With more than 50 downhill ski centers, New York has more ski areas than any other state in the nation. It also has the highest vertical drop in the U.S. east of the Mississippi at the 3,430-foot-high Whiteface Mountain overlooking Lake Placid, which has hosted two Winter Olympic games. Plus, continual improvements in snowmaking, teaching and terrains help maintain the Empire State’s ranking among the nation’s most popular downhill destinations.
“With 11 ski resorts set to open this Thanksgiving weekend New York State will have more open ski areas the any state in the eastern United States,” said Scott Brandi, President of Ski Association of New York. “We are off to a fantastic start with significant snowfalls throughout the state and snowmaking in progress. We expect more ski areas to open in the next couple of weeks so check www.iskiny.com for breaking news and information about your favorite NYS ski area. “
It’s not just the ski resorts that keep stepping up their acts. In fact, with indoor waterparks, chocolate factory tours and off-road adventures, you don’t need to be a skier or snowboarder to enjoy winter in New York. Here’s a small sampling of the deals and new developments this winter, both on and off the slopes.
NEWS FROM THE SLOPES
Gore Mountain in North Creek is now greener than ever, especially when it’s covered in snow, thanks to 20 acres of ground-mounted solar panels. This technology offsets 86% of the mountain’s energy use, along with its transition to high-efficiency snowmaking equipment. The ski resort, which has 109 trails and a vertical drop of 2,537 feet, earned the prestigious Golden Eagle Award for Overall Environmental Excellence from SKI Magazine and the National Ski Areas Association. Gore also was voted a Top 10 Mountain in the East for Value, Terrain Variety, Lifts, Scenery and Accessibility in the SKI Magazine 2017 Readers Survey. Another major enhancement this season is a new Nordic/snowshoe center at the North Creek Ski Bowl with snowmaking and night lights for its network of trails.
Deals: Savings of up to 60% are available for advance bookings made online. Kids ages six and under ski free and several properties offer free stays for young children. Plus, Ski and Stay packages and Frequent Skier Cards feature savings of 25 – 50% and first and 6th days free at Gore, Whiteface and Belleayre. www.goremountain.com
Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid has also gone green over the past few years, installing more than 200 low energy, high efficiency snow guns that make significantly more snow in less time, while reducing its carbon footprint. The mountain has been powered with 100% renewable energy since last year and a 2.6 megawatt solar plant installation is underway to further support sustainability. Lake Placid, home to the 1932 and 1980Winter Olympic Games, will be hosting World Cups in bobsled & skeleton, freestyle skiing and luge this winter. Other events include the Stars on Ice skating show and the Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp.
Deals: Whiteface Mountain’s trademark three-day Parallel from the Start learn-to-ski program is priced at $169. The program guarantees skiers will get to the top of the mountain by their third day. www.whiteface.com
Titus Mountain in Malone now has ski-in, ski-out slope-side log cabins. The cabins come in two sizes: smaller cabins sleep six; larger ones sleep 12. A family-friendly mountain, Titus offers a wide variety of terrain, from gentle slopes to all-natural terrain parks. A new mascot, King Titus, will be roaming the mountain this winter along with existing mascots, Titus Teddy and his gal pal Shredding Betty. Plus, the spectator-friendly Empire State Winter Games are returning to Titus Mountain with their Slopestyle and Big Air contests.
Deals: Ski & stay packages feature lift tickets, lodging and discounts on tubing, rentals and lessons. For example, the Red Roof Inn’s two-day, two-night ski & stay package is priced from $175 based on double occupancy. Especially attractive to Canadians, all official Titus Mountain-partner hotels accept Canadian cash at par. www.titusmountain.com
Maple Ski Ridge in Schenectady, a family-oriented ski area, now offers tubing as well as learn-to-ski programs. The mountain also hosts Nordic Night Mondays from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. where the mountain is open to Nordic skiers only.
Deals: There are specials throughout the season such as $10 Tuesdays, when $10 lift tickets are valid from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m., as well as learn to ski/lodging packages. For example, at Mariaville Lake B&B, a $479 two-night package (for two in a shared room) includes two nights lodging, a half-pint of locally made New York State maple syrup, a one-hour ski lesson, a four-hour lift ticket, ski rental and free hot chocolate at Maple Ski Ridge along with a three course breakfast and free use of snowshoes. www.mapleskiridge.com
Willard Mountain is a cozy, family-oriented ski area located just minutes from the Capital District that offers a surprising range of terrains.
