East Coast

Family Ski Guide: Belleayre Mountain in New York

Lightening Quad and the Discovery Lodge
Overlooking the Lightening Quad and the Discovery Lodge. credit: Catherine Parker

Belleayre Mountain in New York’s Catskills

Nestled in Catskill Park, Belleayre Mountain is about 2.5 hours from New York City. The Catskills were set aside by the New York State Forest Preserve in 1885. Soon after, skiers began hiking up for backcountry skiing adventures.

Due to demand, the State of New York started construction at Belleayre Mountain in the late 1940s. By 1949, the resort opened with five trails, an electrified rope tow and New York’s first chair lift.

Since the beginning, Belleayre Mountain has prioritized infrastructure improvements. It is the only resort in the Catskills that operates a gondola, the Catskill Thunder Gondola. Belleayre boasts 96% snowmaking coverage. It features RFID reloadable lift tickets, replacing the hanging lift tickets of just a few years ago. 

Owned and Operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), a New York State public benefit corporation set up after the 1980 Winter Olympics held in Lake Placid. This is the only state-run ski organization in the U.S. It includes Belleayre Mountain, Whiteface Mountain, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the Olympic Center and Gore Mountain.

What is Liked About Belleayre

  • The staff is super friendly
  • The RFID gates
  • Value Oriented Pricing
  • Family Friendly Vibe

What I Wanted at Belleayre

  • Better Wifi Coverage
Mohican green run under the Lightening Quad lift
Along the Mohican green run under the Lightening Quad lift. credit: Catherine Parker

Belleayre Mountain By the Numbers

Base Elevation: 2,025 ft.

Summit Elevation: 3,429 ft.

Vertical Drop: 1,404 ft.

Skiable Acres: 171

Type of Terrain

Percentage of Runs

Green

17%

Blue

44%

Black

Double Black

24%

14%

Longest Run

2.2 miles

Total Named Runs:

61

Lifts:

8 Total:

1 gondola, 1 high-speed quad, 3 quad chairs, 3 surface lifts

Discovery Way, Belleayre Mountain
Discovery Way, a gentle green run at Belleayre Mountain. credit: Catherine Parker

Belleayre Mountain Details

Since Belleayre Mountain is at a lower elevation, it manufactures its snow. This is the norm for East Coast Ski resorts. During my visit, the surface was a bit icy since the area had not received snow in a few days. Belleayre Mountain covers 96% of its skiable about with snowmaking. The remaining 4% is in the glades.

I adjusted my stance, and it was all good. However, at the end of the day, the popular runs can get mushy and a bit grabby. Overall, we had a good time, and the runs never felt crowded.

At the lifts, I waited only minutes on a Saturday in January. The only rush was predictably for the two lower lifts at 10 a.m. when everyone was suited up and heading up the mountain. Then at 1 p.m. for the lunch rush. Belleayre did an excellent job at dispersing guests across the resort.

The terrain at Belleaye Mountain is terraced with the easier terrain (green) at the base of the mountain. The blue runs were above the green skiing and boarding. The most challenging terrain was at the top of the mountain with a mix of both black and double black runs.

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Belleayre Mountain Green skiing
Next to the Green Runs sign at Belleayre Mountain. credit: Catherine Parker

Green Skiing at Belleayre

Outside of the learning area, Belleayre Mountain offers excellent green skiing. It is in its own area, away from the blue and black runs, located up the mountain. This area offers its own quad lift, The Lightening Quad. It features a conveyor TK to ease the

On the mountain, I found long green runs with varying levels of difficulty, each manageable for beginner skiers. Best of all, I found small runs connecting the runs so I could switch it up.

Belleayre Mountain blue runs. Credit: Jonah Ford

Blue and Black Runs at Belleayre Mountain

My 19-year-old son joined me at Belleayre Mountain. He has been snowboarding since he was in the single digits so he tackled the steeper runs at Belleayre.

He liked he could stay in the upper mountain area and focus on the blue and black runs using the Hawk Quad Lift and the Overlook Quad Lift. During his visit at Belleyare Mountain, he focused on the east side of the mountain.

During his visit, he went over both skier bridges. However, he mentioned that Deer Run could get crowded as it is one of the best ways to get back to the Discovery Lodge.

My snowboarder son said the Catskill Thunder Gondola features only four snowboard slots on the gondola’s exterior. Some snowboarders carried their boards into the cabin.

