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Plan Your Trip > Regional Guides > Complete Guide to Skiing from New York City

Avant Ski's Complete Guide to Skiing from New York City

Though skiing is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of New York, there are more than 50 ski resorts in driving distance from New York City. The further you are willing to drive, the smaller the crowds and the larger the mountains. Don't underestimate New York's vibrant ski culture. Stores in the region have top gear and cost-effective seasonal rental programs for children. 

New Jersey. Though not know for its vertical, NJ makes for an easy day trip. Campgaw is a treat for young learners and their parents. If you can navigate the crowds, Mountain Creek has the most vertical and the most terrain in proximity to NYC. It also has night skiing and a racing program. Fun fact, many seasoned skiers, including our Founder, got started at Mountain Creek. 

Image by Andre Benz

Poconos, PA. The Poconos are ~1.5 - 2 hours away with many ski areas including Blue Mountain, Shawnee, Camelback, Montage, Jack Frost, Big Boulder and Elk Mountain. Our two favorites are Camelback for families and Elk Mountain for more advanced terrain. 

Catskills, NY. During the 2020-21 season, our NYC-based team members found themselves spending more time here because of the New York and Vermont quarantine travel restrictions. Located about 2.5 - 3 hours driving from NYC, the Hunter-Tannersville area is home to four “sizable” resorts with unique character — Belleayre, Windham, Hunter Mountain, and Plattekill. While any of them are doable for a day trip, the area has plenty to keep you well fed and entertained, and we prefer to take a few days and visit several resorts. 

>See our related post: Skiing in New York State and Feeling a World Away 

​Berkshires and Beyond. For a long weekend, the Berkshires stretching across western New England are home to Butternut and Berkshire East. Catamount, located about 2.5 hours driving from NYC on the border with Massachusetts in Hillsdale, NY, is the closest of the Berkshires, and has great learning facilities, steeper areas and terrain parks. The Connecticut ski areas of Ski Sundown, Mohawk, Mt. Southington, and Powder Ridge are also very family friendly.

Southern Vermont & Upstate New York. Four hours driving distance from NYC is where things start to get really good. Choose from Whiteface or Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks of upstate New York, or Stratton, Magic Mountain, Mount Snow, and Bromley in southern Vermont. Going just a little further into Vermont also opens access to Okemo and Killington.


Northern Vermont. If you have the time and are feeling adventurous, the six hour car ride to northern Vermont will take you to some of New England’s finest ski resorts including Sugarbush, Stowe, and Smugglers’ Notch. With steep runs, tight trees, and buckets of lake effect snow these places can even compete with major resorts out west. 

Staying Local.  See our related feature: Jumpstart your Season at Big SNOW American Dream

Mountain Creek

Mountain Creek, NJ


Best for Proximity to NYC with Vertical

Travel Time: ~1.25-1.5 hours from NYC

Overview. It's not hard to find skiers who hate on Mountain Creek. It's crowded, wild, icy, expensive, and filled with human cannonballs, they say. They say all of this because it's all true.


But they are missing a set of immutable facts: Mountain Creek is a huge, modern resort, with high-speed lifts, a dirt-cheap season pass, 1,000 vertical feet, outstanding snowmaking, and proximity to the largest city in America.

A bit of history: Mountain Creek's modern infrastructure is partially a function of a brief ownership by Intrawest. Though Intrawest sold the resort long before morphing into Alterra Mountain Company, the current owners, Snow Operating, continue to invest heavily. Today's resort is the combination of two historic ski areas Vernon Valley and Great Gorge.

Bottom line, understand what Mountain Creek is and where it is, and plan around that. This is not some hidden secret - it's the closest large ski area to the largest city in America. You're going to have to share it. If you have a full day, go to the Catskills. Mountain Creek is best experienced in doses.

Getting To: Drive; Mountain Creek is ~50 miles and ~1 hour from the George Washington Bridge. The most reliable route is NJ-4 west to NJ-208 north to I-287 south to NJ-23 north, then a right on Stockholm Vernon Rd (County Road 515). Then a left on NJ-94 south and the resort is on the left. Parking is on the right. Keep going past the first parking lot and turn right into South Lodge, two miles down the road.


