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Whiteface deserves a visit just for the grandeur of its natural setting. The mountains here in the High Peaks Region, at the heart of six-million-acre Adirondack State Park, supply a drama that easily rivals New Hampshire’s Whites and far surpasses Vermont’s Greens. “Just driving into and around the area takes your breath away,” promises one reader. Throw in one of America’s most charming and authentic ski towns, one-of-a-kind Lake Placid, and you’ll feel like you’ve hit the ski-trip jackpot before you’ve even skied a run.
The Olympic flame might have moved on, but the spirit never dies in this rugged lakeside community, which twice hosted the Winter Games. The town is proud of that heritage, and the Olympics-scale infrastructure in the region makes it the perennial gold medalist in the Down-Day Activities competition. Visitors can check out the “Miracle on Ice” rink, skate on Eric Heiden’s oval, scare themselves silly on the bobsled track, or safely immerse themselves in sports history at the Olympic Museum. At night the streets, lined with shops and restaurants with handsome brick facades, are warmly lit and alive with pedestrians. Peals of laughter ring out from the toboggan run onto the ice of Mirror Lake.
Dining, Nightlife, and Après all earn No. 4 rankings. The nearby slopes of Whiteface, with its biggest in the East vertical (3,430 feet, on a mountain that tops out at 4,865), earns top marks as well. The trails where the Mahre brothers and downhill-winner Leonard Stock made their mark rank No. 5 for Challenge, while the absence of slopeside development at the state-owned area enhances its beauty (No. 3 for Scenery). One reader describes Whiteface especially well, and with just the right amount of Empire State attitude: “It’s huge, it’s tall, it’s really hard … Screw Vermont and their fancy beers and cheese: Ski New York and don’t look back.” Well said—even if said while sipping one of those fancy Lake Placid beers. — Joe Cutts
2021 Reader Resort Rank of Whiteface: No. 5 in the East
- LOCAL TIP: Little-known fact: Abolitionist icon John Brown and others killed at Harper’s Ferry moulder in their graves at his farm in nearby North Elba. A fascinating side trip.
- OFF-HILL RESTAURANT: Big Mountain Deli and Café for breakfast and to-go lunches (only so much can be expected of the Whiteface cafeteria). The also-popular Smokehouse does BBQ right.
- FAMILY EXPERIENCE: The bobsled, if you dare. Seriously, it’s not for the timid— banked turns at 55 mph—but it’s wicked fun. You must be this high (48 inches).
Read about No. 6 in the East: Holiday Valley, New York
Wondering about No. 4 in the East? Check out Killington, Vt.
Whiteface Mountain’s 2020 SKI Magazine Reader Resort Survey Rank: 5th in the East
Once an Olympic village, always an Olympic village— especially if you’ve hosted the Winter Gamestwice, which puts little old Lake Placid in pretty rarified company (St. Moritz, Innsbruck, and soon, Cortina). And while there’s nothing little about the mountains that surround this gem of a ski town and the deep, serene lakes on which it sits (the Adirondacks rival the Whites for rugged beauty), the town still has an intimacy that belies the magnitude of the Olympic history made here (The Miracle on Ice, Heiden’s five golds, Mahre-brother heroics).
Meanwhile, the sheer number of Olympic-quality facilities and attractions around town—the museum, the Nordic trails, the towering ski jumps, and of course, the thrilling bobsled rides—give Whiteface an unfair advantage over other resorts. And so, readers give it the No. 1 ranking for Down Day Activities and a No. 3 for Scenery, while the charming village’s unmistakable sense of place earns a No. 4 for Local Flavor.
Best of all is the skiing at unspoiled Whiteface—particularly if you like a big-mountain test. With its biggest-in-the-East 3,430- foot vertical and Olympic-caliber terrain (No. 5 for Challenge), it never fails to feel like an adventure. One reader does a nice job summing up Whiteface’s appeal: “A hidden gem of the East: bold but not pretentious, challenging but safe, beautiful all the time, and never overcrowded.” — Joe Cutts
- FAMILY EXPERIENCE: Go little: The town toboggan chute is a thrilling slide onto frozen Mirror Lake. Or go huge: Rides on the Olympic bobsled track are silly-scary, and definitely not for tots.
- DINNER PICK: Treat yourself to a stay at the venerable Lake Placid Lodge someday. Meantime, you can get a taste of the place in its excellent restaurant, Artisans: high-end cuisine amid high-Adirondack décor.
- APRÈS-SKI: Check out the Cottage at Mirror Lake Inn and see why it inspires so much Insta-action. Best view in town.
SKI Magazine’s 2019 Review of Whiteface Mountain, New York
It’s sometimes hard to appreciate the size of six-million-acre Adirondack State Park. But its grandeur is hard to miss when you’re in Lake Placid, surrounded by the gob-smacking beauty of the High Peaks Region.
Towering Whiteface Mountain lies at the heart of it. It’s remote, and conservation laws of the State Park ensure that it’ll stay that way: the ski area has the East’s highest vert (3,430 feet) and least development (none). On the other hand, you’re not roughing it when you have Lake Placid nearby. The little mountain town that hosted two Olympics has charm and a sense of place that few resorts can match. Its streets glow with life on winter nights as visitors and locals bustle between its shops, bars, and restaurants, and the Olympic venues offer an unmatched variety of activities. Folks gripe about cold weather and icy trails. But chances are that first-timers will be too enchanted with the charms of Lake Placid to notice the chill. – Joe Cutts
Come to Whiteface Mountain for the…
- FAMILY EXPERIENCE Your kids will want to ride on the Olympic bobsled, so you may as well join ’em.
- SCENERY Don’t be trying to admire the views if you’re skiing Cloudspin (the Olympic downhill). Try Wilmington Trail, a meandering blue run with similar vistas.
- DINING The venerable Lake Placid Lodge remains the toniest address in town (No kids under age 13).
- FAMILY ACTIVITIES Tobogganing down the converted ski-jump ramp onto frozen Mirror Lake.
- DON’T MISS A visit to the Olympic stadium and hockey rink. Or a run down the Olympic bobsled track. C’mon, it’s Lake Placid!