The most dependable snow in New England
At Sunday River, snow is what we do best. We have the most powerful and technically advanced snowmaking system on the planet and a dedicated team of snowmakers who commit to producing the best conditions around-all season, every season. In the last 10 years, we have spent millions on new snowguns, so that you can book your trip with confidence and enjoy your days on the mountain whenever you come, backed by our Snow Guarantee.
Snowmaking, in principle, is relatively simple. Water is pulled from a source, pumped onto the mountain, and forced through a nozzle by pressurized air. From there, the water droplets freeze into snow crystals and settle to the ground. Want to learn more? Welcome to Snowmaking 101.
Water supply is a critical determinant in how much snow a ski area can make. Sunday River is located near the bottom of a watershed with nearly 43 square miles of drainage. Our water is pulled directly from the Sunday River. Once the snow melts in spring, it returns to the same watershed and river.
Air is measured in volume and pressure. Sunday River operates the world's largest high-pressure snowmaking system and can compress about 54,000 cubic feet of air each minute. This air capacity allows us to run over 300 low-energy guns simultaneously.
Sunday River's arsenal includes over 2,000 snow guns and 30 miles of hose --enough to leave guns set up all winter long on each trail. These are spread along 80 miles of snowmaking pipes that span all eight peaks. Sunday River’s snowmaking operation is one of the largest in the world!
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Sunday River's history with snowmaking goes back to the 1970s, when we were the first ski area in Maine to implement snow guns into mountain operations. The snowmakers found that the guns on the market were not producing enough snow to meet the demand, so in the early 80s, the SR 7 was invented in-house. Today, the SR 7 guns are on their way to retirement to make room for new technology, but the innovation and drive to make the most dependable snow in New England is still a large part of Sunday River's character.
Our snow gun arsenal is comprised of two different elements beyond the SR 7 heads. On South Ridge, you'll find 80 Boyne Low-E Fan Guns, developed by our parent company, Boyne Resorts. The Boyne Low-E gun converts water into snow crystals more efficiently, especially at marginal temperatures above 25 degrees. This greatly improves snow quality and reduces icy build-up while boosting energy and water efficiencies more than any previous technology. The true secret weapon in this snowgun is the exclusive Boyne-designed water bath technology that is capable of yielding higher production output while achieving lower energy consumption. The combination of each of these modifications has created a one-of-a-kind fan gun only found at Boyne resorts.
The guns that are most common and most effective around the resort come from HKD Snowmakers, most predominantly 850 Impulse heads which are mounted on towers. This positions the snowguns high above the trails to allow snow crystals more time to freeze in the air before settling down on trails, and allows each gun to cover a greater surface area. The heads themselves are designed to be energy efficient, enabling us to make more snow using less energy, and allowing us to run more snowguns at one time.
In our T72 and 3D terrain parks, we use the HKD Method snowgun heads. These heads pump up to 110 gallons of water per minute with a consistent air pressure of 120 CFM, making more snow at a faster rate-meaning our terrain park jump lines can be built even quicker.
Life of a Snowmaker
At the heart of snowmaking at Sunday River is our snowmaking team. Snowmaking is a tough job anywhere, but the team at Sunday River proves year after year that they have the tenacity, passion, and expertise to be the best and most accomplished snowmakers in the world. In 2016 our team was recognized by Ski Area Management magazine and HKD Snowmakers as winners of the "I Am A Snowmaker" contest, which included resorts from across North America. Below you'll find their video from this contest, as well as an earlier video about the team and what it takes to be a snowmaker at Sunday River.