12 Best New York Ski Resorts for Beginners

by Simon Knott | Updated: July 27th, 2023 |  Best Ski Resorts

The population of the New York metropolitan area and nearby larger cities is immense. Luckily, New York State is well blessed with some fantastic ski resorts to choose from. But which is the best resort for beginners & first-time skiers looking for a fun place to learn.

Our overall pick for the best New York ski resort for beginners is Whiteface Mountain at Lake Placid. It stands out with its beautiful scenery, good amenities, and some great skiing.


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Our Top Picks

12. Buffalo Ski Club

Ski Resort 1

Buffalo Ski Club is nearby to Colden, New York, and is a popular stop for residents of nearby Buffalo.

With over 40 trails, families are sure to have a jam-packed winter vacation full of thrilling slopes and memories that will last a lifetime.

What’s the Skiing like?

The beginner area is just in front of Buffalo Lodge, where you can use the magic carpet and tow to get to the top of the hill. There are two simple runs in the beginner area, Upper and Lower Zoo which will enable you to find your feet.

From there you have the run of the mountain, as there are easy runs from the top of each of the three lifts. You can start off on green and then graduate to more challenging blue runs as your confidence grows.


Learning to Ski

Ski school is inThe Tamarack Lodge and it’s reassuring to know all the instructors are PSIA certified. Beginners can choose from both private and group lessons, which are adapted for different ages and ability levels.

Buffalo doesn’t rent any ski equipment or clothing from the resort however rentals are available from nearby Colden Ski and Board.

Off the Slopes

Families can retreat to the Lodge to enjoy a warm meal and beverage after skiing to their heart’s desire. There is no on-resort accommodation but there is a good selection of affordable inns and lodges locally.

What We Love About Buffalo Ski Club:

  • A simple trail layout is easier for beginners
  • Large acreage with trails spread out
  • Night skiing during the evening

Buffalo Ski Club Stats

Summit Elevation:34290 ft / 1045 metres
Skiable terrain: 225 acres

11. Labrador Mountain

Ski Resort 6

Labrador Mountain is a great destination for Syracuse and New York residents as the resort is halfway between the two. Not surprisingly it gets crowded on the weekends, so it’s best to try for a weekday if possible.

The mountain offers fairly priced packages for ski lessons — for kids and adults. Labrador makes a low-pressure place to learn to ski for the first time and many locals enjoy coming back year after year to create new memories.

What’s the Skiing like?

The skiing takes place across three peaks, Southern, Central, and Northern Peaks, with a double chairlift for the two outer peaks and a triple chair lift for the middle one.

Beginners are best to start off from the Central Peak lift and work their way down on the selection of blue and green runs, which take you to the bottom.

Several of these runs are floodlit for night-time skiing as well.


Learning to Ski

The Labrador Mountain “learn-to-ski/snowboard” package is for kids aged 8+ years and includes the beginner area ski lift, rentals, and a group lesson.

In addition, there are lessons for kids aged 4-12 and group lessons for those aged 8+.

Off the Slopes

For dining, families can head to the Puffinbird restaurant, open for lunch and serving classic takes on American pub fare, as well as craft beers.

What We Love About Labrador Mountain:

  • Dedicated beginner lesson package
  • One ticket for two mountains — Labrador and Song
  • Beautifully groomed trails
  • Most trails are lit up for night skiing

Labrador Mountain Stats

Summit Elevation:1825 ft / 556.26 metres
Skiable terrain: 250 acres

10. Cazenovia

Ski Resort 7

Cazenovia is a private ski area but it opens to the public on the weekends. It’s a hidden gem of a spot and just a short hop from nearby Syracuse and Rome NY.

What’s the Skiing like?

Cazenovia is a smaller resort but all the better for beginners and beginner families.

There is a small Bunny Hill area just beyond the parking lot and from there you can take the chairlift to the top of the hill.

From there you can take the Buckthorn run, which will quickly link with several blue and green runs, which will take you back down the base again. Even though it is only open at the weekends you are unlikely to encounter crowds on the slopes or lift lines, so it’s an ideal environment for beginners.