2023-2024 Lift Tickets

Ages

At the Resort

Advance Online Purchase

20+ Full Day

$104

Weekday from $52

Weekend/Holiday $78

13 to 19 Full Day

$79

Weekday from $40

Weekend/Holiday $59

7 to 12 Full Day

$64

Weekday from $32

Weekend/Holiday $48

Senior 65 to 69

$79

Weekday from $40

Weekend/Holiday $59

Senior 70+

$40

Weekday from $20

Weekend/Holiday $30

6 and Under

$10

Available at the resort only

 

E-ticket pick-up boxes are available at the Discovery Lodge ticket booth, the Rental Center entrance, and the Overlook Lodge’s first two ticketing windows.

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covered conveyor lift at Belleayre Mountain
The covered conveyor lift at Belleayre Mountain. credit: Catherine Parker

Kidscamp at Belleayre Mountain

Belleayre offers ski lessons for kids 4 years old and older. For snowboarding, it starts at 7-years-old. The learning area is fenced off and secluded from the main skiing area at Bellearye Mountain. This is what I like to find at resorts. 

The learning area features three surface lifts of different lengths. They are the Kaatskill Katerpillar with a snow cover, Little Creek and Running Bear.

Parents drop off their students in the learning center for their lesson, and the staff handles the gear. Group lessons are offered on weekends and during holidays. Most group lessons start in the morning. All students are released to their parents for lunch.

Private lessons start at $134 for a one-hour lesson, with 2-hour lesson running at $268. Rental and lift tickets are extra. A one-hour beginner package is $199 with a lower mountain lift ticket and rentals. For a family private lesson, consider the 2-hour option for three to five people for $449.

2023-2024 Ski and Snowboard Lesson Package

Ages

2 Hour Online

4 Hour Online

4 to 6 Rentals Included

$149

Not available

7 to 12 Rentals Included

$144

$204

13+ 2 Hour No Rentals

$99 | $125  Weekends & Holidays

Not available

snack bar at the Discovery Lodge
The snack bar at the Discovery Lodge. credit: Catherine Parker

The Lodges At Belleayre Mountain

The lodge offers lots of space though it will be full on weekends. This resort hosts competitions and a family favorite so parents and even grandparents make a day of it. Like knitting, dominoes and good times with a bar right there. This area overlooks the beginner area so families can see how the kids are doing.

The Discovery Lodge is the main lodge at Belleayre Mountain. It offers rental equipment, a kids’ learning center, dining and a bar. Its indoor area features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Teepee Flats and Papoose Learning Areas. Guests will also find a retail shop in the area.

Outside, I found a large patio with many picnic tables and a couple of fire pits. It’s a stone’s throw from the Catskill Thunder Gondola, so parents can arrange a meeting point. Next to the patio, there is also a food trailer, the Waffle Cabin.

Located mid-mountain, the Overlook Lodge is a favorite with local families and offers season lockers. With Belleayre’s mid-mountain parking lots located close by, season pass holders use this area primarily. It features a small snack bar and is more rustic than the Discovery Lodge.

Located near the Summit, The Sunset Lodge is at the top of the Belleayre Express.  Guests will find a snack bar and restrooms.

Dining at Belleayre Mountain

After skiing with kids for over a decade, I know it’s important to make a plan for lunch. Wifi and cell service were weak at Belleayre, especially in the morning. Before letting the kids out of your sight, set up a time and place to meet.

For lunch, we had chicken sandwiches at the Discovery Lodge. Both were made to order. However, during the mid-day rush, the cafeteria-style snack bar had popular items ready to go, like hamburgers and hotdogs.

I found the food to be a good value and good quality for a ski resort (some resorts can be crazy expensive and not very good). We sat outside on the rear patio where I found lots of tables, even for a Saturday. There were also fire pits, and inside, the bar was hopping but family-friendly (no obnoxious dudes).

The overall atmosphere was laid-back and unpretentious. Everyone was there to have fun and have a great day on the snow.

For those who need a coffee pick-me-up, the Waffle Cabin sells coffee drinks and hot chocolate.

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Skiing at Belleayre Mountain
My 19-year-old son and I had a great day on the mountain. credit: Catherine Parker

Cross Country Skiing at Belleayre Mountain

Belleayre Mountain offers free cross-country ski trails, but these trails are weather-dependent. The cross-country ski area is just off Galli Curci Road, and it offers a parking area just south of the Discovery Lodge parking area.

Know Before You Go

  • Order lift tickets ahead of time to save some money.
  • Pack Extra Gloves if traveling with kids.

Belleayre Mountain is typically open for winter operations from mid-November to mid-April. The lodges are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the lifts run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located at 181 Galli Curci Rd, Highmount, NY.

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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