One resort, you, your family and lots of snow: where are you going?
In the East, I’d take my family to Whiteface/Lake Placid. I listed both the lift-served mountain and the nearby town because Whiteface isn’t a ski resort per se. It’s a state-owned ski area located in the midst of New York State’s “Forever Wild” Adirondack Mountains – meaning that there can be no hotels or other non-essential resort accoutrements at the base – with a great ski town about ten minutes away.
My reasons: 3,100 vertical feet of varied terrain, excellent grooming, Olympic pedigree, and no condos or hotels at the bottom to wreck the views.
What makes Whiteface good for families?
Whiteface has completely separate beginner terrain with dedicated lifts, a brand new lodge, a video security system, and a dedicated parking lot.
In addition to skiing, there are piles of off-mountain activities in Lake Placid: x-c skiing, dog-sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice hockey, skating, sleigh rides. There’s a ski jump trestle that‘s been converted into a toboggan run. You zoom down an icy chute and shoot 1,000 feet across frozen Mirror Lake.
The town continues to masterfully leverage its hosting of the 1932 and 1980 Olympics. It’s literally everywhere and the public is allowed to interact with this legacy at every turn. The famed Olympic Center in the middle of town (with an indoor ice rink and a 400-meter outdoor speed-skating oval that are both open to the public) is still in full operation and has, ever since the electrifying “Miracle on Ice” three decades ago, become a pilgrimage site for hockey players and fans. At the Olympic Museum, the family can learn the inside story about how this small village hosted two of the most memorable Winter Games ever.
At the Van Hoevenburg Olympic Sports Complex, a few miles outside of town, you can cross-country ski on 30 miles of groomed trails and then do some target practice at the biathlon shooting range. After watching athletes train on the ski jumps, visitors can also check out the observation deck at the top of the K-120 meter jump (impressive).
For adventurous families, the bobsled run, newly built a decade ago, is unforgettable.
What would make Whiteface even better for families?
There’s a gap in terrain choices between easy beginner trails (plenty) and double-blues. Families may wish that there were more lower-intermediate runs.
Part of the tradeoff for the anti-resort ambiance (which appeals to me) is that there is no on-mountain lodging – thus, it can be less convenient for families. That said, we do have a favorite place to stay in Lake Placid: the High Peaks Resort.
What is your favorite Whiteface memory?
The bobsled run. It’s over in two minutes, but you’ll never forget it. (And I’ll probably never do it again – it’s pretty terrifying for a wimp like me).
The Brave Ski Mom Adds…
I am a sucker for skiing history and historical ski resorts. Oh yes, and the Olympics, too. Thus Whiteface and Lake Placid are right up my alley. Someday…
Thank you to James for sharing his impressions of the Whiteface and all the fun to be had there. As mentioned above, James edits New York Ski Magazine. He began skiing 10 years ago at the age of 35 and has not looked back. And while he does spend a lot of time skiing in the East, I met him in Utah.
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