Special Programs: Snow Operating invented the Terrain-Based Learning system, a progressive teaching method that dozens of resorts use.

Special thanks to Stuart Winchester from the The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast for the inside scoop on Mountain Creek. 

  • If you show up at noon on a Saturday, you're gonna have a bad time

  • If you buy a last-minute lift ticket at the window, you're gonna have a bad time

  • If you show up at noon on a Saturday, buy a last-minute lift ticket at the window, and send yourself into the bottomless pit known as the rental center, you're gonna have a really bad time

  • If you show up at noon on a Saturday, buy last-minute lift tickets at the window, rent gear, and do it all with one or more children under the age of 10, you're never going to ski again!

  • Also, the cabriolet, an open-air stand-up gondola, is one of the silliest lifts in America

  • The only ski area within an hour of NYC that has this kind of vertical (1,000 feet+) or this range of terrain

  • Though there is nothing overly steep, the runs are long and interesting, especially before the crowds arrive

  • One of the largest footprints in the Northeast, measuring nearly two miles along highway 94

  • Night skiing is available every day and on all of the terrain. This is one of our favorite ways to visit this resort in the spring

  • Top-notch snowmaking capabilities. Coverage is 100% of the mountain, more than making up for what is probably less than 2 feet of snow annually

  • South Peak is a giant terrain park; every run can translate into endless combinations of jumps and rails


  • When the line at the Cabriolet is long, you can sometimes ski right onto the triple chair beware though, the triple is the slowest lift on the mountain

  • The Vernon Peak parking lot is one of the most congested and ill-conceived on the East Coast. For Vernon Peak, drive another 200 yards and turn right on Sand Hill Road, where the massive parking lot on the left is usually sparse; your walk up to the bridge over highway 94 will also be much shorter

  • South Peak doesn't open until noon on weekdays; get some corduroy on your lunch break if you live nearby

  • When lines are long at South Peak, the Granite Peak chair is often a far-less-congested alternative


Passes: Season passes typically go on sale around Presidents' Day Week and include the rest of the current season and all of the next. If you miss pass sales, get the Triple Play card, a no-blackout, three-day pass that starts at less than $100; Mountain Creek is not part of any megapass. 

Terrain: 46 Trails, Many Terrain Parks, incl. all of South Peak 

Terrain Mix: 30% Green & Blue, 45% Advanced, 25% Expert

Average Snowfall: ~60 inches *(includes snow-making)

Vertical Drop: 1,040 ft

Lifts: 8 total - 1 open air gondola, 2 express quads, 2 quads, 1 triple, 1 doubles, 3 magic carpets

Elk Mountain, PA

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Best for Natural Snowfall

Travel Time: ~3 hours drive from NYC

Overview. Elk Mountain's slogan used to be "It's like skiing in Vermont, without the drive!". That might make some Vermont locals angry, but it's a fair assessment for one of Pennsylvania's best mountains. The mountain is ~3 hours drive from NYC, making it doable for a day trip. Elk doesn't offer on-mountain lodging if you're planning on staying the night, but does list a variety of properties located near the ski area. Elk has a different feel from the established resorts located closer to New York City. Elk is best suited for intermediate to advanced skiers that are looking to push their skills past the hills of the Poconos. With 1,000' of vertical, decent natural snowfall, and steeps- you might just feel like you're skiing in Vermont.

Getting To: Drive, parking is free; Take I-80 W to I-380 N to I-81N. Take Exit 206 from I-81N to PA-374 E. Take PA-374 E to Elk Mountain.


Special Programs: Buy a season pass as early as possible. Elk's season pass rates increase once the season starts.