Learning to Ski

If you’re not a member, you’ll need to arrive at Cazenovia on the weekends when it opens to the public.

Off the Slopes

Brewster Inn Restaurant is a popular spot to stoke up on a cold winter’s day. There is nearby accommodation at Bra Lock Inn, which is Scottish-inspired and sure to delight all guests.

What We Love About Cazenovia:

  • A private ski area means fewer crowds
  • Easy, green runs on one side of the hill
  • Some of the steepest trails in New York State
  • Open to the public on the weekends

Cazenovia Stats

Summit Elevation:955 ft / 291 metres
Skiable terrain: 25 acres

9. Oak Mountain

Ski Resort 4

Oak Mountain is a ski area in New York State that offers great introductory skiing and snowboarding opportunities for beginners. Intermediate and expert skiers may become frustrated with the limited challenges on the mountain.

Also, Oak Mountain has a tubing park for guests! It’s a great bargain for the price and if your family doesn’t plan on staying the full day — you can purchase a 4-hour ticket instead.

What’s the Skiing like?

The beginner area at Oak Mountain is ironically called Bunny Hill and it's located just to the left of the main Lodge and next to the Tubing Park. There is a T-bar and a small lift to take you to the top of Bunny Hill.

The remainder of the runs at Oak Mountain is ideally placed for beginners and they are accessed by Einstein’s Express quad lift. From the top of the mountain, green runs span out to either side on Nova and Sacandaga, where you can take alternative routes on the way down.

The mountain is simply laid out and compact, so it is easy to orientate wherever you find yourself.


Learning to Ski

The lesson packages at Oak Mountain are adaptable so they can fit with the numbers in your group and their ability. If it’s your first time on skis then the First-Timer package is definitely worth a look, as it is designed to negotiate all the details of technique and equipment when you are using them for the first time.

Off the Slopes

Once families are done for the day, they can grab a bite to eat and settle in a nearby lodging accommodation for the evening. There is plenty to choose from ranging from chalets to condos to full homes, some of which are on the shores of nearby Lake Pleasant.

What We Love About Oak Mountain:

  • Ideal runs for beginners
  • Not overly crowded compared to larger parks
  • Private lessons for families available by the hour
  • Ability to ski on a 4-hour day pass

Oak Mountain Stats

Summit Elevation:2400 ft / 731 metres
Skiable terrain: 46 acres

8. Catamount





Catamount Mountain Resort is one of the best mid-sized ski parks on the Eastern coast of the United States and it offers its guests varied terrain with a family-oriented feeling.

What’s the Skiing like?

Just to the left of the Berkshire Lodge, you will find the snow sports learning area, where you can get to grips with the basics of skiing before spreading your wings.

Easier runs can be accessed by the Promenade and Meadows triple-chair lift just to the left of the beginner area.

From there it’s easy to take the Ridge quad to the top of the opposite mountain and traverse down on the Ridge run to the left-hand side of the mountain. There are plenty more difficult blue runs, which will offer a good challenge when you feel like moving on.


Learning to Ski

Catamount has a dedicated first-timer skier package, and as the instructors are all PSIA/AASI trained you can be sure their lessons will be effective.

Kids will love the snow tubing that’s covered with 100% snowmaking, ensuring that it stays open all season. Catamount even offers a season-long program that allows kids to explore the mountain with experienced instructors.

Off the Slopes

For famished families who have been skiing all day, Catamount offers BBQ and Mexican food, as well as a coffee shop to give you that extra burst of energy to take on some night skiing.

What We Love About Catamount:

  • Catamount Zip Tour — longest dual zip line in the USA
  • First Timer lesson package available at a great value
  • The neatly groomed snow tubing hill
  • Night skiing multiple times a week

Catamount Stats

Summit Elevation:2000 ft / 610 metres
Skiable terrain: 133 acres

7. Greek Peak


Founded in 1958, Greek Peak is New York States’ largest ski resort and it’s a popular spot for many people looking to get away from the Metropolitan area. It may not be as expansive as Gore Mountain, but there are still over 50 trails to ride and explore.

