Best ski towns: Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain

Ready to plan Lake Placid skiing with kids? Whiteface Mountain boasts the biggest vertical drop east of the Rockies, it hosted the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, and it has an impressive (or intimidating, depending on your skiing ability) 38% expert runs. But what you might not expect is that Whiteface is also a great place for families with young kids just starting out on the slopes.

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One of my favorite aspects of Whiteface’s Kids Kampus is how separate it is from the rest of the mountain. While it’s easy for parents to take a run over to check up on their little ones, it’s isolated enough that the lift and runs are occupied almost solely by kids enrolled in lessons. That means that the lift is less crowded, and that you don’t have to worry about someone speeding by your child as they’re just learning to traverse the hill. The runs themselves are all green circles, except for an intermediate glade run, but they’re long enough to challenge kids that have moved beyond a magic carpet. To give some perspective, our 5-year-old, who has been skiing for two and a half years, was happy on the same hill as our 3-year-old, who just started earlier this year.

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Kids Kampus is also great for its one-stop shopping. Parents can arrive at the Kids Kampus and buy lift tickets for everyone, reserve lessons and day care, and drop the kids off for their activities. They have a separate parking lot, lodge with cafeteria, and rental shop. To get back to the main mountain, you can either take the Bunny Hutch lift and ski over, or take the shuttle that runs all day between the Kids Kampus lodge and the main lodge.

And kids aren’t the only ones that can learn some new skills at Whiteface. Adult lessons are available from the main lodge and can accommodate all abilities. If someone in your group has never skied before, Whiteface also offers a Parallel from the Start program that includes a lesson, lift ticket, and rental. They also have an adaptive ski program that offers lessons and rental adaptive equipment for kids and adults with disabilities. Basically, whatever your age or ability, there’s something new to learn at Whiteface.

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As for the mountain, of course it’s great! Even on a busy day, the hill doesn’t seem crowded because there are so many parts of the mountain to explore. The Cloudsplitter Gondola is a great place to start, and from there you can move on to the Summit Quad and ski the same hill used for the downhill races in the 1980 Olympics. If you’re really lucky (which I wasn’t, unfortunately), you’ll catch Whiteface on a rare day when The Slides are open. These are a series of chutes accessed by the Summit Quad. Most of the year they’re closed due to insufficient snow or avalanche danger, and even when they’re open there are certain precautions that are required—ski buddies, a beacon, shovel and probe. But if the conditions are right, you could be in for the best runs in the east!

Website info:

Whiteface: http://www.whiteface.com/ (this website is also where you’ll find info on the other Olympic venues, including information on sliding or cross country skiing). Another great planning site is visitadirondacks.com.

Lift Ticket prices:

Prices are listed on the website, and range from $79 for a half day in the Bear’s Den Nursery, to $143 for a full day of Play-N-Ski (two sessions of lessons, with free play and lunch in the nursery). Adult lessons start at $46 for two hours, and the Parallel from the Start program (which includes lift ticket and rental) is $139/day.

Lodging:

Our pick is the Lake Placid Towne Plaza for lodging close to the slopes. Read my full review.

Directions:

From NYC: take the New York State Thruway (I-87) north to Exit 24 (Albany). Take I-87 north (Adirondack Northway) to Exit 30. Pick up Route 9 north and follow it for two miles to Route 73. Continue on Route 73 for 28 Miles to Lake Placid.

From Boston: Take the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) to Albany. Pick up I-787 north to Cohoes. Connect with Route 7 west to I-87 north. Follow I-87 north (Adirondack Northway) to Exit 30. Pick up Route 9 north and follow it for two miles to Route 73. Continue on Route 73 for 28 Miles to Lake Placid.

As I disclose whenever applicable, my family and I skied Whiteface as guests of the resort, for the purpose of reviewing their child and adult lesson packages. All opinions are our own.

About the author

Kate Lepore

AUTHOR: Kate Lepore is Pit Stops for Kids’ east coast editor and a mother of two preschool-aged children. Kate makes her home in Western Massachusetts when not traveling. Find Kate at Google.

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