Snowmaking header: Snowguns blowing on White Heat.


The most dependable snow in New England.

At Sunday River, snow is what we do best. We have the most powerful snowmaking system on the planet, and are commitmented to doing whatever it takes to give you the best snow conditions possible - all season, every season. Simply put, we make more snow more often than any other resort so you can book your ski trip with confidence. We've even created a Snow Guarantee to back it up.

At the heart of snowmaking at Sunday River, however, is our snowmaking team. Snowmaking is a tough job anywhere, but the team at Sunday River has proven 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 their 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.

I Am A Snowmaker Contest

Man Vs. Weather

Snowmaking 101

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. So what makes Sunday River special? There are two pieces to that answer. First, we're able to maximize each step of the snowmaking process. And second, we're committed to making snow whenever Mother Nature lets up her own efforts. So not only are we able to make snow when other resorts can't, we're willing to do so when they won't. Want to learn more? Read on.


It sounds impressive when a ski area can claim to cover over 90% of its terrain with snowmaking (assuming they have lots of terrain to start with, of course). But far more relevant to skiers and riders is the amount of snow a ski area can make at one time; this is the only true measure of how fast an area can open new terrain or refresh trails during the season. Since water is the raw material from which snow is made, water supply is a critical determinant in how much snow a ski area can make. Most ski areas are located near the top of a watershed and depend on relatively small water sources like ponds. Sunday River, on the other hand, is blessed to be located near the bottom of a huge watershed with nearly 43 square miles of drainage. Our water is pulled directly from the Sunday River itselt and is constantly replenished. We can pump 8,100 gallons of water up onto the mountain every minute, and our water supply is large enough to supply tens of thousands of gallons more. Once the snow melts in the spring, it returns to the same watershed and river.


In addition to water, air also determines overall system capacity. 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. The high volume and pressurized system allows Sunday River to make more snow than any other resort and allows us to control the process to ensure consistent snow texture from the top to the bottom of each trail. This air capacity allows us to run over 300 guns simultaneously.

HKD Snowguns at Sunday RiverOn-Mountain Infrastructure

Obviously, air and water capacity are the two biggest factors in snowmaking. There are two others: the number of guns in the snowmaker's arsenal, and the spacing of the hydrants on the mountain. Some ski areas own only enough guns to match their maximum water and air capacity, so after making snow on one trail crews must move all of the guns and hoses to the next trail. Sunday River's arsenal includes over 1,900 snow guns and 30 miles of hose - enough to leave guns set up all winter long on each trail. These are spread along 72 miles of snowmaking pipes that span all eight of our mountain peaks. Hydrant spacing is also a factor. Many resorts space hydrants up to 200 feet apart - meaning that each gun must cover a much larger area of the trail. Sunday River utilizes an average hydrant spacing of 85 feet - and on trails intended for early season skiing and riding, hydrants are placed as few as 30 feet apart. Larger spaces between hydrants also tend to produce large "whales" of snow that must then be pushed around by groomers. This packs the new snow down and doesn't allow water a chance to seep out - resulting in hard, sometimes icy snow. By spreading snow evenly as it's made as opposed to afterward, Sunday River can generally avoid grooming new snow for at least 24 hours, allowing the snow to "cure" or dry.

On-Mountain System By the Numbers

  • Snowguns: 1,900
  • Miles of pipe: 72
  • Miles of hose: 30
  • Hydrant stations: 2,200

Skiing on fresh snowmaking New Technology

Sunday River is fortunate to incorporate into its snowmaking mix the advanced technology of 75 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.With the Boyne Low-E Fan Gun, compressed air is injected with a very small amount of water in an inner ring at the center of the gun. This compressed air/water mixture then freezes as it's propelled by the fan and merges with water from the outside nozzles to create crystals. The extended and tapered nose cone adds about 18 inches to the overall length and improves expansion cooling as the air leaves the gun. The greater the expansion cooling, the more water freezes. The unique shape and additional length raises velocity and distributes snow further, allowing more hang time for powdery snow. However, 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.

Over the last several years Sunday River has also invested in tower mounts, which position snowguns high above trails to allow snow crystals more time to freeze in the air before settling down on trails and allow each gun to cover a greater surface area of the traits. To make these tower mounts even more effective, we have also invested in new energy-efficient gun heads which are able to make more snow using less energy, and allow us to run more snowguns at one time. This season, Sunday River has invested $1.1 million in 172 new, energy-efficient snowguns.

Sunday River was also the first to utilize computers to actually control snow quality. Some ski areas rely on snowmaking crews to literally hold their coat sleeves in a plume of snow to judge its quality. At Sunday River, a snowmaker calls the pump house by radio and gives his or her location. The crew chief then enters this location into the computer, which calculates the optimum setting for the guns there, based on the air, water pressure, and weather data, including temperature and humidity, which is relayed by remote weather stations at different elevation bands on the mountain. On each run, the crews check the settings and move the guns to ensure that coverage and snow quality is not only optimal, but consistent.

The Future

Snowmaking is a big part of Sunday River's history and will always be part of our future. As we look toward the future, we will continue investing in our snowmaking system and making each part of the snowmaking chain more efficient and more powerful. This means more snowguns, new technologies, and some big steps foward, like our plan to double the water capacity of our system.