By Halloween in most years, a few high-altitude ski resorts are already spinning lifts. For several other ski areas, spooks take the place of snow during October. From full-fledged haunted attractions to just Halloween costume parties, resorts celebrate the scary season before the ski season.
For the seventh season at Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, N.H., “The Ghoullog” features 15,000 square-feet of indoor creepy rooms and mazes also known as “The Mercer Home for the Criminallly Insane.” A spooky nighttime chairlift ride and the “Haunted Playground” extend the scares across the ski area. The Haunted Playground includes a 3,600-foot mountain coaster, giant swing ride and a zipline. The Ghoullog operates on weekend nights through Nov. 2.
Apparently New Hampshire really gets into Halloween, because Cranmore’s rival among ski areas for the most extensive haunted attraction is just 60 miles away at Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, N.H. Gunstock turns into “Morbid Mountain” on weekend nights through Oct. 26. The resort also hosts the Morbid 5K Run/Walk, billed as “the scariest run in New Hampshire,” on Sunday, Oct. 13.
Also in New Hampshire, Bretton Woods has the advantage of actual haunted legends. The adjacent Mount Washington Hotel was featured in the “Ghost Hunters” TV series. Considering the resort can brag about supposedly real ghosts, it doesn’t need the extreme manufactured gore of The Ghoullog or Morbid Mountain and opts for tamer family entertainment. The Wicked Woods Weekend on Oct. 25-27 features a Family Fall Festival and Kids’ Halloween Party.
Michigan’s Crystal Mountain hosts its annual “Haunted Forest” on a pair of Saturday nights, Oct. 19 and 26, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased for $8 at the resort’s Park at Water’s Edge. Although kids eight and under are free, an indication of the scare factor might be that the resort does not recommend it for them.
Also in Michigan, Boyne Mountain has its annual “Halloween Hoopla” weekend on Oct. 25-27. Like Bretton Woods, Boyne’s activities skew towards families with trick-or-treating, spooky storytime and free hayrides.
Considering Halloween falls on a Thursday this year, Snowbasin Resort in Utah intends to celebrate a day late on Friday, Nov. 1. The resort’s annual Halloween costume party will be held at Earl’s Lodge.
South of Snowbasin in Utah, Sundance Resort gets in the Halloween spirit with a nighttime, Halloween-themed lift ride. Running Oct. 24-31 (except Sunday) from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., the lift tickets cost $15 for adults and $13 for children (ages 6-12).
Finally for skiers and boarders who want to combine carving and costumes on the slopes for Halloween, Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Ski Area will be the best bets. Both Colorado ski areas on the Continental Divide likely will be open by then.