Whiteface ski resort and the two-time Winter Olympic village of Lake Placid are nestled in the Adirondack Mountains in Northern New York State.
Whiteface ski resort is located in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York near Lake Placid. Lake Placid has twice hosted the Olympics, first in 1932 and then in 1980. Whiteface was the venue for the alpine ski events at the 1980 games (alpine skiing would be added in 1936 at Garmisch).
Whiteface has the longest vertical drop east of the Rockies at 3,430 feet. It has been voted the number one ski resort in the Eastern US, in part because of its imposing vertical drop, but also because of its 200 inches of annual snowfall, 86 trails, 283 skiable acres, 11 ski lifts and Olympic heritage. In addition, Whiteface's in-bounds backcountry experience in the Slides and two Olympic downhill runs provide world class challenge to advanced skiers. Intermediates enjoy long cruisers over the entirety of the resort's vertical drop and beginner skiers have a seperate learning facility.
Just 15 minutes from Whiteface, the village of Lake Placid celebrates the region's Olympic heritage and is home to a number of shops, restaurants and hotels. Ironically, Lake Placid is busier in the summer months when the Adirondacks buzz with campers, fishermen, boaters and outdoor enthusiasts. However, there's still plenty to do and explore in town during the winter months.
The Lake Placid regions is home to an impressive array of off-mountain activities which are sure to thrill and excite. Try bobsledding, luge and skeleton or visit to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum. Touch the ice in Lake Placid’s 1980 Rink, home of the most famous ice hockey game of all time, the “Miracle on Ice” victory by the USA over the Soviet Union.
At just four and a half hours from New York City, Whiteface is a comparable drive with many central Vermont ski resorts. It's difficult to beat the continuous fall-line skiing and Olympic heritage at Whiteface, but the resort's much maligned reputation as "Iceface" has a grain of truth to it. Snow conditions tend to be better in the Green Mountain State, but Whiteface's high summit elevation makes it one of the most snowsure resorts in the East.
+ Highest vertical drop east of the Rockies
+ Uniquely challenging expert skiing in the Slides
+ Easily accessible by New York City metro skiers
+ Olympic heritage and nightlife in the nearby village of Lake Place
- Well-deserved reputation for wind and cold
- No on-mountain lodging
Whiteface is perhaps best known as the venue for the alpine events at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. By any standard, Whiteface is big mountain skiing, but the ski area is compact with 86 trails in just 283 acres. Unlike many resorts in Eastern North America which fudge their vertical drop numbers or whose topography prevent non-stop skiing from the top to the bottom elevation, Whiteface’s impressive vertical drop is both legitimate and continuous. Skiers can enjoy 3,450 feet (1,050 m) of non-stop skiing from the top of the Slides, Whiteface's in-bounds backcountry area.
Whiteface offers skiing and riding from three connected summits: Whiteface, Little Whiteface and Lookout Mountain. Beginner and children’s skiing is also available at the Easy Acres Family Center near the base of the resort. The highest lift-accessed skiing is from the top of the Summit Quad, just below the summit of Whiteface Mountain. From here, the scenic “Follies” trail with excellent views of Lake Placid and the Adirondack High Peaks region is a popular choice for intermediates. If you’re feeling a little friskier, “Cloudspin” and “Skyward,” the trails that hosted the men’s and women’s Olympic downhill events, are Whiteface Mountain’s best advanced runs.
The bulk of Whiteface’s terrain is on Little Whiteface, though in reality there’s nothing little about it. Were Little Whiteface a separate, standalone resort it would rank in the top five for vertical drop in Eastern North America at just around 2,500 feet (762 m). It is serviced by the modern Cloudsplitter Gondola, installed in 2006, which carries skiers and riders to the Little Whiteface Peak, providing access to well-groomed intermediate and advanced terrain. A new triple chair has opened up Whiteface’s newest summit, Lookout Mountain. Already several trails and glades are in place and there are plans to expand even more in the coming years.