  • There are plenty of ski areas closer to NYC

  • The mountain is better-suited for intermediate and advanced skiers

  • The are no lodging options at the resort

  • Challenging and fun terrain await you at Elk. You won't find trails like this anywhere else in PA

  • Avoid the crowds. The extra hour's drive from NYC is well worth it to thin out the crowds that you will find at Camelback, Shawnee or Jack Frost

  • Lift tickets are less expensive than other Poconos mountains. Tickets start at $69 for adults on weekends

Elk Mountain

Camelback, PA


Best for Convenience & Family Fun

Travel Time: ~1.5 hours from NYC

Overview. Camelback Mountain is by no means the largest ski resort in the region, but it's plenty to keep you entertained for the day. The resort offers lesson options for skiers and riders of all abilities. The waterpark is also a big draw and Camelback can get busy during peak hours. Enjoy empty slopes on their vast night-skiing terrain.

Camelback features 800' of vertical, 39 trails, and 100% coverage for snowmaking and night-skiing. Advanced skiers will have fun carving despite the short vertical. Beginners and Intermediates are given a variety of routes, including the resort's longest trail 'Nile Mile'.


Camelback is within a day-trip distance of NYC, but guests may want to stay longer. The resort has several lodging options, and an indoor waterpark to keep the kiddos happy after a day on the slopes.

Getting To: Drive, general parking is $10/day; Take I-80 W to PA-715 N (Exit 299), Take PA-715 N to Sullivan Trail to Camelback Rd.


Special Programs: Stop by the local ski/board shops on your way to the mountain. They have more affordable rentals and sometimes even offer discounted lift tickets.

  • Crowds. Camelback is no secret and crowds can clog Camelback's beginner and intermediate terrain

  • Lift tickets are pricey on the weekends. An average lift ticket will cost around $80

  • The natural snowfall at Camelback doesn't compare to resorts further north

  • Camelback is one of the closest ski resorts to NYC at only 1.5 hours away by car (~85 miles)

  • The ski school program at Camelback is suited for any skiing ability

  • High-speed quad chairlifts prevent the lift lines from getting too long

  • Night Skiing here is a fun way to get more turns and add variety to après

  • High-quality snowmaking keeps Camelback in decent shape, even through less than ideal conditions.


Passes: Camelback offers a variety of season pass options; not included on any mega-passes

Terrain: 39 Trails, 3 Terrain Parks 

Terrain Mix: 39% Green, 26% Blue, 35% Black

Average Snowfall: 50 inches

Vertical Drop: 800 ft

Lifts: 14 total - 2 express quads, 3 triples, 5 doubles, 4 conveyors

Hunter Mountain, NY

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Best for Steeper Terrain

Travel Time: ~2.5-3 hours from NYC

Hunter might be the poster child for the statement "If you can ski the East, you can ski anywhere." The mountain features a 1,600-foot vertical drop and offers a wide range of terrain, although the steepest runs, such as Westway and Annapurna — only open after sustained snowfall. Its variable weather patterns and conditions keep you on your toes, but its excellent teaching program can prepare you in spades. 


The Hunter-Tannersville area is an increasingly attractive place to visit, with new cuisine such as Prospect and lodging such as Scribner's Catskill Lodge, opening each season. Hunter is on the Epic Pass, convenient for those in the New York area who also enjoy skiing out West and/or further North. 

Getting To: 2.5- 3 hours from NYC: take I-87 to exit 20 then NY-32A to Hunter Mountain. Parking is free. There are also regular buses for day trips from NYC.


Special Programs: Hunter offers a variety of season long programs as well as racing programs. See more here.

  • Hunter's proximity to NYC means it can be very crowded on the weekends. Lift lines can be long and trails may even feel crowded

  • Grooming is done daily, but the volume of skiers quickly makes that a thing of the past. Frequent rain and sleet can slick up the place

  • Vermont quality runs, but without the Vermont drive

  • The Hunter-Tannersville area is undergoing a renaissance with increasing options for dining, après and off-mountain activities for the whole family

  • With snow-making coverage on 100% of its terrain, you are guaranteed to get your runs in no matter how bad the season. Fun fact, Huner Mountain was the first ski resort in New York State to install snow-making


  • Top Trails. Beginner — Mossy Brook; Intermediate — Belt Parkway; Advanced — Hellgate