Greek Peak may be smaller, but they keep over 200 certified ski instructors on staff to offer lessons and tips to all of the beginners and improvers that visit. There is a strong history behind the children’s program and it’s one that many parents are fond of.

What’s the Skiing like?

Of the 50+ trails at Greek Mountain, there are 20 that are beginner-friendly. Even if this is your first season skiing, there will be plenty of easier opportunities to test the waters before moving on to more challenging runs.

The design of the runs on the mountain is well thought out so that even beginners can take any of the lifts, right to the top of the mountain, and find a green or blue run that will get them back down to the base.

The beginner park on the left-hand side of the base area has a small chairlift and several tows to find your way to the top of the hill.


Learning to Ski

The options for lessons at Greek Peak are varied, ranging from individual private tuition to beginner family groups, and mixed groups. If you are unsure of how to make the best of your tuition time it’s best to speak to the ski school at the resort, where you can explain the make up your skiing group, so you can be advised accordingly.

Greek Peak uses the terrain-based learning program, which is a proven method to help new skiers pick up good habits quicker. The learning terrain is built around shaped snow forms, which help new skiers instinctively carry out maneuvers the correct way.

Off the Slopes

Once the whole family is tired and wants to get out of their heavy ski boots — you can head to one of several dining venues for a bite to eat. Carvers Steakhouse and Trax Pub and Grill are popular and delicious options. Accommodation at Greek Peak is mostly centered around Hope Lake Lodge, which offers a number of hospitality options close by.

What We Love About Greek Peak:

  • Easy terrain to be found at the top of each mountain
  • Children’s care facility with a large playroom
  • Located in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York
  • Rental shop to take care of all your equipment needs

Greek Peak Stats

Summit Elevation:2100 ft / 642
Skiable terrain: 220 acres

6. Gore Mountain

6. gore mountain

When it comes to the most skiable terrain in New York, Gore Mountain holds the title with over 400 skiable acres for guests to explore and enjoy. There are three separate beginner areas at Gore Mountain, so you can easily mix up the terrain if it starts to get a bit samey.

The trails are also more spread out, so crowds are less of an issue compared to some resorts.

Gore is the sister mountain to Whiteface and also has plenty to offer to beginners. Most of the mountain is wooded, so you’ll find the trails mostly have trees on either side.

However, the runs are quite wide so you can always keep a safe distance from the trees. There are still beautiful views to be had and a sense of natural wonder that has been left unspoiled by commercial development.


What’s the Skiing like?

You are spoilt for choice as a beginner at Gore Mountain. Just by Base Lodge, the beginner area has two rope tows and a magic conveyor to take you to the top of the green Bear Cub run where you can build up your confidence.

When you want to try something new ski to the other side of the Lodge, where you’ll find a smaller beginner area, with a T-bar and another green run, Starting Gate.

If you park at North Creek Ski Bowl you will find the third beginner area by the Lodge.

This is where the Village Chair takes you to the top of the village slopes. When it comes to trying a bigger challenge, you can take any of the lifts up Little Gore Mountain or Bear Mountain and you’ll be able to find either a green or a blue run back down to the base.

Learning to Ski

Although Gore Mountain is often perceived more as an intermediate or advanced mountain, there are still plenty of green and blue runs that beginners should be able to handle.

Gore Mountain offers a full range of services for children, as well as skiing lessons to teach them the basics of how to take on the slopes. For novices, Gore Mountain offers a First-Time Ski/Snowboard Package for ages 13+, which aims to familiarise new skiers with the best techniques and how to handle your equipment correctly.

The lessons can be taken for one or two hours, and the price includes a lift ticket, rental equipment, and a helmet. For skiers and snowboarders looking to improve their techniques, there are also private lessons and group lessons for most ages.

Off the Slopes

Once your family is worn out and ready to recharge, you can head towards the lodge to relax for the evening and refuel with a variety of food options. With over 110 trails located on the mountain, it’s likely that everyone will be ready to kick their boots off and rest up for the next day of adventure.

