A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.
They say New York is a “state of mind.” That’s certainly true when it comes to skiing and riding. You’ll find more ski areas here than in any other state in the nation (only Michigan is close) and the highest peak east of the Rockies is here. Ski areas come in all sizes and shapes.
There is so much available skiing and snowboard in the Empire State it seems to breed a love for the sport. You’ll hear that unmistakable accent on chairlifts all over the world.
Ski resorts are spread throughout the state, but tend to cluster in five regions: Adirondack Mountains, Catskill Mountains, Central, Hudson Valley and Western. You won’t run out of places to play, but when you are looking for something different, just cross the eastern border into the Green Mountains of Vermont or Laurentians of Eastern Canada or even New Jersey for more.
There's lots to like about New York skiing whether visiting what is essentially a day hill, weekend favorite or a destination like Lake Placid. A great way to round out a ski trip here is to add a day of cross country skiing. There are plenty of family-friendly resorts here as well.
Here’s a bird's eye view of New York skiing and riding with a couple of good choices in each region.
Gore Mountain in North Creek is the largest ski area in the state with a vertical drop of 2,400 feet and more than 423 acres of total skiable terrain to play on. The vibe is old-fashioned friendly. No glitz here, just plenty of skiing.
Whiteface Mountain is just a few miles from Lake Placid and plenty of all kinds of skiing. It’s the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains at 4,386 feet at the summit. The Olympic Authority maintains skating and skiing facilities all over the area, legacies of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games. Both Whiteface and Gore are owned by New York State. You'll also enjoy the cross-country skiing on the former Olympic trails at Mt. Van Hoevenberg.
Others to enjoy in the Adirondacks: Hickory Ski Center in Warrensburg an hour from Albany shouldn’t be passed by; Willard Mountain in Greenwich has a very relaxed setting; Maple Ridge in Rotterdam is an after-school mecca; McCauley Mt. in Old Forge is small, but packed with plenty of runs; Mt. Pisgah is a small area at Saranac Lake; Oak Mt. is a family-welcome small areas in Speculator; Royal Mt. in Johnstown skis and rides in the winter and re-invents itself for motocross and supercross each summer; Titus Mt. spreads itself over three mountains in Malone. Finally, West Mountain, just 11 minutes from Glens Falls, is a mecca for night skiing.
Hunter Mountain in Hunter has been the “go-to” mountain for Manhattan skiers, riders and partiers for years, but its skiing is powered by what arguably has long been the “Snowmaking Capital of the World.” It’s a big, bustling fun ski area now owned by Vail Resorts after years of development by the Slutzky family. Apres ski life is abundant here.
Windham Mountain in Windham is closeby with 284 acres of skiing, 54 trails and 4 terrain parks. It’s perhaps a bit more tame in feel, but still draws heavily from the New York area every weekend. It’s a different pulse beat from Hunter, but the skiing and riding are equal. The ski area is actualy a great destination for snowboarders, with six terrain parks featuring many humps, bumps, or crazy rail to attempt.
Other resorts in the Catskills include Belleayre in HighPoint, the highest skiable peak in the Catskills. The trails offer varied terrain, and it is one of the only resorts offering snowcat skiing. Belleyare also is owned by New York State. Plattekill in Ulster County is a family favorite and is independent and family-owned. A bit of a different vibe here. Holiday Mountain in Montecello is ideal for beginners.
Greek Peak in Cortland is in the Finger Lakes Region and is the largest in the central part of the state. It’s been a staple of good skiing since the early 1950s. Check out the new fractional ownership facility with 101 condos. The Meier family now has total ownership control and are making improvements.
Song Mountain in Tully skis day and night to assure tired legs. There are 5 lifts and a respectable vertical drop of 700 feet. There’s a two-fer deal as season pass holders can ski here or at Snow Ridge.
Other resorts in Central NY include Snow Ridge in Turin where the snow arrives in droves off the Lake Ontario effect; Dry Hill is Watertown’s ski area with about half snowmaking and night skiing. Four Seasons in Fayetteville is a ski and golf resort that’s been around some 70 years. Labrador Mountain in Tuxton offers 20 trails with most lit at night. Little Camillus Ski Hill and Tubing Park is open on weekends when the snow is right. Tiny Skanteles Ski Club in Marietta is safe, affordable and fun. Volunteer run. Woods Valley means 25 acres of skiable terrain a in Westernville.