Deals: Every Friday, except during Holiday weeks, a lift ticket, lesson and lunch are priced at $45; with rental equipment available for $10. On weekends and holidays, a $49 Learn to Ski or Ride package includes rentals, three 1.5 hour lessons (take one or all three) plus rentals and Learning Center lift access. Advanced programs are priced at $68 for adults, $58 for juniors including an 8-hour, all-area lift ticket, ski or snowboard rental and a 1.5 hour lesson. www.willardmountain.com
Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in Highmount has almost doubled its teaching terrain for beginners. The newly expanded area, just in front of the Discovery Lodge, will have a separate area for lessons. The ski resort, which has 50 trails, parks and glades and a vertical drop of 1,404 feet,is also upgrading its Superchief Lift loading area and lift chairs, widening the Dreamcatcher Glade and expanding its other gladed terrains.
Deals: Frequent Skier Cards feature savings of 25 – 50% and first and 6th days free, valid at Belleayre, Gore and Whiteface.www.Belleayre.com
Plattekill Mountain, three hours from New York City, is adding new snowmaking to its “Buckle Up” intermediate trail and “Cross Over” beginner trail. Plus, enhancements to its current system are designed to enable slopes to recover more quickly from warm spells. The ski area, offering skiing, boarding, snow-tubing and 38 trails including an 1100-foot vertical, has also widened several beginner ski trails to provide more room to turn. The ski area has also enhanced its base lodge with expanded indoor seating areas, seasonal lockers and installed a new timing system on its race trail.
Deals: Plattekill will kick off its discount offerings with a $10 learn to ski or snowboard day on December 17 and 18. On Skier/Rider Appreciation Days — January 6, February 3, and March 3 – the first 50 arrivals can buy lift tickets for $25. Other discounts days include Ski Council Day (January 8) with half-price tickets for club members with ID; College Day (January 22) with half price tickets for students with college ID; and Scout Weekend, Feb 4 -5, when scouts with ID pay half price. www.plattekill.com
Hunter Mountain Resort in Greene County has transformed Drop Off, a black diamond trail on the main face of Hunter Mountain, into a terrain park. Hunter is also bringing back its terrain park in the Hunter One area of the mountain which will cater to newbies with milder features than the Empire State and new Drop Off terrain parks. In addition, Hunter Mountain will be hosting the Trans Am traveling snowboarding event on January 7, featuring a special park build where snowboarders compete for prizes.
With 58 trails, 12 lifts and 1600 feet of vertical, Hunter Mountain has terrain for all skiing and riding abilities including an expansive learning area, fun cruisers for intermediates, and steeps and bumps for experts. Located 2.5 hours from New York City, it offers a convenient “big mountain” experience to the Tri-State area.
Deals: For first time skiers or riders, ages 13 and up, Try-Pak offers three non-holiday visits, including Lower Mountain lift tickets, group lessons and equipment rentals for $119 starting December 26th. Also offered is a Beginner Single-Pak which packages a single Lower Mountain lift ticket, group lesson and equipment rental for $79 and available daily 12/26/15 through 3/20/2016, weather permitting. A Beginner Private Lesson Package combines a one hour private lesson, lower mountain lift ticket and equipment rental for $125. Lift Ticket deals include the 3X Card which offers three anytime Hunter Mountain Lift Tickets for $149 (up to a 38% saving) that must be purchased by November 23rd.Throughout the season, the best rates are for advance purchases booked online. www.huntermtn.com
Holiday Valley in Ellicottville has budgeted $1.2 million for snowmaking expansion, slope improvements and a new skier arrival area with additional parking. While 95% of the area is already is covered by snowmaking, upgrades will allow for quicker startups, higher quality snow, and high energy efficiency. With 58 slopes spread over five mountain faces, the resort offers great variety of terrain including kid-friendly terrain with secret stashes and a hidden fort. There’s also on-site Day Care, a mountain coaster and tubing park, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and kick-sledding as well as slope-side lodging with indoor/outdoor heated pools and hot tubs.
