Drive up Whiteface Mountain

This is how you drive up Whiteface Mountain (New York State)

Did you know it’s really easy to drive up Whiteface Mountain in New York State? In this article, I’ll tell you how to do it.

Where is Whiteface Mountain located?

Whiteface Mountain is one of the highest peaks in the Adirondacks Mountains in New York State and is located between Lake Placid and Wilmington. It is approximately a two-hour drive from Montreal, Canada, and a five-hour drive from New York City. It’s a great stop if you’re on a road trip in the Northeast of America or Eastern Canada.

One of the best things about it is that you can almost get all the way to the top when you drive up Whiteface Mountain. For the beautiful view from the top, you hardly have to make any effort! Besides driving up Whiteface Mountain, you can also hike to the top of Whiteface Mountain. The top of Whiteface Mountain is only accessible in the summer months, check this website for exact opening times. In this article, I’ll tell you exactly how to get to the top of Whiteface Mountain.

Drive up Whiteface Mountain

Whiteface Memorial Highway
The Whiteface Memorial Highway takes you to the top of Whiteface Mountain.

Start in Wilmington

From the village of Wilmington, take the Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway (designated the 431). Along the way you will pass a special place: Santa’s Workshop. This is a kind of small amusement park, completely in the Christmas spirit. If you want to get into the Christmas spirit (that is also possible in the summer!), Then you should definitely visit this. Check the Santa’s Workshop website in advance to see if it is open.

Toll house

At the next intersection, take the exit to the left and stay on 431. This is the Whiteface Memorial Highway, one of the most beautiful roads in New York State. Soon you will come across a toll booth where you have to pay toll (starting from $ 15, check the official website for the current prices). It’s not cheap, but well worth it in my opinion. As you drive further, the views become more beautiful.

Whiteface Memorial Highway

Whiteface Memorial Highway
From time to time you have to stop to enjoy the beautiful views from the Whiteface Memorial Highway.

The Whiteface Memorial Highway is only five miles (eight kilometers) long and you ascend 2,300 feet (700 meters). While the road meanders up, you come across several viewpoints. Take your time and stop regularly, the view is really beautiful! You can look really far over the Adirondack Mountains and see many mountain lakes, such as the lakes at Lake Placid.

To the top of Whiteface Mountain

There is a large parking lot at the end of the road, where you can park your car. You can get to the top from here in two different ways:

  • with the elevator (unfortunately this does not always work)
  • by a short hike over the rocks
Start of the hike on Whiteface Mountain
This is where the hike starts on Whiteface Mountain.

The walk starts at a cafe (which looks a bit like a castle, so it’s called Castle Café for a reason) at an elevation of 4610 feet (1405 meters) and you have to hike up a bit to get to the top. The path up is beautiful and you really climb over the rocks. It seems scarier than it is, fences are everywhere. Stop every now and then to take pictures, it is very beautiful!

This trail takes you to the top of Whiteface Mountain
This trail takes you to the top of Whiteface Mountain.

At the top of Whiteface Mountain

At the top of Whiteface Mountain
At the top of Whiteface Mountain

You’ve made it to the top! At 4,876 feet (almost 1,500 meters), it is one of the highest mountains in New York State (the 5th highest peak). There are no fences here, so don’t get too close to the edge (the wind is also very strong). You can walk around on the top and you have a view of almost 360 degrees.

With clear weather, you can even see Canada and the US state of Vermont! Unfortunately, we were not that lucky, but it was still beautiful to view the area in this way.

Whiteface Mountain weather station

The weather station at the top of Whiteface Mountain.
The weather station at the top of Whiteface Mountain.

There is also a weather station at the top of Whiteface Mountain (this is where you arrive when you take the elevater up). In this weather station, there are some information signs and so you can learn more about Whiteface Mountain and the surrounding area.

Whiteface Mountain hike

Trail from Whiteface Mountain to Wilmington


If you like a workout, you can also choose to park your car a little after Santa’s Workshop and walk up. It is 9.3 miles (about 15 kilometers) back and forth and you ascend more than 3,600 feet (1,000 meters). A tough climb, but it looks like an amazing trail to me! You can read more about the trail to the Whiteface Mountain summit on this website.

Where to stay?

If you want to visit Whiteface Mountain and other beautiful places in the area, I would recommend staying overnight in Lake Placid. This is a very pleasant village with many restaurants and a good base to discover the Adirondacks. There is also much to see and do in Lake Placid itself, such as the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex. There you can go to the top of the highest ski jump, also from there you have a great view!

Nice places to stay in Lake Placid are:

For more options, prices, and availability of accommodations in Lake Placid, visit Booking.com.

There are also many apartments, log cabins, and other great accommodations (for example sleeping in a treehouse!) In this region, which you can find on Airbnb. Have you never booked through Airbnb? Then use this link to register so that you get a substantial discount on your first booking.

Whiteface Mountain in corona time

Unfortunately, the top of Whiteface Mountain is less accessible in corona time. Only a limited number of cars are allowed on the Whiteface Memorial Highway and a face mask is required. The most recent information and restrictions can be found on this website.

These were my tips for visiting Whiteface Mountain.

Do you want to read more about a trip to New York State?

Order one of these travel guides:

Lonely Planet New York & the Mid-Atlantic’s Best Trips

Moon New York State: Getaway Ideas, Road Trips, Local Spots

Or read one of these articles:

This article first appeared in May 2018. Last update: November 2020.

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Co

Hi! I'm Co and a travel addict. On this website, I'll share stories of my travel adventures and share some travel tips. I'll make sure to keep you inspired for your next trip!

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