Catamount Ski Area straddling Hillsdale, N.Y. and S. Egremont, Mass. has 43 trails and a snowboarding park in the Taconic Mountains. It’s a good family area and its “sister” is Berkshire east.
Holiday Mountain in Monticello has 7 slopes, ranging from beginner to advanced in skill levels and is only 90 minutes from N.Y. City.
Other Hudson Valley choices include Mt. Peter in Warwick, a day area offering free beginning lessons for skiers and riders, and Thunder Ridge is in the rolling hills of Patterson with 22 trails and 3 chairs.
Bristol Mountain in Canandaigua offers a 1,200-foot vertical less than an hour from downtown and has been a favorite in this region since the 1960s. There are 38 slopes and trails, including excellent beginners terrain at the top of the mountain. Almost all of the terrain (including cross-country) is under the lights at night.
Kissing Bridge in Glenwood has 38 slopes spread over 70 acres and is an ideal mountain for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Average snowfall here is 180 inches and there’s a full mountain of night skiing, too.
More Western N.Y. skiing is found at Cockaigne which has just made a comeback. A fire destroyed the lodge in 2011 (was the Austria House at the NY World’s Fair and moved here). It’s back, small but fun. Holiday Valley near Ellicottville is a lure for Buffalo/Rochester area skiers with 13 lifts including 3 quads and has a snow tubing hill as well.
The state of New York is home to the most ski areas in the entire United States. What are the best ski resorts in New York when it comes to particular categories?
The vote goes to Gore Mt. for a combo of terrain and laidback style. It's location in the central Adirondacks makes it convenient in terms of driving time. The town of North Creek offers lots of off-slope activities.
Bristol Mountain has it all while still being family-friendly. There are 138 acres of total skiable terrain, including 3 km of trails for Nordic skiing. Check out the views from the summit. There are 39 slopes and trails and there's plenty of variety for every ability level. Some 97 percent of the terrain is lit for night skiing.
Windham has 6 parks and more than 80 features. Look for expert and advanced features which generally include large step downs, large stepups, large tabletops, and advanced boxes and rails.
Mt. Peter, an hour from New York City, offers free beginners lessons. recently added an all-new learning area and carpet lift. The new instructional slope for skiers and snowboarders – called Valley View – complements the ski REA'S Basin Learning Area. It is a stepping stone for beginners who may not be quite ready to take to the main slopes.
Hunter night life can be looked like as an extension of Manhattan at night. You can dance the night away as long as you're ready for skiing and riding when the lifts open for the next day. Don’t skip the Jagerberg Beer Bar at the base of the mountain after skiing.
Tiny Mt. Pisgah in the Catskill Mountains offers skiing for Saranac Lake guests. Small and with a winter fun. It's operated by Saran Village and has some wide open slopes for a small ski resort.
Belleayre in the Catskills fills the intermediate bill and more. Just about half the runs on the mounatain are designated for intermediate skiers.
Whiteface Mountain at Lake Placid with its high vertical and Olympic history. The resort offers plenty of challenging options across mid- and upper-mountain areas. The best of these are narrow, steep, and twisty. Some very long trails require serious endurance, and on a few—most notably Hoyt’s High off the Lookout lift—there’s no easier option to bail to once committed.
Yes, in spades. If you can’t find the ski resort you like in New York, you’re not even looking.
State-owned Gore Mountain in North Creek is the biggest in the state and probably the best.
You’ll find 43 resorts considered destinations, plus several terrific cross country areas.
Go for the Catskills where Hunter, Windham and Belleayre are about a 2.5-hour drive. Closer, but smaller, are Thunder Ridge and Mt. Peter, about 1.5 hours.
There are many family friendly ski resorts. Here are a few:
Whiteface Lake Placid
Holiday Valley is family friendly ski resort, too.