  • For the kids. Head over to Scribner's Catskill Lodge to enjoy the ice skating rink, beautiful grounds and fire pit with s'mores to roast

  • Favorite Dining. Prospect for locally sourced cuisine in a spectacular setting 

  • Favorite Après Spot. With hundreds of beers and cheeses, Last Chance Tavern also has live music and the best atmosphere around

  • Where to Stay. For a relaxing, cozy stay, Scribner's Catskill Lodge is directly across the street from the resort. A little further afield with a more boutique feel, consider the Deer Mountain Inn


Passes: Hunter is on the Epic Pass

Rates: Hunter offers unlimited access on the Full Epic Pass and has holiday restrictions on the local pass. It is also part of the Epic Northeast Pass Program View rates here.

Terrain: 67 trails; 4 terrain parks 

Terrain Mix: 25% Novice, 30% Intermediate, 30% Advanced, 15% Expert

Average Snowfall: 100 inches

Vertical Drop: 1,600 ft

Lifts: 13 total - 2 six-packs, 1 high speed quad, 2 quads, 1 triples, 3 doubles, 4 surface (tows/carpets)

Windham, NY

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Best for Family Weekend Getaways

Travel Time: ~3 hours from NYC

Many New Yorkers have learned to ski at Windham, and it's easy to see why: this is a family-friendly resort with good terrain and snowmaking covering 97% of the runs — all a straight shot from various points in the state. The base has been spruced up in recent years and feels pretty spiffy (it also features a couple of cool food trucks parked right off the lifts, always a welcome sight). The layout is easy to navigate and well marked, making it difficult to wander into trouble, especially since the double blacks are all tucked away on the west side of the mountain. Windham is also part of the Ikon Pass, offering 7 days on the full pass and 5 on the base pass.


A quarter mile from the resort, the Windham Mountain Adventure Park offers tubing and age-appropriate snowmobiles where kid can ride on an oval track.

Getting To: Three hours from NYC: take I-87 to exit 21 then NY-23 to Windham Mountain. Parking is free. There are also regular buses for day trips from NYC.


Special Programs: Windham offers an introduction to Alpine touring for $50. The guided session includes Rossignol equipment and an uphill travel ticket. Children and teenagers (until 19) more interested in speed should check out the racing program ($2,299-$2,499).


For great convenience, load your lift card or pass with "Snow Dough" and use it to pay for anything on-mountain.

  • Weekends can be a mad house, though Windham remains more chill than Hunter

  • All trail names start with W so pay close attention to the trail map if you're new to Windham

  • Limited terrain variety

  • More family-friendly than neighboring Hunter

  • Easy access from the southern part of New York state and New Jersey

  • Terrain is easy to navigate and relatively diverse for the resort's size

  • The food trucks at the base are a fun and tasty addition and convenient for outdoor social distancing


  • Top Trails. Beginner — Wonderama; Intermediate — Whistler; Advanced — Wedel

  • For the kids. Good beginner area set off from the main mountain; tubing and kids snowmobiles at Windham Mountain Adventure Park

  • Favorite Dining. Millrock is a local Italian favorite on Windham village's Main St, aka NY-23.

  • Favorite Après Spot. Umbrella bar at the base. Ze Windham Wine Bar, in nearby Windham village, for fine libations and refined small plates

  • Where to Stay. New for the 2022-23 season, The Wylder Windham, 5 minutes away, is fully reimagined, charming and cozy; Winwood Inn & Condo has rooms and condos up to 2BR, with a free shuttle to the slopes (the attached Tavern 23 is a dining favorite)


Passes: Windham offers 5 or 7 days on the Ikon Pass

Rates: Adult season pass: $1,099-$1,999 depending on time of purchase and access; adult Ultra Pass (Windham + Ikon Base): $1,999; View rates here.

