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.
About Whiteface Mountain
With 4,867 feet (1,483 meters) above sea level, Whiteface Mountains is the fifth-highest peak in New York state. What makes Whiteface Mountain so special is that is very easy to reach the top. In this article, you’ll read all about Whiteface Mountain and how to drive up.
Where is Whiteface Mountain located?
Whiteface Mountain is located between Lake Placid and Wilmington in the Adirondacks Mountains. 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.
Tip! You can also visit Whiteface Mountain by booking this 2-Day Lake George & Lake Placid Tour from New York.
How to get up Whiteface Mountain
Can you drive up Whiteface Mountain? Yes, you can! 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.
How much does it cost to drive up Whiteface Mountain
Unfortunately, you cannot drive up Whiteface Mountain for free. At the start of the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway, there’s a toll booth where you have to pay admission. This is how much it costs to get up Whiteface Mountain:
|Vehicle & driver + Motorcycle||$20|
|6 & under||Free|
These are the prices in 2023 and they may change over the years. Please check the official website for the current prices.
Tip! You can save money if you plan on visiting all of the Lake Placid Legacy Sites. In that case, it’s smart to get a Lake Placid Legacy Sites Summer Passport.
Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway
The Whiteface Mountain road is called the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. This particular highway has an interesting history dating back to the early 20th century. The original plans for the highway were developed in the 1910s when the then-Governor of New York, John Alden Dix, and state engineer J.R. Thomas discussed the idea of constructing a road to the top of Whiteface Mountain to make the area more accessible to tourists and outdoor enthusiasts.
Construction of the highway began in 1929, but progress was slowed down due to the economic impact of the Great Depression. In 1931, the project was revived with financial support from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program that provided employment to the unemployed during the crisis.
The highway was named the “Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway” as a tribute to the veterans of World War I. It was dedicated to those who had sacrificed their lives for their country during the war.
After several years of construction, the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway was completed and officially opened to the public in 1935. It offered visitors an easy and scenic way to travel to the top of Whiteface Mountain and enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
During the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, Whiteface Mountain was used for alpine ski events, further increasing the highway’s and the mountain’s global recognition as a significant location for winter sports.
Since its opening, the highway has undergone periodic maintenance and restoration to ensure its safety and accessibility for visitors. Improvements have also been made to enhance the visitor experience and promote environmentally conscious practices.
Today, the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway remains a popular tourist attraction in the Adirondacks, where visitors can enjoy the natural beauty and panoramic views from the top of Whiteface Mountain. It serves as a reminder of the efforts and sacrifices of war veterans and a tribute to the pristine wilderness of this area in the state of New York.
How to drive up Whiteface Mountain
How do you drive to the top of Whiteface Mountain? What does it look like? Let’s get this Whiteface Mountain drive started!
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.
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 a toll. It’s not cheap, but well worth it in my opinion. As you drive further, the views become more beautiful.
Whiteface Memorial Highway
The Whiteface Memorial Highway is only five miles (eight kilometers) long and you ascend 2,300 feet (700 meters). While you’re driving up Whiteface Mountain, 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
After checking out the viewpoints, it’s time to finally drive 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
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!
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
There is also a weather station at the top of Whiteface Mountain (this is where you arrive when you take the elevator up). In this weather station, there are some information signs so you can learn more about Whiteface Mountain and the surrounding area.
Whiteface Mountain hike
If you like a workout, you can also choose to park your car a little after Santa’s Workshop and hike up Whiteface Mountain. 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.
In addition, you can get this Lake Placid & Saranac Lake Cycling Map | Adirondacks Hiking & Trail Map with all trails around Whiteface Mountain.
Where to stay & other fun activities
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:
- Lake Placid Inn: Main Street – a cozy and small-scale inn right in the center of Lake Placid.
- Town House Lodge – nicely decorated lodge with a pool close to Main Street.
- Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort – a beautiful luxury resort with large rooms overlooking the lake.
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!). You can find more unique accommodations on VRBO. There are many great places to be found in Wilmington, from where you access the Whiteface Memorial Highway
- The ’46er’ chalet – a charming chalet with a hot tub and a fireplace.
- The Tamarack two bedroom chalet – a cozy cabin in the woods with a fireplace.
- Graystone Cottage – charming home in Wilmington with everything you need, including a hot tub.
New York State travel tips
These were my tips for visiting Whiteface Mountain. Would you like to read more about a trip to New York State? These are some great guidebooks:
I myself went on numerous USA road trips, that’s why you can read a lot about traveling in the United States on this website. You might also like to read these blog posts:
- New York State road trip: 6 beautiful sights
- Amazing 2-week Toronto to New York road trip itinerary. An amazing road trip with a lot of variety between beautiful nature (mountains, lakes, and waterfalls) and major world cities (Toronto and New York City).
- The best unknown places to visit in the USA
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This article was published in May 2018. Last update with more tips and information: August 2023.
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