

The 17,000 resident, “City on the Lakes,” is nestled on the shores of three of …

Read More →
Alton, New Hampshire on Lake Winnipesaukee

Alton’s Treasures — Natural Resources

Alton, New Hampshire is a scenic community with wonderful natural resources. The town envelopes the …

Read More →
Moultonborough, New Hampshire

Moultonborough, NH — Low Taxes Attract!

Moultonborough, New Hampshire, is a scenic and idyllic community on the northern shores of Lake …

Read More →
Gilford, New Hampshire on Lake Winnipesaukee

Gilford Recognized For Its Quality of Life

Gilford, New Hampshire, has always been a popular destination and a great community to live …

Read More →
Meredith Village on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

Meredith, NH—One of the Top 10 Best Small Towns on the East Coast

It’s always good to see our local towns highlighted in national publications, and recently Meredith …

Read More →

Economic Concerns for Real Estate

For the first time in decades, fiscal and monetary policy will likely remain easy during …

Read More →
The Ledges on Newfound Lake

The Ledges at Newfound Lake

     It is always with mixed emotions how we view the development of our natural areas. …

Read More →
Lakeview Golf Club in Belmont on 172 Acres Sold by Roche Realty Group

Lakeview Golf Club in Belmont on 172 Acres Sold

Belmont, NH- The beautiful 9-hole Lakeview Golf Club located at 89 Ladd Hill Road in …

Read More →
Nutmeg Inn in Meredith NH Sold

Nutmeg Inn in Meredith Sold

Meredith, NH- The historic country Nutmeg Inn located at 80 Pease Road in Meredith has …

Read More →
Housing Inventory Lacking - Lake Winnisquam, NH

New Hampshire’s Four Largest Lakes Lack Inventory

As we’re nearing the 1st quarter of sales activity in the Lakes Region, I thought …

Read More →
Lakes Region Real Estate Market - View of NH Lakes

Real Estate Tidbits in The Lakes Region

Here’s a quick update on the market and a few things I’ve observed that will …

Read More →

Roche Realty Group sells “The Anchorage at the Lake” Resort on Lake Winnisquam

Tilton, N.H. – “The Anchorage at the Lake” Resort located on Lake Winnisqaum and Route …

Read More →
New Construction in the Lakes Region

New Construction and Re-Sale Housing Dilemmas

I’ve seen a considerable amount of new construction and home remodeling taking place in my …

Read More →
Lakes Region NH

Lakes Region Market Competition is Fierce

We are now entering March, the unofficial beginning of our Spring Selling Season. We have …

Read More →
Home inspection report

Reasons Why You Should Not Waive a Home Inspection

We have a very competitive real estate market here in the Lakes Region due to …

Read More →
Photo of homes in New Hampshire's Lakes Region

NH’s Housing Inventory Needs One Thing — LISTINGS

This week I’d like to provide you with a summary of what New Hampshire’s Real …

Read More →
Wicwas Lodge and Lakeland School Property

Roche Realty Group sells the historic Wicwas Lodge / Lakeland School Property

Roche Realty Group, with offices in Meredith and Laconia, recently sold the Lakeland School property …

Read More →
Night picture of Laconia NH

Lakes Region—One of the Countries Hottest Neighborhoods in 2021

Imagine it’s Super Bowl weekend and there’s not a chicken wing or a pizza to …

Read More →
Hiking in New Hampshire

New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine Peak Attractions

In my younger years in school, I always loved geography as a subject. Living in …

Read More →
Moving day

How to hand your home over to its new owner

Remember your first home? Whether it was a freshly painted rental or your first investment …

Read More →

Roche Realty Group Reports Sales of $146.5 Million for 2020

Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group, Inc with offices in Meredith and Laconia, has …

Read More →
Lakes Region NH vs San Francisco, CA

“Lifestyle Finder” For Your Move to or From The Lakes Region

Some studies place moving to a new location as one of the top ten most …

Read More →
Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Winnipesaukee, Newfound and Squam Lake Accolades