What We Love About Gore Mountain:

  • Dedicated First Time Ski/Snowboard Package
  • Prices are a bit cheaper due to it being government-run
  • Four peaks with seven distinct faces
  • Largest ski resort in the state of New York

Gore Mountain Stats

Summit Elevation:3600 ft / 1097 metres
Skiable terrain: 448 acres

5. Titus Mountain


If you’re looking for a friendly skiing resort in the Adirondacks, look no further than Titus Mountain. Located in Malone, New York, Titus Mountain is only a short drive from the city of Pittsburgh and even from northern Vermont.

Titus is fully geared up to help beginners find their way around the resort. There is a useful First Timer Guide on the website, which gives useful information about what to expect, what to wear etc.

Unlike some of the nearby larger resorts, lift lines at Titus are generally short and the runs don’t get that crowded there except for weekenders. There is also night skiing, which is popular amongst the guests.

What’s the Skiing like?

The beginner area is just in front of the main lodge at the base of the resort. There is a magic carpet and a tow lift to take beginners to the top of the hill. The area is wide and open, so it is a relaxed space to practice on.

When you’re feeling more at home on your skis you then have the complete resort in your scope. Each of the three summits has green runs, which connect and return you back to base. As you improve its straightforward to transfer to blue runs to find more challenging routes.


Learning to Ski

The quality of teaching at Titus is of a high standard and all instructors are trained in current PSIA and AASI techniques. As part of their training, instructors learn to pass on useful tips and practice to newer skiers, which are an invaluable part of learning to ski.

You can be sure you will make good progress as a beginner, and you’ll be kept safe.

The ski center also has a reputation for fairly priced lessons, whether you choose a group lesson, private or semi-private with a few members of your party.

There are three terrain parks at Titus, which even if you don’t feel ready to take part are great places to watch the action and see what’s involved. Some of the features are designed for beginners, so it’s a safe environment to give it a try.

The tubing hill is newly renovated with a new conveyor lift making getting back up to the top of the hill a breeze. There are also more lanes and new double tubes have taken the place of the old ones. This now means youngsters under 42 ins in height can take part so long as they are accompanied by an adult.

Off the Slopes

Families can head back to their cozy, slopeside cabin after a long day on the slopes — and at only $275 a night, they’re quite a deal. They are equipped as a fully fitted home and are suited for parties of four up to 15. This is a unique concept compared to the lodges that are dominant at most other large resorts and gives families the opportunity for more privacy.

What We Love About Titus Mountain:

  • Cabins that guests can ski in and out of
  • Quaint and cozy charm for guests looking to get away from the crowds
  • Green runs are accessible from the top of each hill
  • High-quality skiing lessons with patient instructors

Titus Mountain Stats

Summit Elevation:2025 ft / 617 metres
Skiable terrain: 200 acres

4. Whiteface – Lake Placid

Photo by Marco Metzler at licensed under CC BY 2.0

Whiteface is located close to Lake Placid and has some of the most beautiful scenery around, with the forests of Sentinel Range Wilderness and the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness.

This area is unique as it has hosted the Olympic games not once, but twice! There is a proud history of skiing on these slopes and, whether you’re a beginner or an expert, it’s something guests can fully immerse themselves in on their trip.

What’s the Skiing like?

The beginner slopes at Whiteface have their own dedicated chairlift, which gives a great opportunity to practice getting on and off the lift when there are not too many people around. There are eight shorter green trails in the beginner area over easy but varied terrain and a few tree-lined trails.

When you feel more confident on these beginner trails you can take a short walk across the base area to take the Face Lift, which will take you halfway up the mountain and introduce you to a whole array of green and blue trails, which run down through the forest back to base.

There is plenty of opportunities to change route and direction to ensure new challenges that are achievable.


Learning to Ski

Lessons for beginner kids and youngsters will take place in the Bear Den Learning Center, which is situated right in the middle of the beginner area. Group lessons are broken down into, Cub Camp for ages 4-6 and Junior Adventurer for ages 7-12.