Despite boasting the largest vertical drop east of the Rockies, Whiteface also has a well-deserved reputation for being difficult, cold, and (more often than not) icy. Affectionately known to locals as “Iceface,” conditions on the exposed summits can often be less than optimal. Additionally, the resort is tall, but narrow. Visitors sometimes complain that they feel like they have skied the same trails all day, because most trails funnel into only one or two (substantial) runouts back to the lifts. This problem has been alleviated somewhat in recent years by the addition of the Lookout Mountain terrain, but low acreage translates into limited trail variety.
Whiteface has 11 lifts offering access to skiing and snowboarding terrain on three summits. Because three chairlifts and the eight-passenger Cloudsplitter Gondola load near the base area, it can often be congested during peak times.
Also, Whiteface is often affected by strong winds and the Cloudsplitter Gondola, Little Whiteface Double, Lookout Mountain Triple, and Summit Quad chairlifts can be closed during periods of sustained wind. The Cloudsplitter Gondola is particularly susceptible to wind delays. Whenever these lifts are not running, the Mountain Run Double and Freeway Double are your best bet. Avoid the Face Lift Quad, where lines build quickly when the gondola goes on wind hold.
The most advanced freestyle park area is Brookside Park accessible from the Face Lift. Brookside Park has the biggest jumps and longest rails on the mountain. Whiteface also offers freestyle terrain for beginners on the Bronze Trail at Kids Kampus where there’s a fantastic mini half-pipe and wide flat boxes designed for beginner skiers and riders.
Whiteface also has a mini-park and a boarder/skier cross course on Wolf and Wolf Run. The course is designed for all abilities with double and triple options for advanced cross riders and roll-over features for less experienced cross riders. The ski cross course and mini-park are serviced by their own chairlift - the Bear Chair.
+ Long, uninterrupted vertical drop
+ Olympic heritage and unsurpassed off-slope activities
- Often cold, windswept and icy
- limited beginner terrain
Beginner skiing at Whiteface is limited. Whiteface is a difficult mountain for beginners and terrain options on the upper mountain are limited. There are no green trails from the summit or from the top of the gondola on Little Whiteface.
Near the base of the resort are two double chairs which offer access to wide green slopes. The Mixing Bowl Double services the Mixing Bowl run, which is a popular choice with adult beginners. The Bear Double services slightly more terrain. Off the Bear Double, beginners will find three trails similar trails - Deer, Fox and Bear.
Beginners looking to explore the mountain can only get as high as the top of the Facelift Quad. While the 1316' drop serviced by the Facelift Quad is nothing to sneeze at, it's also far less than half of the resort's full vertical. The main beginner option from the Facelift Quad is Easy Street. Easy Street does not return directly to the base, but instead merges with Boreen which swings towards the Easy Acres Family Center before turning back for the base of the ski area.
The Easy Acres Family Center is children's and family learn to ski area. This area has the advantage of being wholly segregated from the main ski area - no expert skiers tearing high speed turns through this learning terrain! Beginner skiers will find two lifts in the Easy Acres area. The main uphill lift in is the Bunny Hutch Triple, which services approximately a half dozen novice runs. A magic carpet is used for children's learning.
While the trails in the Easy Acres area are uncrowded and far warmer than the upper mountain slopes, beginner skiers are often disappointed to learn hat a resort whose main selling point is big vertical only offers 258 feet of vertical drop in its main beginner area.
Whiteface’s Snowsports School provides flexible lesson options for beginners, intermediates and experts. Lessons can be by the house, by the half day, or full day. Additionally, the Kids Kampus at the Easy Acres Family Center provides programs for children as young as 1 (Bear’s Den Nursery) through teenages (Cloudsplitter Teen Club). There is nearby parking and this base area is one-stop shopping for lift tickets, lessons and rentals. The Bunny Hutch chair lift connects Kids Kampus to the rest of the mountain, and a shuttle service runs to and from the newly constructed, state-of-the-art Kids Kampus Lodge all day.
In light of its reputation for being a difficult mountain, many will be surprised to learn that Whiteface has a surprising amount of intermediate terrain. Off the Summit Quad blue skiers will enjoy the scenic “Follies” trail which wraps around the shoulder of mountain and affords stunning views of Lake Placid several thousand feet below.
The newly carved Wilmington Trail has become an instant favorite because of its gentle rolls and drops, long length, and surprising lack of crowds. Take the new Lookout Mountain Triple and bear right as you get off the chair. There is also an excellent pod of intermediate terrain below the Freeway Double, but just be sure to get off at the mid-station because all of the terrain at the top terminal is advanced terrain.
