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With Olympic fever hitting me hard (can’t wait for the 2022 Games to kick off in February), I was excited to visit a US Olympic venue for a recent ski trip. Whiteface is a terrific mountain for all abilities AND it’s located in the charming town of Lake Placid. The combination of great skiing and a perfect little mountain town make this a terrific destination for families who ski and ride. I've got the details to help families plan the perfect ski trip to Whiteface.

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Plan the Perfect Ski Trip to Whiteface

Olympic History

Lake Placid is known as America's first winter resort. The iconic New York State ski town hosted two Olympic Winter Games in 1932 and 1980. If you are old enough, you probably remember the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" when the U.S. ice hockey team defeated the powerful Soviets, the dominant team in international hockey and our Cold War enemy, en route to winning the gold medal.

Visitors can benefit from the big investment in infrastructure that comes with hosting the Olympics. After the 1980 Olympics, New York state announced its decision to place the responsibility for maintaining, managing, and promoting all of the Olympic venues under one organization, the New York Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA). ORDA's key initiatives have been instrumental in nurturing Lake Placid's status as a world class winter sports center. Over the last 23 years, initiatives have included continued bidding on international winter sports events, construction of the Olympic Training Center in 1995, construction of the new combined bobsled, luge and skeleton run in 2000, improvements at Whiteface Mountain including the addition of a gondola, and most recently, the construction of the new Conference Center at Lake Placid. Visitors can experience everything from bobsled rides to skating in the speed skating oval.

Plan the Perfect Ski Trip to Whiteface

Mountain Statistics

To start, let's talk about the mountain. Whiteface Mountain is located inside the six-million-acre Adirondak Park. It's steep and spectacular. Whiteface has the greatest vertical east of the Rockies--3,430'. Wide groomers abound on 22 miles of trails and you can also find powder stashes in the 53 acres of glades.

  • Base Elevation: 1,220′
  • Little Whiteface Elevation: 3,676′
  • Lookout Mountain Elevation: 4,000′
  • Highest Lift Terminus: 4,386′
  • Highest Skiable Terrain: the Slides at 4,650′
  • Peak Elevation: 4,867′
  • Total number of trails: 90
  • Total distance of skiing and riding: over 22 miles
  • Longest run on Whiteface: Wilmington Trail at 2.1 mile
Plan the Perfect Ski Trip to Whiteface

Skiing Whiteface

Getting to Whiteface is easy--it is located about 15 minutes from Lake Placid. I like to get there early, I start by pulling into the unloading zone to drop off skis and poles, I let my kiddos get our here too. Then I head to the convenient parking lot (FREE) to nab a space close to the base (a big benefit of getting up early!). There are shuttles to the satellite lots that are located beyond easy walking distance. Also note: a few of the local hotels offer free ski shuttles too.

Once in the base lodge, there are plenty of spaces to boot up and stash gear. The roomy lodge is warm and inviting. There are lockers for rent, plenty of clean bathrooms and loads of seating. The guests are all pretty tidy and keep the gear off the floor and stowed in lockers or bins.

The base lodge has larger retail store and a cafeteria. It’s all well-staffed and easy to navigate.

Skiers can start the ski day with an uphill climb to the four-seater Face Lift or head up to the top on the Cloudsplitter Gondola. I love a gondola ride, especially at Whiteface (aka Ice Face) where temps can be a challenge. The gondola allows you to warm up without having to sacrifice precious ski time. It’s easy to get in loads of vertical in a day thanks to the speedy gondola.

Once up on the gondola, you’ll be treated to a lookout station at 3676' with viewing platforms. And good news, beginners can enjoy the views without having to ski down. Just take the Cloudsplitter Gondola back down when you are done enjoying the views.

Plan the Perfect Ski Trip to Whiteface

I stopped to take in the Adirondack Mountain views and snap a few selfies. Once you get your fill of the summit, it’s time to ski! I loved the long sweeping runs from top to bottom. 

The Summit Lift takes you up to the very top of Whiteface Summit (another 1,000+ feet of vertical)—and you’ll see the start house for the 1980 men’s downhill race at 4,386.'  This lift is slow, but don’t worry, they offer entertainment. Along the ride, the lift poles are documented with humble brags about Whiteface’s vertical dominance. Poles will call out the inferior height of Vermont’s mountains along the way.