Private lessons are also available and if you are a disabled beginner skier the resort has courses for adaptive training, as well.

Off the Slopes

Whiteface is unusual in that it has its own public bobsleigh track, which you can take a ride on and get up to 55 mph! If that’s a bit too much excitement visit the Olympic Museum, where you can take in the history of the area.

There is also dog sledding available on the lake, which kids are sure to get a kick out of. The village of Lake Placid is only 10 miles away from Whiteface, which has been consistently ranked as one of the best ski towns in the East.

What We Love About Whiteface – Lake Placid:

  • Charming ski village for the classic atmosphere
  • Plenty of easy and accessible green runs for beginners
  • A multitude of restaurants, bars, and bistros for the evening time
  • Enriching history from the Olympics that were hosted in the area

Whiteface – Lake Placid Stats

Summit Elevation:4650 ft / 1417 metres
Skiable terrain: 299 acres

3. Holiday Valley


Holiday Valley has a loyal following and it’s beloved by many skiers who come back year after year. The resort is not far from several major cities, such as Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and even Toronto and Ontario.

What’s the Skiing like?

The beginner area is located next to the Happy Valley Lodge where there are a couple of tows to let you practice on some very gentle green runs. From there you can graduate to 3 more longer lifts which give you plenty of variety of green runs down from the top.

Once you’ve mastered those the Mardi Gras lift will give you access to several more green and blue trails. After a few days when you feel like pushing harder, you can aim for the Spruce Line lift and try some of the higher greens and blues.

The beginner area and certain high-traffic hotspots on the mountain have been designated as slow areas, so all skiers must slow down so that beginners and children don’t feel intimidated.


Learning to Ski

All the instructors at Happy Valley are PSIA and AASI certified, so you can be sure the quality of the lessons is some of the best around. Usefully, Happy Valley offers a dedicated First time Learn to Ski or Ride Package with tips, which is ideal for absolute beginners and those aged 12 and over.

There is also a Cubs and Mountain Adventures Children’s Program for kids aged 4 to 11, as well as adult lessons. Lessons can be organized in groups, private, or semi-private if other members of the family want to join in.

Happy Valley also offers snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, if you’re looking for a change of pace.

Off the Slopes

Located near Tannenbaum Lodge is the Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster — which is a big hit with the children (and their parents!). This is a ride that takes guests through the snowy woods and it’s a unique feature offered by Holiday Valley.

What We Love About Holiday Valley:

  • The Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster ride
  • The runs for beginners are well organized for increasing the challenge
  • The high-powered snowmaking system
  • Tubing park with 20 lanes + the special “Li’l Tubers” area for children under 7

Holiday Valley Stats

Summit Elevation:2250 ft / 686 metres
Skiable terrain: 290 acres

2. Windham Mountain

Windham Mountain
Photo by Sarah Lou at licensed under CC BY 2.0

Windham Mountain is another popular ski destination in the Catskills and it has a wide range of winter-related activities to offer to beginners and beginner families who are looking to up their game. There is a good balance between beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiing trails — depending on the ability.

The resort is only three hours drive from the city of Manhattan and the New York metropolitan area. Winham has a quaint old-fashioned charm that doesn’t exist at some of the newer resorts in the Catskills. What’s more, you can be sure of reliable snow at Windham, as it has a 97% snowmaking capability.

What’s the Skiing like?

For those starting out skiing and snowboarding, there is a dedicated beginner area at the base of the resort, which is serviced by the Whiteway Triple Chair.

When you have built more confidence you can take the chair to the top of the left-hand mountain and use the easy green, Wanderer trail through the trees back to base or the blue, World Cup run, which will connect you with more greens lower down.

In time, more confident beginners will be able to handle the blue run, Wraparound trail from the main summit, which greatly expands the number of downhill options available.


Learning to Ski

It’s very much an old-school atmosphere at Windham Mountain and that means beginners and beginner families are given priority to help them on their skiing journey.

Windham Mountain Kids is one of the premier ski and ride schools in the Catskills for children aged three to twelve. Lessons are graduated by age and ability and for the most part last for a whole day. Lessons can be adapted to some degree and there is provision for groups or private lessons.