Intermediates should also try the Excelsior trail from the top of Little Whiteface – it’s the longest blue run on the mountain – and adventurous intermediates will enjoy the gladed terrain in the Easy Acres Family Center, where two very open tree runs provide a nice introduction to skiing in the woods.
Whiteface is known as a challenging mountain and expert skiers will find no shortage of difficult runs. The resort’s steeps are made more challenging by the fact the slopes are often windswept and icy. Fast and firm is the name of the game at Whiteface, or "Iceface" as it is ofter derogatorily called.
The most well-known of Whiteface's advanced trails are accessible via the Summit Quad, which reaches Whiteface’s highest lift serviced point. Below are two tempting options, Cloudspin and Skyward, hosts of the women’s and men’s downhill events at the 1980 Olympics. Both offer solid, consistent pitch in their upper sections, but Skyward is the local’s favorite for its sharp left turn and abrupt drop into a steep lower half.
Little Whiteface is also home to a number of excellent black diamond runs. The Cloudsplitter Gondola provides convenient and quick access to a handful of parallel advanced runs like Essex, Approach and Empire. On the other face of Little Whiteface and slightly below the summit, skiers can tackle the Olympic Slalom and Giant Slalom slopes that run down towards Whiteface’s mid-mountain lodge.
Whiteface's newest development, Lookout Mountain, offers a New England-style ski experience. The runs here have only been open a few winters, but are rapidly becoming favorites. The trails here are narrower and more rugged than the groomed superhighways found elsewhere at Whiteface. They tend to follow the natural contours of the mountain more closely and provide a welcome change of pace more reminiscent of expert runs in neighboring Vermont.
Lastly, Whiteface's tree skiing is an oft-overlooked part of the resort's advanced offerings. Whiteface's gladed runs collect the snow that’s blown off the resort’s wide slopes. Conditions inside the trees can often be markedly better than conditions on-piste. Favorite glades are the 10th Mountain Division Glade located between Empire and Northway and the new, super long Sugar Valley Glade on Lookout Mountain.
A short hike from the upper terminus of the Summit Quad lie the "The Slides." Standing atop the Slides skiers face 3,450 continuous feet of vertical to the base. As the resort likes to point out, that’s more than anywhere else in the East and many resorts out West, even big name resorts like Vail.
The Slides get their name from the fact they are rockslide and avalanche paths carved out just below the summit of Whiteface Mountain. Remarkably for the Eastern United States, there are genuine no-fall zones in the Slides. They should not be attempted by anyone who is not confident in their ability to make short radius turns in tight spaces.
Offering 35 acres of in-bounds, off-piste skiing down rockslide chutes replete with ice waterfalls, ledges, and trees, the experience in the Slides varies greatly depending on the weather and conditions. In good conditions, they’re as close to skiing Western backcountry as an Eastern skier can get. In marginal conditions, they are rocky, icy and as much as even a true expert can handle. Conditions can and dovary greatly from one chute to the next depending on sun exposure.
The terrain is patrolled, but not groomed or maintained. They are opened only when avalanche risk is appropriately low and are most likely to be open in the spring season. At times the ski patrol may require avalanche gear, including beacons, probes and shovels to enter the Slides. They should not be skied in groups of less than 3.
Whiteface has several dining options from which to choose. At the base area, guests will find the Base Camp Cafe, a standard ski resort cafeteria. There are also two more upscale options: Cloudspin Lounge & Black Diamond Burrito Bar and J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines Cafe & Wine Bar. Both are open for lunch and après-ski.
True on mountain dining options are limited, but Boule’s Bistro in the Mid-Station Lodge near the base of the Mountain Run and Little Whiteface chairs offer great Adirondack vistas and hot food. The spacious outdoor deck is popular on sunny days and even in colder less sunny weather thanks to a large wood fired stove. Upstairs is a cafeteria serving typical ski lodge fare.
At the Kid’s Kampus Lodge skiers can have lunch at the Black Bear Cafe.