Terrain: 54 trails; 6 terrain parks 

Terrain Mix: 20% Novice, 48% Intermediate, 32% Advanced

Average Snowfall: 100 inches

Vertical Drop: 1,600 ft

Lifts: 11 total - 1 six-pack, 2 quads, 2 triples, 1 double, 5 surface (tows/carpets)


Ski Butternut, MA

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Best for Families with Young Children

Travel Time: ~3 hours drive from NYC

Overview. Ski Butternut (also simply known as "Butternut") is a beautiful, smaller ski resort in the heart of the Berkshires. Still privately owned and operated, Butternut has a distinctly "family" feel - their slogan is "Where Families Go to Play in the Snow!" With 22 trails, there's enough variety to satisfy all but those who only want to pound black diamonds all day. In other words, it's a perfect ski area for a family with young kids. "Never-evers," beginners and intermediates will enjoy Butternut's mellow trails. With snow-making on 100% of it's terrain, there's usually plenty of snow. Terrain park enthusiasts will love the Twisted Terrain Park. Butternut is just a 5 minute drive into Great Barrington, MA where you can find plenty of shopping along with inns and Airbnb options. 

Special Programs: Ski Butternut during weekdays for only $25. Uphilling is permitted in select areas at specific times, details here.

Getting To: Almost equidistant from Boston & New York City, set your GPS to "Butternut Basin" and enjoy a beautiful ~2.5-3 hour drive. Parking is free and the walk from your car to the lifts is short.

  • This is not the spot for steeps and challenges, but most people will enjoy Butternut's 1,000' vertical and fun trails

  • As with any smaller ski resorts, there's not as much variety in food offerings as at larger resorts

  • With top-to-bottom snow-making, the trails tend to be in good shape, even when the New England weather does not cooperate

  • Designated easy area for "never-evers," is secluded from faster skiers; parents can relax knowing the kids are safe here

  • Top notch lessons for skiing and snowboarding in both group and private arrangements 

  • Strong tradition of youth racing


  • Top Trails.Beginner — Cruiser; Intermediate — Upper & Lower Applejack; Advanced — Lucifer's Leap

  • For the kids. Make sure to get ice cream at SoCo Creamery to cap off the day

  • Favorite Après Spot. Barrington Brewery for craft beers and pub fare


Passes: Butternut is independent and has it's own season pass. Season pass holders will receive discounted lift tickets at partner resorts including Jay Peak, Smugglers' Notch, Gore, Whiteface, Belleayre and more. See details here.

Terrain: 22 Trails, 2 Terrain Parks 

Terrain Mix: 20% Green, 60% Blue, 20% 

Average Snowfall: 110 inches

Vertical Drop: 1,000 ft

Lifts: 9 total - 3 Quads, 1 Triple, 1 Double, 4 Carpets

Catamount, NY

Catamount Logo.png

Best for Vertical Drop without Lift Lines

Travel Time: ~1.5-2 hours drive from NYC

Overview. Catamount is a solid ski area in the Berkshires and offers some steeper terrain generally more characteristic of Southern Vermont. Located near the New York-Massachusetts state line, it's an easy drive from New York City and its surrounding suburbs, making for a doable day trip. Catamount's beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain is spread out well across the mountain and it has ~1,000' of vertical. Night-skiing is also available.


Catamount is owned by the same family that owns Berkshire East; the new owners have been making significant investments to upgrade the resort, most notably, adding 200 snow guns and a new base lodge.

Special Programs: The Summit Pass pass works at Catamount, Berkshire East and tamer, Bosquet. Indy Pass upgrade available.

Getting To: Depending on your location, you'll take either the NY State Thruway or the Taconic State Parkway with a drive time of ~2.5 hours. Park for free and walk no more than 100 yards. 

  • Catamount may feel a bit intimidating to novices; we prefer other resorts in the area for those just starting out

  • Make sure to secure your lift tickets online, in advance for the best rates

  • This is a real ski area with a full range of terrain suitable for all ability levels, including night skiing!