Deals: The season-long “Ultimate Pass,” priced at $155, is valid for weekdays, nights and Sundays. For college students, the $299 Ultimate College Pass offers unlimited night and weekday skiing, and a $199 Ultimate College Night Pass offers unlimited night skiing. For lodging, a “Lake Effect Card” offers a $99 rate at the Slopeside Inn when occupancy is under 90%, 48 hours out. Plus, Inn at Holiday Valley, Tamarack Club and Holiday Valley Rental Properties all offer free lodging and lift tickets for up to two children ages 17 or younger staying with two adults on a midweek, non-Holiday 2017 ski package. And in January, a $30 Learn to Ski or Snowboard package includes a beginner’s lesson, beginner’s area lift ticket and rental equipment. www.holidayvalley.com
Peek’n Peak in Clymer has a new snow groomer, a 2017 PistenBully 400 Park, and is implementing early snowmaking with an eye towards opening its seven-lane tubing arena early. The ski resort has 27 ski slopes and trails, plus border-cross and cross-country trails and four Terrain Parks.
Deals: Thursdays are deal days here this winter; Peek’n Peak’s Throwback Thursday (#TBT) promotion on daily lift tickets offers lift ticket prices at nostalgic rates from the past. Each week, the TBT rate is posted on www.facebook.com/peeknpeak and its other social media.www.pknpk.com
Swain Resort in Swain makes renting ski equipment even more convenient this year; its $129 season-long rental program allows skiers to turn in their equipment at the end of each ski day and pick up a freshly-tuned and waxed set when they return, avoiding the need to transport equipment to and from the slopes. With 33 trails, five lifts and two terrain parks, Swain Resort offers terrain for all abilities and lessons for newbies of all ages.
Deals: Swain’s Twilight Season Pass allows pass holders to ski every night of the season from 3 p.m. to closing for $299. There’s also a discounted Select-a-Night Season Pass that allows pass holders to ski on a particular night of the week all season from 3 p.m. to close. www.swain.com
Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures in Canandaigua will be offering weekend zip-line tours this winter season (reservations required). The ski area caters to all levels of skiers and snowboarders with a 1200-foot vertical rise, two high speed quads and 35 slopes and trails. Snowmaking covers 100% of the terrain and during its night operating season, 96% of trails have lighting. www.bristolmountain.com
Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Cortland has added a 50 x 50 foot jump bag called the Peak Plunge for easy landings from its ski jump. The resort offers 42 downhill trails with progressive terrain, on site lodging and an expansive outdoor deck with a fire pit and fireplace, located just outside Trax, its ski-side pub. The mountain also has an adaptive ski program to help the impaired learn to ski.
Deals: For the first time, Greek Peak is offering a $39 mid-week (Monday to Friday) lift ticket and free skiing on December 23rd with the donation of a non-perishable item to help support a local food pantry. In addition, Ski, Splash and Stay packages, including accommodations for two nights, one day of lift tickets and two days of Cascade Indoor Waterpark access, is priced from $148 per person, midweek; $170 per person on weekends. www.greekpeak.net
Kissing Bridge in Glenwood, located in the snow belt of Western New York, is under new management. Snowmaking has been upgraded to enhance coverage and there is new glade skiing on a marked trail through the central area between Eagle and Twist, with more planned. For beginners, a magic carpet has replaced the rope tow. Other changes this season include a new deck, ticket area and drop off center with seating around a fireplace, allowing drivers to drop off the family, stow equipment in a ski rack and then park the car. Plus, new digital signage in all customer service areas will display prices and the latest Kissing Bridge news and new public Wi-Fi has a single log-in for all lodge areas.
Deals: New this season is the College Night Season Pass, where students with a valid college ID can ski or snowboard every night for the full season for $149. Night skiing is available Monday through Saturday, 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. – 8 p.m., and on the area’s five Late Night Great Nights, until 1 a.m. For early risers, Dawn Patrol tickets, valid from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m., provide access to lifts an hour before official opening on Saturdays and Sundays. Also, on Saturdays and Sundays, skiers are invited to stop by for some quick pointers from an instructor and then sign up for a lesson if interested. www.kbski.com
Catamount in Hillsdale, just two hours north of Manhattan, has relocated the Catamount Terrain Park from in front of the base lodge to the Bobcat trail. Serviced by the Meadows Triple Chair, the Bobcat’s grade is better suited to the park’s freestylers and grooming. The vacated trail has been reverted back to the racing program, which needed the additional steeper terrain.