Lake Placid, host of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, is one of the Northeast’s great winter destinations. With so much Olympic heritage, there’s never a shortage of things to see or do. The town actually sits on the shores of Mirror Lake, not adjoining Lake Placid. Most of the action is spread along one main thoroughfare, Main Street and Mirror Lake Drive. The shops, restaurants and Olympic Ice Rink are all within walking distance of most downtown Lake Placid hotels.
Visitors should be advised that experiencing the greater Whiteface-Lake Placid region without a car is difficult. There is no slope-side lodging and few, if any, of the hotels in the village of Lake Placid offer a shuttle service to Whiteface Mountain, which is located about 10-15 minutes from the downtown. Additionally, many of the Olympic venues like the bobsled run, ski jump, and cross country ski venue are spread throughout the region, requring a car to reach.
Lastly, while Lake Placid may be most famous for its role in winter sports history, in many respects, Lake Placid is still a summer lake town. Most restaurants and hotels will be open in the winter, but some are not.
5021 NYS Route 86
Tel: +1 518-946-2223
Coca Cola Snow Phone 877 SKIFACE
Apres-ski at Whiteface is limited to the Cloudspin Lounge and J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines Café & Wine Bar, but both bars close shortly after the lifts close, so don’t expect too much in the way of an apres-ski party. Head to Lake Placid village for a wide assortment of apres ski bars.
Downtown Lake Placid is dotted with bars and restaurants, many of which offer apres-ski specials. The best option for nightlife in the village is Zig Zags on Main Street. Don’t worry, you won’t have a hard time finding it – it’s the one with the bobsled full of rowdy tourists parked out front.
The region's best restaurants and bars are found in the village of the Lake Placid along Main Street. From world class cuisine at renowned hotels to a burger and fries, Lake Placid has something for everyone.
The Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood restaurant located on Main Street has an on-site microbrewery. It offers a wide selection of handcrafted beers which are also available for takeout in 2-Liter Growlers. The traditional American fare is good but service can be slow. Be sure buy one of their pint glasses. We like the glass with the Whiteface trail map and a quote from Humphrey Bogart, “The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.” Well said.
The Moose Lodge Boathouse Restaurant at the Whiteface Club Resort is also recommended for great views and equally good food.
If you’re looking for a AAA Four-Diamond meal, head to The View restaurant at the Mirror Lake Inn.
If you’ve ever watched the Olympics and dreamed of the thrill sliding down an icy track in a bobsled, luge, or skeleton, the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex can make those dreams a reality. Before you know it, you’ll be crouched behind a veteran bobsled driver, careening down the slick course defying gravity and pumping your adrenaline to speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour. And after the bobsled, be sure to try the two-man luge, or the skeleton, a dare devil face-first freefall with your chin and nose only inches above the ice track.
And if there’s still time at the Olympic Sports Complex, click into a pair of cross country skis or snowshoes and try the Olympic cross-country course. There is also the opportunity to put some targets in your crosshairs at the biathlon shooting range,. For all of these activities, reservations are highly recommended as the availability is limited and can fill up quickly, particularly during peak periods. Be sure to check the schedules and plan in advance.
In the town of Lake Placid, take a lap at the Olympic Center on the outdoor speed-skating oval where Eric Hayden won 5 gold medals in 1980. Then drop into the adjacent Winter Olympic Museum to view some of the historic moments from the 1932 and 1980 Olympics, including a chance to see or skate on the rink which hosted the famous “Miracle on Ice.”
Olympic Sports Complex
220 Bob Run
Rt. 73 Lake Placid, NY 12946
Tel: +1 518 523 4436
Cross Country Biathlon Center
220 Bob Run
Rt. 73 Lake Placid, NY 12946
Tel: +1 518 523 2811
Olympic Jumping Complex
52 Ski Jump Lane
5486 Cascade Rd.
Lake Placid, NY 12946
Tel: +1 518 523 2202
2634 Main St.
Lake Placid, NY 12946
Tel: +1 800 462 6236 / 518 523 1655
Lake Placid Olympic Museum
2634 Main St.
Lake Placid, NY 12946
Tel: +1 518 302 5377
Olympic Center Box Office
2634 Main Street
Lake Placid, NY 12946
Tel: +1 518-523-3330
Box Office Hours:
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.