Winnipesaukee, Newfound and Squam Lake Accolades It’s always fun to read articles where Lake Winnipesaukee …

Read More →
Kevin Shaw - Roche Realty Group

Kevin Shaw of Roche Realty Group is Top Producer for 2020

LACONIA — Frank Roche, president of Roche Realty Group with offices in Meredith and Laconia, …

Read More →
Center Harbor, New Hampshire

Jaw Breaking Price Increase in 2020 vs. 2019

Last week I pulled up comparisons on year to date sales of waterfront homes on …

Read More →
NH Lake Sales Activity - picture of lake with mountains and homes

Lakes Region Waterfront Sales 2020 vs. 2019

We’re getting near the end of the year, and I thought I would pull up …

Read More →
condominiums on lake winnipesaukee nh

No Better Time to Sell Your Home

We’re heading into the holidays, and all the local Realtors® are busy. They are out …

Read More →
Real Estate News Headlines - Lakes Region NH

Real Estate and Market News

There’s a lot going on out there in the marketplace. So much in the news …

Read More →
Picture of NH condominium home with pool

Affordable Housing is Always in Demand

There’s a lot of talk lately about the lack of affordable housing in the Lakes …

Read More →
Kitchen renovation

Small Improvements Make a Big Difference

During this past spring and summer, a large number of homeowners throughout the Lakes Region …

Read More →
Sales Volume and Prices of Luxury Homes Raising Nationally

Sales Volume and Prices of Luxury Homes Raising Nationally

Many national headlines are talking about the booming high-end vacation home market, in addition to …

Read More →
Support Small Businesses

Are we seeing a retail apocalypse?

During this past summer, I have been talking mainly about the exploding residential real estate …

Read More →
House and cash on a balance scale

Tips for Buyers in a “Seller’s Market”

We are currently experiencing a strong seller’s market here in the Lakes Region. 2020 has …

Read More →
Randy Miller Joins Roche Realty Group

Randy Miller Joins Roche Realty Group

Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group, Inc. with offices in Meredith and Laconia, is …

Read More →
New Construction in the Lakes Region

Lakes Region Construction Activity Update

It has been a wild summer out here in the Real Estate industry!  I thought …

Read More →
The Opera House in Laconia NH

The Vision behind the “Opera House” Renovation: Revitalization of the Lakeport Area

There is a lot of excitement brewing in the Lakeport area! Previously shuttered for decades, …

Read More →

Roche Realty Group Sells Trustworthy Hardware Building

Laconia – Tom Drouin of Roche Realty Group represented both the Seller and the Buyer of …

Read More →
Highland Ridge

Strong Demand at Highland Ridge With 20 Home Sales.

Sales of newly constructed homes throughout the Lakes Region have been very brisk the past …

Read More →
Hikers overlooking the lake in New Hampshire, voted "Best State to Live in America" in 2020.

New Hampshire Leads the Pack Again!

New Hampshire Leads the Pack Again! A recent article on moneywise by Esther Trattner showed …

Read More →

Hot Markets Around Lake Tahoe and Lake Winnipesaukee

I was reading a recent article on CNBC by Robert Frank the other day where …

Read More →
NH River Kayaking

Rolling down the river

A month and a half ago, we had a fun kayaking trip down the Merrimac …

Read More →

Historic Landmark is a Focal Point of Windward Harbor on Lake Winnipesaukee

Visitors to Lake Winnipesaukee have long recognized the special qualities of Windward Harbor. Its deep …

Read More →
South Down Shores on Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

How Did South Down Shores and Long Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee Get Started?

When construction started in 1981, Laconia’s South Down Farm offered an ideal picturesque setting for …

Read More →
Balmoral on Lake Winnipesaukee

Four Season Living at Balmoral on Lake Winnipesaukee

There are so many water-access communities in the Lakes Region that provide great memories. Let’s …

Read More →

Leave a Comment