Western New York is the region surrounding the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. It is the home of the Buffalo Bills and the Sabres Hockey team. But WNY is home also to numerous ski areas all within a convenient car ride of between 30-90 minutes.
Toronto, Cleveland, Pittsburg and Rochester are all an easy day trip: three states and two countries -pretty impressive.
OK , so there are no 1ks in Western New York. But there are several different public and semi-private slopes which collectively offer tremendous lift capacity. The greatest vertical is offered at Holiday Valley and its little brother, Holimont is right next-door and only a few feet lower.
Holiday Valley is consistently ranked among the “”best of the East” resorts. What is lacks in vertical rise (750 feet) it makes up in total skiable area, quality grooming and snowmaking. The blossoming ski town of Ellicottville is actually walkable from the main base lodge.
And The Ellicottville Brewing Co. is well regarded for its craft brews and beautifully designed brewery and restaurant setting the place for nightlife in its namesake village.
Peek’n Peak is a smaller but very nicely maintained resort in Chautauqua County. “resort” by my definition means there are overnight accommodations and fine dining as well as a plethora of activities for non-skier as well as downhill enthusiasts
Kissing Bridge and the Buffalo Ski Club are separated by a short distance in the Colden Valley just a half hour from the city! They are both large areas with great variety. It’s just that they stretch out across the ridge rather than reach up toward any lofty heights.
Mention Buffalo and every immediately thinks snow. WNY has a lake effect storm pattern that stretches into February or until Lake Erie freezes over. Cold Westerly winds sweep across the warm waters of several Great Lakes to pick up moisture and dump it on shore much like a conveyor belt. Add to that some of the best snowmaking in the country and one is almost guaranteed fine ski conditions.
Western New York Ski areas have produced at least three Olympians: Eric Sloppy alpine racer who grew up at Kissing Bridge, Matt DePeters master the category of areals within the freestyle discipline while frequenting the Buffalo Ski Club. His fellow teammate, joined the Olympic squad a short time later.
Emery Park, an Erie County facility offers a magic carpet serving a tiny slope that is free of charge to residents and is a fantastic opportunity for teaching and enjoying the young ones. Warm up to the cozy fireplaces at the ski lodge after skiing or snowshoeing through the trails. T- Bar operates from 11:00 AM- 7:00 PM on weekends and holidays, and from 4 PM- 8 PM on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays (weather permitting). Skiing is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
WNY has a litany of ancient but defunct local ski areas. Glennwood although a bit a bit older was absorbed by its youthful upstart but better funded by Kissing Bridge. is now one large 1,000 area facility.
Tamarack was grafted into the semi-private Buffalo Ski Club which doubled in size when it merged with its neighbor, Sitzmarker ski club. The roots of this facility reach back into the early Twentieth Century making the BCS one of the oldest continuously operating ski facilities in the US!: 1935 – present.)
Bluemont a historic hill outside Springville pioneered the detachable chair lift system. It as an interesting history but closed after a number of disastrous events The land has been purchased by a Colorado group, but will likely never reopen.
Cockaigne is a land of plenty in medieval myth, an imaginary place of extreme luxury and ease where physical comforts and pleasures are always immediately at hand and where the harshness of medieval peasant life does not exist. But the ski area in Cherry Creek NY has closed following a fire that destroyed the main lodge on January 25, 2010. There are efforts underway to reopen, but the financially appear overwhelming. Just ten days later, the landmark was destroyed by fire.
Red Jacket is likely gone forever. It as founded in 1935 but like many phases of our society, it was the preadtions of our legal system compounded by cost of insurance that did it in.
Bova (pronounced bov vay’) was situated in the Red House area of Allegheny State Park (least populated county in NY)
Chestnut Ridge Park is the largest county park in the country. It boasted a rope tow for many years, but was removed largely due to the concern for liability. To be frank it was a hazard for the toboggan chutes that ran adjacent. Ironically, these old steel scaffolds have been refurbished by an efficient, effective citizens group that has breaded much needed energy into the rejuvenation of the park..
Grosstal ski area changed its name to Wing Hollow in the 1960’s but then closed totally largely due to a tragic mishap with its chair lift.
Poverty Hill was a short lived area just north of Ellicottville on the highest all the “gum-drop” mountains in the region. It likely was a 1K – over 1,000 feet of vertical rise. A second effort followed as the Concord Ski club reopened the slopes, but unfortunately could not support the financial commitments required. Concord Ski Club carved out a series a trails the outlines of which are still visibly detectable when motoring on the south to Ellicottville.
So what can we conclude from all this? Western New York is a crystal gem in the annuals of skiing. Skiing is a major sport in the region. Western New Yorkers can be found at any ski area in the country, either as permanent “transplants”, seasonal ski professionals and workers, or ardent visitors, skiing and making the most of winter above and beyond their local slopes.
If you can spare the time to visit WNY, you have to taste the variety of the slopes and the enthusiasm of the locals. And look me up at the Buffalo Ski Club, my home “home-base”!
Come. ski with me!