When the temperatures fall, the snowmaking guns come out. Of course, in a perfect world, there’s plenty of regular snowfall too across New York State’s myriad ski regions — the state, in fact, has more ski areas than any other state. The mountains may not be as big as the Rockies, and the towns not as chichi as some in Europe or even out West. But New York’s ski scene can, nonetheless, hold its own. With something for everyone — and every level — whether you’re looking for an easy day trip or a long weekend, it’s time to start praying for snow.
Located just 60 minutes north of New York City (Brooklynites, of course, will have to tack on the average time it takes to exit the borough), Thunder Ridge is the region’s best bet for families and kids of all ages. Accessible via Metro-North, Thunder Ridge provides shuttle service to and from the Paterson train station for those venturing to the slopes without a vehicle. The Snowsports School is one of the best deals around — families of four to six people can embark on a private lesson for $450, and there’s also a mommy (or daddy) and me option for $95. A generously-sized slow ski area and plenty of greens make this little mountain an excellent intro to downhill fun for the whole fam.
There’s no lodging at Mount Peter, per se (small inns and bed and breakfasts along with Airbnbs are located a few miles from the base), but it’s an easy day trip from the city — just an hour away in the Hudson Valley — and a nice option for a Saturday or Sunday powder day. Greens and blues make up the majority of runs on the mountain, but a handful of black diamonds will keep the more advanced skiers and riders entertained. Stock up on any last-minute needs like hand warmers or toasty socks at Pete’s Closet at the Base Lodge, and refuel at one of the food trucks, also conveniently located at the base. For a full winter mountain experience, check out the tubing park, which features four speedy lanes and a carpet so you never have to lug the heavy tube up the mountain.
Between Whiteface Summit (4,867 feet) and Little Whiteface (3,676 feet), intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders will find plenty to play with on this 90-trail mountain in the Adirondack Mountains. Whether you’re a glutton for groomed trails or a powder hound, you’ve come to the right place. Whiteface’s snow making capacity (covering 98 percent of the terrain) promises a good ski day no matter what Mother Nature is doing. And if you find yourself missing the city while you’re away (for this is a trip that requires a full weekend away at nearly 300 miles north of Manhattan), you can find comfort in Carnegie Deli grub: Taste NY Café features the iconic deli’s sandwiches, soups, and cheesecake, natch, is back in its second year at Whiteface’s Main Base Lodge.
Another Adirondack Mountain ski resort, Gore is the state’s biggest mountain with 109 trails and 14 lifts. A whopping seven mountain areas link cruisers, steep black diamonds, and glade runs to make up New York’s most expansive ski and snowboard terrain. Enhanced snowmaking — upgraded, high-efficiency tower guns — and a new, larger-capacity beginner lift are just a couple of the mountain’s improvements for the upcoming ski season. Although there are plenty of options for lunch, the tastiest snack is found at the Waffle Cabin near the sundeck in the base area. These handheld real Belgium waffles don’t need the chocolate sauce topping, but your calorie-burning body is inclined to disagree.
The great thing about skiing for a great many fans of the winter sport is what happens after you’ve come down off the mountain. Both lukewarm and avid skiers can get behind a good après scene, and Windham Mountain Club (the rebrand from Windham Mountain was announced in October) delivers. The premier skiing region in the Catskills, Windham Mountain Club provides an elevated experience, thanks to a recently upgraded culinary program and a members’ only club. Cin Cin!, an Italian-focused eatery, is located mid-mountain. And if you choose to sip red wine while you dine and watch the action outside, you may almost feel transported to a far away Alpine village. Keep the good vibes going with an overnight at Wylder Windham. The boutique property opened last year and its on-site restaurant Babblers has been the place to be — and après — ever since.
Back in the day, Hunter Mountain, about a three-hour drive from the city, was a party paradise. Although this has changed to some extent as families have staked their claim on the rugged mountain, it’s still a great ski resort for groups — and still an excellent place to enjoy live music after a day on the mountain (the Main Bar hosts bands during the winter season). As for the mountain itself: Snowboarders will find endless opportunities in the freestyle terrain park, while expert-bound skiers can take their pick from double black diamonds and black diamonds (though there are plenty of blues and greens too). Those who don’t ride or ski can check out the tubing park or hang with DJ Matt, back for the month of January. Catch up with your group at the Coppertree Atrium Bar, a full service bar with canned and draft beers and specialty cocktail menu that’s new this year, and post up at the charming Scribner’s Catskills Lodge.