A “town with a lake in the mountains” sounds like the ideal destination for vacationers looking for quiet and relaxation in the summer. But think about that in the winter: that’s when sports enthusiasts truly come to play. If you are among them, Lake Placid, a resort town in upstate New York‘s Adirondack Mountains, is the place to be this winter.
So, does Lake Placid freeze over in winter?
The answer is YES! Lake Placid does freeze over in winter, allowing for various winter sports such as toboggan chute riding, ice skating, and more.
Let’s explore a few key features and why you should visit this winter.
Winter Fun Activities Around Lake Placid
From skiing and snowboarding on Whiteface Mountain to ice skating on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval, there are plenty of reasons to visit Lake Placid in the winter. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for a thrill or a nature lover looking for a peaceful escape, Lake Placid has something to offer everyone.
Below are a few activities to look forward to once you get to Lake Placid.
1. Visit Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain is one of the best skiing resorts in the United States. It’s located in the Adirondack Mountains in the state of 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 more advanced riders. Choose a path that suits your riding style, and have fun! The resort also features the best vertical slopes in the Rockies. Take on the 3,430-foot-vertical-drop double black diamond if you’re up for a test of your mettle! So, what are you waiting for? Pack your skis or snowboard and hit the slopes!
2. Go Winter Hiking
It’s no wonder that many people enjoy going on winter hikes in the Adirondacks, given the abundance of trails. You can choose between 90 trails of varying difficulty spread across three mountains (totaling 25 miles). One of the most well-known trails in Lake Placid is the High Falls Gorge. On a brief 30-minute stroll, you may see some of the world’s oldest rocks, natural potholes, and stunning ice formations. Hike around the trails blanketed with sparkling snow and enjoy the peace and quiet Lake Placid has to offer!
3. A Ride on a Toboggan Sled
Many visitors and locals spend their winter days in Lake Placid sliding down the Toboggan Chute on Mirror Lake. Enjoy the thrill of the sprint down to the frozen lake! The admission to the Toboggan Chute gets you as many rides as possible, so remember to bring enough cash and plan on waiting for a while. If you want to participate in this activity, some durable, warm pants are all you need. The Toboggan Chute’s opening season, like those of the other Lake Placid winter attractions, is highly dependent on the prevailing climate. Therefore, verify in advance to avoid any surprises.
4. Ice Skating
Visit Lake Placid in the winter for some traditional ice skating fun on the lake! Yes, because when Mirror Lake freezes over, certain areas are prepared for ice skating. You’ll just need to bring your own skates: skating on Mirror Lake is free! The ice surface, however, may be slightly uneven, presenting difficulties for those not accustomed 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 venues where the games were held, and catch a glimpse of some competitors in action. For a single low price, the Olympic Sites Passport grants access to several venues, including the following:
- The Olympic Center’s scenic Cloudsplitter Gondola, home to the legendary ice surfaces of 1932 and 1980.
- The sky deck of the Whiteface Mountain Olympic Jumping Complex’s 120-meter ski jumping tower (you can take an elevator to the tower).
- Mountain Van Hoevenberg, home to North America’s longest mountain coaster.
6. Take an Olympic Bobsled Ride
If you want to feel that adrenaline rush, get some Lake Placid bobsledding tickets for a thrilling time on Mountain Van Hoevenberg. Do you have the nerve to go down the covered cold track at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour in your bobsled, piloted by a professional driver? This experience lasts only 40 seconds, but it is unforgettable.
7. Stop by the Olympic Museum and Center
Learn more about the legacy of the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid by visiting the Museum and Olympic Center. There, you’ll find several displays, photos, and exhibits commemorating the Winter Olympic Games of 1932 and 1980. One of the coolest pieces of hockey memorabilia is the rink where the underdog U.S. team beat the four-time reigning gold-medal-winning Soviet squad.
What Is Lake Placid’s Geography Like?
Well known as the location of the Winter Olympics of 1932 and 1980, Lake Placid is a tourist destination that embodies the Adirondacks’ rustic, outdoorsy appeal. It’s both a mountain and a lake town, so there are plenty of options for outdoor enthusiasts and active families to get outside and have fun all year.
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 any of these states, you’re in luck.
What Is the Climate Like Around Lake Placid?
Lake Placid has a “warm summer, fully humid continental climate, with snow” (Dfb), according to the Köppen climate classification system. The temperatures range from 4 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and are rarely below –15 or above 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Since 1897, Lake Placid’s highest temperature ever recorded in the summer was 97 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the coldest was an astonishing -39 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. June is the wettest month of the year, and it’s also when to expect most thunderstorms.
What Is Lake Placid’s Average Weather Year Round?
The weather at Lake Placid is pleasant and partly cloudy in the summer and cold, snowy, and overcast in the winter.
From May 23 to September 17, the average highest temperature is over 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.
From December 2 to March 13, the coldest time of year occurs, 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 Ideal Time to Visit Lake Placid?
It’s worth visiting Lake Placid all year round. However, the time of your visit will depend on the activities you plan to participate in. For example, if hiking and other outdoorsy pastimes are on your radar, the period between the end of June and the end of August will be ideal. However, winter is the best time to enjoy the snow and the frozen lake if you prefer skiing and ice skating!
Things You Didn’t Know About Lake Placid
Everyone should know the top four facts about New York’s Lake Placid.
1. The Adirondack Mountains Are Much Larger Than You May Think
Adirondack Park could fit Yosemite, the Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon. To put it another way, Adirondack Park is one of the U.S.’s largest protected natural areas.
2. A Place to Enjoy the Fall Foliage
In terms of fall foliage, Lake Placid exceeds both Maine and Vermont. The nearby Adirondacks are roughly two-thirds forested and have one of the longest fall beauty seasons in the country. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s Fall Foliage train excursion is a delightful way to experience the fall foliage. Tourists may also choose to embark on a trek. Although mid-October is typically the best time to enjoy the fall leaves, travelers should check the weather to determine the best time.
3. The Well-Known Toboggan Run Is Green
The Toboggan chute was recently refurbished, but only some know that it originally was a 30-foot tall ski jump trestle! The Toboggan chute sends toboggans 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 the winter because of all that shiny white snow! Set aside all the adventurous skiers and riders — Whiteface Mountain has the greatest vertical drop in the eastern United States, after all — an increasing number of visitors are flocking to the Adirondacks every winter to partake in the region’s many wintertime outdoor activities, such as snowshoeing, back country skiing, ice fishing, and pond hockey. All while dazzled by the region’s hypnotic vistas!
Lake Placid, New York, is fantastic in the winter, no matter what you do. It looks like something out of a winter fantasy. Mirror Lake’s surface temperature typically drops below freezing in the late fall and remains frozen until the spring. The thickness of the ice varies depending on weather conditions and can range from a few inches to several feet. But before venturing out and ice skating, it’s always important to check with local authorities or ice experts about the lake’s conditions. Then, visit Lake Placid and enjoy all the above!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Christopher Looney
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