OK, it’s cold here. Sometimes very cold. Cities like Buffalo and Rochester go below 20 degrees F from December through February so don’t bet on the mountains near them being any warmer. Snow is common and most areas of the state will have several big-time snowstorms per season. The northern and western parts of the state will have many storms, especially in the the Catskills and Adirondacks. Average annual snowfall in the state is 25.8 inches.
Because cities like Buffalo and Rochester are close to the Canadian border, they experience some of New York state’s coldest winter temps. They also get large amounts of snowfall, with averages of more than 94 inches annually. The coldest month is January which typically registers 33F. Wintertime days are short with the sun setting around 4:30 p.m. Oh, but it gets longer in the springtime.
There are several towns near ski areas that make your weekend or vacation a fun experience on and off the ski slopes. Lake Placid, the nearby Adirondack town of Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort, was the site of the 1980 and 1932 Winter Olympics. The town is full of quality dining and entertainment options. You can easily spend an afternoon or evening walking down the main drag and soaking up the mountain town atmosphere. Lake Placid also is known for its big views, big scenery, and big history. It's a hub for snowsports and other outdoor pursuits. Ride a toboggan down the 30-foot-high ski jump used in the Olympic games. The Lake Placid Olympic Museum exhibits artifacts including team uniforms and medals. History buffs can check out The Historical Society Depot Museum in the old train station. Lodging options are endless, but a favorite is Mirror Lake Inn, owned by the Weibrecht family (read: Olympic medalist, Andrew).
Tannersville is home of Catskills’ Hunter Mountain, a small village located in the Town of Hunter. Main Street is lined with hundred-year-old buildings painted bright, lively colors sporting eye-catching signs and decorative shutters. The small business district boasts a variety of boutique shops, antique stores, and fantastic restaurants. Enjoy a taste of local flavor at the Catskill Mountain Country Store and Restaurant or indulge in Mexican delights at Pancho Villa’s Mexican Restaurant. Find works from local and regional artists and browse for sustainable gifts at Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Kaaterskill Shoppe on Main Street. If you stay in Tannersville, consider skiing a day at Hunter and another at Windham, just 20 minutes and a totally different vibe away.
After a day of skiing or just taking the day off from skiing at Gore Mt., there are lots of things to do in North Creek. The store to end all shopping belongs to Hudson River Trading Co. offering an eclectic collection of unique merchandise. The store’s rustic theme is mixed with an assortment of men’s and women’s clothing, footwear, books, gifts and much more. North Creek features many of the town’s businesses, cultural centers and trail systems. Go night skiing, head to a chocolate factory, catch a ski flick, eat tapas and have a beer with the locals all in one day? That’s North Creek.
Basically you drive, but there are other options, especially coming in from way out of state. Looking at flying to New York to ski? There are three major airports in New York: LaGuardia Airport, JFK, both a distance from resorts, and Albany International Airport. Best bet is flying into Albany (1.5 hour drive to Gore; 1 hour to Hunter Mountain, Windham). Albany and Burlington, VT Airports are both 2.5 hours from Whiteface. Rent a car at the airport upon arrival. Heading to way north resorts means flying into Rochester or Buffalo and that can be “lots of fun” in mid-winter. The closest skiing to NYC is Plattekill in Roxbury,, just a 1.5 hour drive
Groups can avail themselves to Charter Every Thing, a bus company that services 30 New York ski areas. Individuals can utilize Adirondack Trailways, Pine Hill Trailways, and New York Trailways that offer scheduled bus service throughout New York State. Is the train more to your sense of adventure?
The Saratoga & North Creek Railway Snow Train makes Gore Mountain accessible by railroad, connecting Saratoga Springs with North Creek; the railway operates a complimentary shuttle service between North Creek Station and Gore Mountain’s Base Lodge. Ride the Metro-North Ski Train from New York City’s Grand Central Station to the Patterson, N.Y. stop where you pick up a free shuttle for the one-mile ride to Thunder Ridge. The ski resort offers a “Thunder Ski package,” a discounted combo train and lift ticket.
Sure. The choices for those who live or visit New York State are just about endless. Choose from big, brash Hunter Mt. with its weekend warriors from the Big Apple to calmer, smaller Kissing Bridge way north in the Colden Snowbelt and so many areas in between. Consider yourself a lucky skier or snowboarder if you live here.