  • Professional ski school, with many instructors who hold PSIA certification in either skiing or snowboarding 

  • The base lodge is recently renovated

  • Parking is very close, easy to get from car to mountain

  • There are lots of Airbnb options in this section of Berkshires



Passes: The Summit Pass and part of the Indy Pass

Terrain: 22 Named Trails, 2 Terrain Parks 

Terrain Mix: 20% Green, 60% Blue, 20% 

Average Snowfall: 110 inches

Vertical Drop: 1,000 ft

Lifts: 9 total - 3 Quads, 1 Triple, 1 Double, 4 Carpets


Gore Mountain, NY

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Best for Intermediates Looking to Progress

Travel Time: ~4 hours from NYC

Gore Mountain is the biggest resort by acreage in New York state, and easily holds its own in the Northeast. Yet this spot in the Adirondacks remains under the radar and draws about the same crowds as Whiteface (i.e., none on weekdays), and a lot less than its marquee-name neighbors in Vermont. Add a low-key vibe, good terrain, comparatively cheap lift tickets, and you have a hill worthy of affection.


Experts will enjoy the fairly tight glades as well as the 'Rumor and Lies', a pair of steep double-black faces. But at heart Gore, which is spread over seven areas, is paradise for intermediates, with many long, wide cruisers that help build skills and confidence (more advanced skiers will love ripping down those groomers, especially on weekdays when the trails are empty and you can carve big turns).

The hill is fairly easy to navigate and well marked — you aren't likely to end up in tricky spots by mistake — and the return area is wide enough to avoid traffic jams. On chilly days, make a pit stop at the Straight Brook Lodge, off of the Straight Brook chair: It's the old gondola unloading station, converted into a warming shelter with vending machines and bathrooms.

Getting To: Located in North Creek, NY, four hours from NYC and 90 minutes from Albany, Gore is 20 minutes from exit 23 on I-87. There is plenty of free parking (with shuttle buses from the more remote lots to the base lodge) as well as premium for $20/day.


Special Programs: Fun programs for midweek adult skiers include Ladies Escape (Wednesdays) and Secret Society of Skiers (Thursdays). A season-long program for kids 7-12 features four-hour sessions (three hours during Covid) every weekend.


Not only is the SKI3 season pass valid at Gore, Belleayre and Whiteface, but it includes discounts on dining, retail and repairs, as well as one free non-holiday ticket and one half-price non-holiday ticket for friends.

  • Gore has the most skiable terrain in NY state with 428 acres and a vertical drop of 2,537 feet

  • Laidback, no-pretense vibe, with matching reasonable prices for food and rentals, and large areas to boot up, complete with baskets and hooks for bag storage .

  • Easy access off I-87 — in many ways it's easier to get to for most New Yorkers than southern Vermont resorts

  • Weekday crowds are non-existent

  • Beautiful scenery with no commercial developments or lodgings

  • Not very much beginner terrain, though most of the blue runs are relatively easy compared to those in the Rockies

  • Limited on-mountain lodging and food options

  • Gore's local nickname is Chore — there are quite a few flat traverses

  • Check status of on-trail connection to North Creek Ski Bowl before starting off or you'll be marooned on Pipeline's long flat traverse, only to end up back at the Burnt Ridge quad


  • Top Trails. Beginner — Sunway; Intermediate — Twister; Advanced — The Rumor

  • For the kids. You can't beat the Waffle Cabin at the end of the day

  • Favorite Dining. Basil & Wicks, about a mile from the resort

  • Favorite Après Spot. Becks Tavern, a German-style joint, or barVino in North Creek

  • Where to Stay. Several options in nearby North Creek, including some with free shuttles to the slopes; the Super 8 in Warrensburg is a great budget pick


Passes: The SKI3 pass also provides access to Belleayre & Whiteface

Rates: Adult SKI3 season pass pricing varies based on age and access, see rates here.

Terrain: 110 trails; 8 terrain parks including a boarder/skiercross course

Terrain Mix: 10% Novice, 50% Intermediate, 40% Advanced

Average Snowfall: 150 inches

Vertical Drop: 2,537 ft

Lifts: 14 total - 1 gondolas, 6 quads, 3 triples, 4 surface (2 J-bars and 2 carpets)

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