Ragged Mountain is one of the best-kept secrets in New England. As large and mid-size areas are increasingly becoming corporate and losing their connection to their local communities, Ragged Mountain has maintained its culture and its seeming independence. Ragged Mountain is owned by Pacific Group Resorts, which operates a small number of ski areas, including the Mid-Atlantic’s Wisp and Wintergreen Resorts. Ragged Mountain has become a favorite for both young and old skiers and boarders looking for a generally uncrowded, friendly, and less hectic experience. Ragged Mountain has no condos, no hideous-looking McMansions, or “fine dining” restaurants serving streetcar quality food at Waldorf Astoria prices.
In its place, Ragged offers great steeps, mellow blues, and a superb learner’s mountainside, along with a top-notch ski school. It consists of two mountains with high-speed lifts and unending glades between them. The ski area has a Lodge with an outstanding pub, two floors of homey, cozy, welcoming spaces, a four-sided fireplace the size of a hotel room, and a store. Parking is widely available. Ragged Mountain has a remote-like location that matches its ski culture.
Ragged Mountain had been eyed as a ski resort since the 1930s. However, it was in the 1950s that the idea began taking shape, and in the 1960s the first chairlifts went up. A series of ownership changes and bankruptcies followed, leading to the Pacific Resorts acquisition in 2007 and its eventual modernization and transformation into a modern resort with superb infrastructure.
Ragged Mountain is in Danbury, New Hampshire, a humble town that had more prosperous days during the railroad age and now counts on the resort as one of its main employers. The resort can be accessed from I-89 via New London and then on to Danbury, or I-93 via Hampton and Bristol. It is worth mentioning that if arriving via I-89, GPS directions will likely route drivers through New Canada Road. During winter, however, this road may not be reliable as it is unpaved, often closed to through traffic, and major ruts may be present. In addition, the road has a descending 90 degree turn near the entrance to the resort, and in snowy or icy conditions it can be intimidating.
Accessing the resort from Ragged Mountain Road, ample parking areas on both sides of the road, and an ample drop-off area, make this resort’s arrival easy to navigate. Early arrivals will park on the nearest lot which is about 50 feet from the main lodge, Elmwood Lodge. Parking lot 2 is a two-minute walk from the lodge. As a first-tracks devotee, I arrive about thirty minutes before the first chair and invariably park very close to the lodge.
Elmwood Lodge is one of the nicest ski lodges in New Hampshire. A huge main floor sporting a four-sided fireplace the size of a bedroom greets the visitors. Upstairs, additional and ample seating is located, in addition to the Hearth Pub, a superb establishment featuring some of the best New England beer selections and finger-licking flatbread pizzas at the side of another huge fireplace. The lodge also has an original wing where nowadays the cafeteria, store, restrooms, offices, and The Birches, the resort’s restaurant, are located.
Entering the lodge, guests may don boots and equipment at one of the tables. There are plenty of pegs along the walls and on the columns. However, on busy days people end up commandeering tables with their equipment and bags, perhaps my only criticism of the resort.
There is precious little in the way of overnight hotel lodging in the immediate Danbury area, but there are several superb B&Bs and inns. Ragged Mountain has a relationship with the Mountain Inn, a beautiful complex dating back to the early 1800s. The Cardigan Cabins are modern condos available for rental. And several inns maintain a partnership relationship with the mountain.
Ragged Mountain’s hours of operation this past season were 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Ragged Mountain has a vertical drop of 1,250 feet covering 250 acres. 85% of its terrain is covered by snowmaking.
The mountain is divided into three parts. The main face of Ragged Mountain is accessible from a high-speed six-pack lift. It has very nice, groomed terrain, some of it challenging and steep close to the lift line, and some absolutely enjoyable blues and green runs to its east.
Ragged Mountain had planned to expand with a new mountainside, lift, and additional infrastructure. The trails were cut, but the infrastructure is still to be developed on the premises.
Starting a ski day on Blueberry Patch to Lower Ridge is an excellent way to ski a long cruiser and assess the conditions, followed by Wild Ride, Newfound Ridge, and Main Street, solid blue runs, which are interspersed by short but enjoyable black diamonds. The flagship run on this side is Exhibition, which runs under the high-speed six-pack. Between Exhibition and Main Street, the Exhibition Glades are noteworthy for their quality and sheer enjoyment. It should also be noted that for beginners, the Raggedy Ann Glades are optimum training.
The second part of the mountain is the Spear high-speed quad. From this lift, a wonderful and steep run, Showboat, a challenging blue Flying Yankee, and a long cruiser, Cardigan, are groomed to perfection. Between both peaks, numerous glade runs offer the adventurous plenty of fun.
The learning area is below the Spear Quad and accessible from the main area as well as from Cardigan run on the Spear side. This side has two carpets and a fixed triple suitable for children. Ragged Mountain has a superb training program for children six and up. For children 13 and up and adults, the Bebe Wood program provides rentals, a two-hour lesson, and a lift ticket on the lower mountain for the entire day. After completing three days of the Bebe Wood program, participants can then purchase a season pass for only $79 for the remainder of the season.
Ragged Mountain is an amazingly well-run, friendly, and well-equipped resort. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up in the quality of skiing and normally, the lack of crowds. As the corporate competitors in the area and throughout New England have featured unmanageable crowds and a reduced guest experience, Ragged Mountain has been the go-to place for families looking for a better overall experience.
While actually born in the tropics (Cuba), Lou grew up in New England and went to College in Vermont, where he initially took up skiing. He then embarked on a twenty-two year Air Force piloting career that took him to over 50 countries. He has skied in Europe and America (both North and South). His second career as a senior officer with the Federal Government spanned thirteen years and in 2010, Lou retired to pursue a more leisurely life style.