The Upper and Lower Turnpike trails, a half-mile run, now has terrain features such as the banked turns and rollers that families enjoy on the Sunrise border-cross trail. Other changes include re-rating Ridge Run to a Green/Easier trail which allows novice skiers and riders to experience a two-mile run from the summit covering 1,000 vertical feet. Nestled in a picturesque bowl in the Taconic Mountains, the ski area’s extensive trail network caters to all abilities with 36 trails and park areas, a 1,000-foot vertical descent and a 2.5 mile run, the longest in the Berkshires.
Deals: Midweek non-holidays lift tickets purchased on-line (for Monday through Thursday skiing) are priced at $20 a day, and a mid-week, non-holiday Ski & Stay package priced from $55 per person (two-person minimum) includes lift tickets and lodgings. There’s also a first-timer Learn to Ski or Snowboard package with lessons, rental equipment and a lift ticket for $60 midweek (non-holiday); $80 on Weekends and holidays. Lift tickets are free for skiers taking a private lesson, Monday through Thursday, except holidays. Additionally, on Scout Weekends – December 17- 18, March 4 – 5 and March 11 – 12 – lift tickets are $25 in December and $30 in March with group lessons offered for $10 (Scout groups need to reserve in advance; individuals with proof of Scout affiliation do not need reservations). College students with valid student ID who display they liked Catamount on Facebook qualify for $20 lift tickets during College Weeks: January 3 – 6 and 9 – 13 midweek only. And on Mountain Dew Day, Sunday February 12th, there’s fun for all ages, with lots of prizes. www.catamountski.com
Thunder Ridge in Patterson will be kicking off its six-week Race Team coaching program for competitive skiers aged 8 to 20 ($795) and its six-week Development Race training for 6 to 10 year olds ($598) on January 7. Ski teams compete across the Northeast while competitions with groups from other mountains for the Development Race group, introduced last year, will be offered again this year. The ski area has 22 trails, three chairlifts and four magic carpets. It is located about 20 minutes from Danbury, CT and 60 minutes from New York City, and is accessible via free shuttle from the Metro-North Ski Train. www.thunderridgeski.com
NEW THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO GO:
Via Aquarium, a walk-through aquarium, opened on November 12 at Via|Port Rotterdam, formerly the Rotterdam Square Mall.. The aquarium has more than 1,000 aquatic creatures and exhibits of aquatic life from around the world. There are also touch tanks with stingrays and other creatures, an educational center offering talks and short films and a liquid galaxy, which surrounds visitors with big screen displays that immerse them deep-sea expeditions. www.viaaquarium.com
Wood N’ Wheel in Ulster Park, a hillside tubing park, will offer snow tubing for the first time this winter. Other activities here include bungee trampolines, laser tag, roller skating and rock climbing. www.woodnwheel.com
Swain Slopeside Development is offering ski-in/ski-out lots for residences at Swain Resort. www.swain.com/development.
Platter’s Chocolates, a family-owned business since 1938, has relocated to a new $1.3 million, 24,000 square-foot facility in Niagara County. Its new home in the historic Wurlitzer building in North Tonawanda enables the company to expand its production and offer culinary tours to visitors. Tours, expected to begin in time for the Holiday Season, will allow visitors to witness every step of production as they learn about the history and art of chocolate making. Along the way, visitors can talk with chocolate experts and enjoy samples of Platter’s famous sponge candy. The Factory’s store will be both a chocolate shop and café offering Wi-Fi, beverages and local ice cream and meeting/party space will be available. www.platterschocolates.com
Northeast Off-Road Adventures Skills Class and Trail Riding in Ellenville will be offering guided, full-day, off-road winter driving adventures this year. Adventures start off with instruction where first-timers learn the basic off-road skills required to safely operate a 4 x 4 through rough terrain while advanced drivers learn more advanced techniques such as using winches, hi-lift jacks and traction aid devices.www.nyoffroaddriving.com/