If advanced skiing isn’t your thing, don’t worry, Whiteface has plenty of beginner and intermediate trails too. I love that beginners are sheltered to a side of the mountain—making it safe and fun to learn. Home base for never-ever skiers will be the Bear Den Lodge with easy access to beginner terrain.

Whiteface is also home to many ski racers (there's a nearby ski academy called Northwoods that trains here) and they can come careening down the slopes at tops speeds, fortunately the mountain is laid out to maximize the happiness of all types of skiers. Racers can be more or less contained to certain zones.

With miles and miles of trails, there's plenty of space for everyone to spread out. Take a break at the mid-mountain Legacy Lodge and warm up with some tea and a treat. The newly renovated lodge has terrific views and is my pick for a place to refuel between runs.

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Plan the Perfect Ski Trip to Whiteface

Lessons and Rentals

Whiteface has two Experience Centers located on the ground level of the main Base Lodge and Bear Den Lodge. The shops are in partnership with Rossignol and hold more than 1,200 pairs of skis and 200 Burton snowboards. They also have 150+ pairs of high-performance rental and demo skis. Book your rentals and lessons online -- they do sell out!

Whiteface has TONS of options for lessons and guides. From absolute beginner to private lessons to adventure guides, there is something for everyone. Head to the https://whiteface.com/lessons-programs/ to find out more.

Adaptive skiers and riders also have a place at Whiteface. The adaptive snowsport program at Whiteface is geared towards individuals of all ages with cognitive and physical disabilities that want to participate in outdoor opportunities in snowsports. Get more details here https://whiteface.com/lesson/adaptive/

Lift Tickets

There are a variety of passes available. Locals can opt for the SKI3 season pass at three awesome New York State resorts for $1,069.00. This is a great pick for NY families who will ski a LOT. The SKI3 Full Season Pass is valid for daily access (no blackout dates) to Whiteface, Gore and Belleayre through the 2021/22 ski season.

For visitors, a one-day lift ticket starts around $92 and goes up depending on the day time of year. Discounts are given for kids, seniors and college students.

Looking ahead to next year: consider the Frequent Skier Card where you get a FREE 1-Day Lift Ticket valid at Whiteface, Gore or Belleayre that’s included with your card purchase. 

No matter which pass you want, book ahead of time. 

Plan the Perfect Ski Trip to Whiteface

Where to Stay

The Mirror Lake Inn is an excellent choice for families. The charming inn dates back to 1924 and is about 15 minutes from Whiteface mountain and offers a comfortable and luxurious place to stay. Rooms range from simple setups to spacious suites. The inn has loads to offer like a spa, indoor pool and plenty of cozy spaces to curl up by a fire and read or play a board game.

There are 131 rooms and most have a view of Mirror Lake and the Adirondack Mountains. And the setting couldn't be sweeter. Mirror Lake is just adjacent to the MUCH larger Lake Placid. This tiny little lake has and awesome 2.75 miles pedestrian path that I loved to run. It's a short walk to town for shopping and restaurants.

Mirror LAKE new york

But you might just want to enjoy the facilities and NOT leave. Each room is cozier than the next and they have two restaurants on property, and I loved my meal at The Cottage where I dined on a tasty veggie bean burger and roasted Brussels sprouts. It's very family-friendly while also being upscale and posh. Making it a perfect fit for our ski family.

The Weibrecht family owns and operates the inn. They have deep ties to the ski community and U.S. Skiing Hall of Famer and two-time Olympic Medalist, Andrew Weibrecht can be spotted running special ski excursions for guest. He also stashes his two Olympic medals behind the check in desk. As part of his marketing duties, Andrew helps with the Women's Ski weekend and offers one-of-a-kind ski lessons.

This ski lesson experience can be added to any reservation by contacting Andrew directly at andrew@mirrorlakeinn.com. Trips are priced on a per-hour basis and can be scheduled from 2 to 7 hours in length. This experience is available exclusively to hotel guests.

Find out more here https://mirrorlakeinn.com/

Plan the Perfect Ski Trip to Whiteface

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