This is the largest ski resort in New York and the only one of the High Peaks reachable by car. With the highest vertical drop in the East (3,216 feet), this was the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics downhill competitions.
The wide variety of trails provides fun for all skill levels, and families will appreciate the Whiteface Kids Kampus, with ski and snowboard instruction. Ride the gondola to the summit of Little Whiteface, then hike back to base lodge along the scenic Stag Brook Falls nature trail.
Open year round, Whiteface Mountain is an ideal family friendly outdoor recreation area.
Despite first impressions, Whiteface Mountain really is a great place for families to ski. If you've ever driven up to Whiteface, you'll understand. The mountain, compared to neighboring mountains, appears steep. It does have the greatest vertical east of the Rockies which is why so many world-class skiers train here. But how does that make Whiteface a great mountain for beginners and families? It's all about variety!
The folks at Whiteface understand the needs of families and have created a great environment for skiers of all skill levels to learn, play, and grow their abilities. From the Snowsports School and Kids Kampus to the legendary Slides, Glades, and Terrain Park for advanced folks, this mountain has terrain for everyone.
The recently renovated base lodge offers up the usual ticketing, rental, and ski school programs but also has a delicious variety of dining options. The J. Lohr Cafe and Wine Bar drew a sophisticated, grown up crowd. Their menu has delicious coffees, homemade sweets, and locally sourced Adirondack dishes to please the refined palate.
For the rest of us, the Base Camp Market has a wide variety of pizza, soups, chili, sandwiches, grill, and deli items at good prices. There's also a Cloudspin Lounge which overlooks the base of the mountain. If it's warm enough, there are great patio seating options but we opted to stay inside and watch as folks finished their runs down the mountain before taking the gondola and lifts back up for another.
Over at the Kids Kampus Lodge, we enjoyed chili and pizza in the Black Bear Cafe. It's ideal for families with young children as you can sit and watch the older kids in their lessons while the littlest ones are warm inside. They even have kid friendly television programming on the TVs in the Cafe.
For more information about the Kids Kampus and Snowsports School, please read my review at: http://www.trekaroo.com/activities/snowsports-school-and-kids-kampus-whiteface-wilmington-new-york
Special thanks to Whiteface Mountain for hosting a portion of my winter adventure. I received complimentary Kids Kampus and rentals for two days. As always, the views expressed are mine.
Whiteface Mountain was the site of the cross country ski events during the 1932 Olympics and the downhill and slalom events for the 1980 Winter Games. Our Olympic Passports included a ride to the top of Little Whiteface Mountain in the Cloudsplitter Gondola.
The gondola whisked us 2,500 feet up to the summit of Little Whiteface Mountain in approximately 15 minutes. At the top, there are incredible views of Lake Placid and the surrounding mountains. To verify its magnificence, on the day we visited, a bride, groom, and preacher followed in the gondola behind us for a wedding amongst the clouds.
Okay...so maybe not like an Olympian, but at least where the Olympians have skied. Lake Placid hosted two separate Olympic games here and currently it is used for training and competitions.Whiteface is in nearby Wilmington and is where the skiing portion of the Olympics took place. Whiteface is the tallest skiing mountain in the east. They have a trail serviced by a lift that is over 3000ft up. There are also 86 other trails and 11 lifts.
This mountain is HUMONGOUS. Of course kids have little fear, but as adult I looked at the mountain and thought 'I'm not going up there.' However, trying to be a good example for my kids, but also understanding my limits, I decided it was worth giving it a try.
We arrived at 8:00 in the morning with the rest of the early risers. The ski day here winds down around 3 and closes at 4pm. You must get an early start for the best conditions. The day we skied was supposed to be extremely cold, but it ended up being quite comfortable and it actually snowed, an unusual happening this winter. This made for some great conditions. The vista from the mountain into the Adirondacks is fabulous. Additionally from here it is only a 10 minute ride to the quanit town of Lake Placid.
If you are skiing with kids my recommendation is to avoid the base lodge and therefore the first parking lot you come to when you arrive. Head right up to the Kids Kampus. There is plenty of parking and rentals available right here. As a matter of fact everything you want is here; equipment, a small ski store for the goggles you will forget, comfy chairs for relaxing, a cafeteria, lockers, clean restrooms and babysitting. You can reach the trails on the entire mountain by starting with the lift here.
Skiing in the learning area was enough for me though I did venture onto the other green trails nearby. The majority of the mountain is covered by black or advanced trails, but you can enjoy Whiteface without ever having to travel on those should you chose not to. The green trails are challenging enough for novice to intermediate skiers and due to the fact that there are so many advanced trails, the green trails are remarkably uncrowded. The lack of crowding makes for some enjoyable runs without constantly worrying about what hot shot is coming up behind you. If you want the hot shot skiing you can head for the black trails.
Saying that they are green tails might give the impression that these are 'wimpy' runs. Far from it. They are long, winding and sometimes steep trails. If you are looking for family friendly exhilaration this is the place to get it.
My son tried snowboarding for the first time on this mountain. What an introduciton! There were a fair amount of boarders though the majority of downhillers seemed to be skiiers in the learning area.We experienced no waiting at any time for the lifts we went on. I asked the director of the ski school about the size of the crowd figuring this was a factor in the short waits. She said it was an average Saturday which would lead me to believe that at least where we skied, lines must be infrequent. This is great when you have a bunch of kids who want to ski!!!
The Lodge and Cafeteria
Service is quite friendly at the lodge. We even had an off-duty instructor give us some complimentary hot chocolate coupons for the kids. The ski school personnel were accommodating as were the attendants in the ski shop. Additionally as is not always the case at ski mountains, helmets are part of the rental and are a requirement.
The cafeteria at the Kids Kampus was complete with the requisite hot chocolate and steamy soup bowls. Complimentary water is available from a water cooler. They also have sandwiches and other quick food for sale. There are other restaurants on site at Whiteface high....up.... on the hill. I am sure the service here is similar..but we did not make it up there. There is also service at the base lodge.
Regular priced lift tickets are priced at $79 for adults, $51 kids 7 -12 and $64 for teens. Kids 6 and under are free!!
Rentals for adults 13+ are $44/day and for kids to 12 $33/day.
The company that owns Whiteface also has other adventure options for non-skiers and thrill seekers of other types. In Lake Placid you can check out the ski jumps, go snow tubing, ride a Bobsled (minimum height 48'') or the Skeleton experience for ages 13 and up. At the mountain itself you can ride the Cloudsplitter Gondola to take in the grand beauty of the majestic Adirondacks.
I am not sure why we had never heard of Whiteface before although we are only a 5 hour and 1 state away drive. It was phenomenal and we would like to head back again some day as we continue to improve our skiing skills and to check out all of the other actvities the mountain has to offer.
Disclosure: My family and I were provided lift tickets, rentals and lessons at Whiteface in an opportunity to explore the Adirondacks in the winter. I was not required to make any specific review and this had no bearing on my evalutaiton of the mountain.