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A “city with a lake in the mountains” sounds like the ideal destination for holidaymakers looking for peace and relaxation in summer. But think about it in winter: That’s when sports enthusiasts really get their money’s worth. If you’re one of them, Lake Placid, a resort town in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, is the place to be this winter.
So does Lake Placid freeze over in the winter?
The answer is yes! Lake Placid freezes over in the winter, allowing for a variety of winter sports such as sledding, ice skating, and more.
Let’s explore a few key features and why you should visit this winter.
Fun winter activities around Lake Placid
From skiing and snowboarding on Whiteface Mountain to ice skating on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval, there are many reasons to visit Lake Placid in the winter. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for thrills or a nature lover looking for a peaceful escape, Lake Placid has something for everyone.
Below are some activities to look forward to once you arrive in Lake Placid.
1. Visit Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain is one of the premier ski resorts in the United States. It is located in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York and offers a variety of winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing. There are slopes suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels, as well as a terrain park for advanced skiers. Choose a trail that suits your driving style and have fun! The resort also offers the best vertical runs in the Rockies. Take on the 3,430ft vertically falling double black diamond if you’re ready to put your skills to the test! So what are you waiting for? Pack your skis or snowboard and hit the slopes!
2. Go winter hiking
It’s no wonder many people in the Adirondacks enjoy winter hiking, given the abundance of hiking trails. You can choose between 90 trails with different levels of difficulty spread over three mountains (40 km in total). One of the most famous hiking trails in Lake Placid is the High Falls Gorge. With a short 30 minute walk you can see some of the oldest rocks in the world, natural potholes and stunning ice formations. Hike the snowy trails and enjoy the peace and quiet that Lake Placid has to offer!
3. A ride on a toboggan
Many visitors and locals spend their winter days in Lake Placid sliding down the Toboggan Chute at Mirror Lake. Enjoy the thrill of sprinting down to the frozen lake! Entry into the Toboggan Chute will get you as many rides as possible, so remember to bring enough cash and wait a while. If you want to take part in this activity, all you need is a pair of durable, warm pants. The opening season of the Toboggan Chute, like that of the other winter attractions at Lake Placid, is highly dependent on the prevailing climate. So check in advance to avoid surprises.
4. Ice skating
Visit Lake Placid in the winter and experience traditional ice skating fun on the lake! Yes, because when the mirror lake freezes over, certain areas will be prepared for ice skating. All you have to do is bring your own skates: skating on the mirror lake is free! However, the ice surface can be slightly uneven, which creates difficulties for those who are not used to skating. If you feel more comfortable skating at the Olympic Oval, you can do that too, but it will cost you.
5. Visit the Olympic venues
The Olympic spirit is still very much alive in Lake Placid. Discover the history of the Winter Olympics, explore the Games venues and get a glimpse of some participants in action. For one low price, the Olympic Sites Passport grants access to multiple venues, including the following:
- The Olympic Center’s scenic Cloudsplitter Gondola, home of the legendary ice rinks of 1932 and 1980.
- The Sky Deck of the 120 meter high ski jumping tower at Whiteface Mountain Olympic Jumping Complex (you can take an elevator to the tower).
- Mountain Van Hoevenberg, home of North America’s longest mountain coaster.
6. Go on an Olympic bobsleigh ride
If you want to feel that adrenaline rush, grab tickets to a bobsleigh ride in Lake Placid for a thrilling time on Mountain Van Hoevenberg. Do you have the nerve to drive your bobsleigh down the covered cold slope at speeds of up to 85 kilometers per hour, steered by a professional driver? This experience only lasts 40 seconds but is unforgettable.
7. Visit the Olympic Museum and Center
Learn about the legacy of the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games by visiting the Museum and Olympic Center. There you will find several displays, photos and exhibits commemorating the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. One of the coolest ice hockey memorabilia is the rink where the losing US team defeated the four-time reigning gold medalist Soviet squad.
What is the geography of Lake Placid?
Known for hosting the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is a tourist destination that embodies the rustic charm of the outdoor Adirondacks. It’s both a mountain and lake town, so there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and active families to get outside and have fun year-round.
Lake Placid is two hours and fifteen minutes from Montreal, two hours and thirty minutes from Albany, and five hours and fifteen minutes from New York City. So if you live in one of these states, you’re in luck.
What is the climate like around Lake Placid?
Lake Placid has a “warm summer climate, fully humid continental climate with snow” (Dfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system. Temperatures range from 4 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and rarely drop below –15 or above 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Since 1897, the highest summer temperature recorded in Lake Placid has been 97 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest winter has been a staggering -39 degrees Fahrenheit. June is the wettest month of the year, and it’s also when most thunderstorms are expected.
What is the average weather in Lake Placid all year round?
The weather in Lake Placid is comfortable and partly cloudy in the summer and cold, snowy, and overcast in the winter.
From May 23rd to September 17th the average high temperature is above 64 degrees Fahrenheit making this the warm season. The hottest month in Lake Placid is July, with average highs of 74 degrees Fahrenheit and lows of 53 degrees Fahrenheit.
December 2 through March 13 is the coldest time of the year, with daily highs averaging below 33 degrees Fahrenheit. January is the coldest month in Lake Placid, with an average temperature of 6 degrees Fahrenheit and a high of 24 degrees Fahrenheit.
When is the best time to visit Lake Placid?
Lake Placid is worth visiting year-round. However, the time of your visit depends on the activities you wish to participate in. For example, if hiking and other outdoor activities are on your radar, late June through late August would be ideal. However, winter is the best time to enjoy the snow and frozen lake if you prefer skiing and ice skating!
Things You Didn’t Know About Lake Placid
Everyone should know the four most important facts about Lake Placid in New York.
1. The Adirondack Mountains are a lot bigger than you might think
Adirondack Park could include Yosemite, the Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. In other words, Adirondack Park is one of the largest protected areas in the United States.
2. A place to enjoy the fall foliage
In terms of fall foliage, Lake Placid surpasses both Maine and Vermont. The nearby Adirondacks are roughly two-thirds forested and have one of the longest fall seasons in the country. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad Fall Foliage Train Excursion is a delightful way to experience the fall foliage. Tourists can also opt for a hike. Although mid-October is usually the best time to enjoy the fall foliage, travelers should check the weather to determine the best time.
3. The famous toboggan run is green
The toboggan slide has recently been refurbished, but few know that it was originally a 30ft ski jump! The Toboggan chute sends sleds down ice-covered chutes onto a beautiful frozen Mirror Lake. Depending on weather conditions, they can go nearly 1,000 feet after hitting the frozen lake surface.
4. Historically, Lake Placid is the first winter resort
Lake Placid is wonderful in winter because of the brilliant white snow! Aside from all the adventurous skiers and drivers—Whiteface Mountain has, after all, the highest vertical drop in the eastern United States—an increasing number of visitors flock to the Adirondacks each winter to take part in the region’s many winter outdoor activities such as snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, ice fishing and pond hockey. While being dazzled by the hypnotic views of the region!
Lake Placid, New York is amazing in the winter no matter what you do. It looks like something out of a winter fantasy. Mirror Lake’s surface temperature typically falls below freezing in late fall and remains frozen into spring. The thickness of the ice varies with weather conditions and can range from a few centimeters to several feet. But before setting out to ice skate, it’s always important to check with local authorities or ice experts about the lake’s conditions. Then visit Lake Placid and enjoy all of the above!
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