Off the Slopes

Once you’ve put up your skis for the day, you can head on over to the main base lodge to enjoy a wide choice of dining selections. There are also condominiums available for guests if you’re looking for on-resort accommodation.

If you are a beginner family you may find Hunter Mountain too crowded, and this is where Windham offers a quieter alternative and yet still offers many of the great amenities and activities for their guests.

What We Love About Windham Mountain:

  • The charming Winwood Inn is only 1 mile from the mountain
  • Windham staff are particularly positive towards beginners and improvers
  • Multiple terrain parks that allow skiers to practice their tricks safely
  • Night skiing available on some of the lower runs

Windham Mountain Stats

Summit Elevation:3100 ft / 945 metres
Skiable terrain: 285 acres

1. Hunter Mountain

Hunter Mountain
Photo by Rym DeCoster at licensed under CC BY 2.0

Hunter Mountain is one of the most popular ski resorts in the Catskills region and for good reason, it boasts of a powerful snowmaking system, which covers every trail in the resort.

There are four separate and distinct mountain faces on Hunter Mountain, which allows guests a wide variety of terrain that spans from beginner-friendly to more advanced trails. That’s one of the main appeals of Hunter Mountain, that it can offer trails to every ability level.

What’s the Skiing like?

Most beginners at Hunter Mountain head down to the Base Lodge and Learning Center, which lie at the foot of several of the easier green runs where beginners can build their confidence.

Unlike a lot of beginner areas, the one at Hunter Mountain is served by three chairlifts, so skiers can additionally practice getting on and off lifts.

It’s then easy to progress across the mountain gradually taking in more difficult blue runs, and it’s even possible to take the Snowlight Express lift to the top of the mountain and then descend via a choice of two blues.


Learning to Ski

All the instructors at Hunter Mountain are fully qualified and experienced in helping complete beginners to find their feet in the snow. There are group lessons, which are ideal if you’re keeping an eye on expenses, and private lessons, which admittedly cost more but do provide better personal tuition, which can really improve your skills.

Off the Slopes

If you need a bit of light relief after a hard day of lessons it’s hard to beat a few rides on the snow tubing lanes to get your sense of humor back. The resort also offers snowmobile and snowshoeing experiences if you’re looking for other adventures in the snow. There is limited shopping on the mountain but there are plenty of dining options ranging from pizza, burgers, BBQ, and even sushi!

What We Love About Hunter Mountain:

  • Less than 3 hours from New York City
  • A good selection of beginner runs and chairlifts to practice on
  • Spa treatments available
  • Top-of-the-line rental equipment available

Hunter Mountain Stats

Summit Elevation:3200 ft / 975.36 metres
Skiable terrain: 320 acres

Why Choose New York for Skiing

There is no shortage of high-quality skiing to be found in the state of New York. Nearly all of these resorts offer lessons from qualified instructors, who are experienced in dealing with first-time skiers. This really takes the pain out of your first few days on snow, where an experienced instructor corrects your mistakes quickly rather than you finding out by trial and error.

Our overall pick for the best New York ski resort for beginners is Whiteface Mountain at Lake Placid. It stands out with its beautiful scenery, great amenities, and some lovely skiing.

How Did We Order This List?

To help rank our top selection of ski resorts for this list we compared the following ranking factors:

👨‍👩‍👦 Ranking Factor📈 Power to affect Rank
Amount of Beginner Trails (Mi) 4x
Amount of Skiing Area (Mi) 3x
Cost of two adult tickets + child ticket1x
How many magic carpet lifts1x

We gave each factor its own weighting depending on how important we feel it is for family fun across all ages. For example, a resort with more beginner trails is higher ranked than a resort with a lower-priced family ticket - with all else being equal. That's because while cost is a factor, it's not a primary one. We may also use our editorial judgment to remove or add resorts that we believe should make the list.

When taking all of this into account, it gives us our awesome list above. We hope it was helpful in planning your next family ski vacation.

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Best Ski Resorts for Families In New York