If your idea of winter fun is slip, sliding down a hill on a snowy day, give snow tubing a try. Below are a couple places where you can enjoy tubing down a hill, no lessons or skills required; just be sure to call ahead for hours and conditions.
Polar Wave Snow Tubing, in Batavia, offers six different runs with a variety of terrains, for slow, medium or fast riders. They also have three tube tows, so you don’t have to trudge back up the hill on foot. They also have lights for night time tubing and also have snowmaking equipment if mother nature doesn’t cooperate.
A bit closer to home, Colden Tubing in Glenwood, adjacent to Kissing Bridge Ski resort, is the area’s largest downhill tubing park, and the closest one to the city of Buffalo.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
There are many places in western New York to cross-country ski and snowshoe, including many area parks and nature centers, as well as a few of the region’s downhill ski resorts. Here are a few places that specialize in cross country-skiing and snowshoeing.
Byrncliff Resort in Varysburg, offers 20 KM of groomed trails, including 7 km that are illuminated for night skiing. Rentals are available and they also have snowshoe trails. Overnight accommodations are available and there is a restaurant on premises.
Byrncliff’s 14th annual Cardboard Olympics will take place on Sunday, Feb. 18 starting at noon. This year’s theme will be “Wild, Wild, West.” Participants make sleds out of cardboard, tape and glue to be judged on creativity, construction and best run.
The Genesee County Park and Interpretive Center in East Bethany, offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and skating. They also have a Braille and large print nature trail.
Down in Salamanca, at Allegany State Park, the Art Roscoe Cross-country Ski area is named in honor of Art Roscoe, a park forester who was instrumental in developing Nordic skiing at the park. It offers 35 miles of skiing, with eight loop trails ranging from 1.5 to 6 miles long.
Allegany State Park will offer snowshoe instructions on February 25 at 1:00 p.m. in the Bova ski area parking lot. A naturalist will discuss the various types of snow shoes and demonstrate the technique, to walk in them. Then participants will take a short nature hike in snowshoes. Bring your own if you have them; a limited number will be available to borrow. If there is not enough snow, a nature hike will still take place.
In Canandaigua in the Finger Lakes Region, Bristol Harbour Golf & Resort is a year-round resort that offers golf in the warmer months and cross-country skiing during the winter. The resort has 5 ½ km of cross-country ski trails. Rental of skis, boots and poles available for $10. Call ahead for trail conditions; often they have less snow there than in metro Buffalo. Overnight accommodations are available in their Adirondack-style lodge which has 31 guestrooms. All have balconies and gas fireplaces. Ski and stay packages are available. Bristol Mountain downhill ski resort is nearby.
There are over 8,000 miles of snowmobile trails throughout New York State; many in state parks. It is one of the more popular winter activities in the state. Riders under 18 are required to take a training course. For information on the course or for trail maps, contact snowmobiling, New York State Parks (518-474-0446). Snowmobile rentals for use in Letchworth State Park are available from Wolcott Farms (585-786-3504, www.wolcottfarms.com). For information about snowmobiling in Chautauqua County, where there are 400 miles of trails, contact the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, 1-800-242-4569.
Winter events and Festivals
Here are just a few of our area’s outdoor winter festivals and events.
Canadian-American Sledders annual “Trapper’s Special” dog sled race Feb.10-11 at 9:00 a.m. at Camp Turner in Allegany State Park (Quaker Area). Directions can be found on the website www.canadian-americansledders.com. You don’t have to trek to Alaska or points north to see a dog sled race. A group of dog sledding enthusiasts in western New York and northern Pennsylvania established this club in 1962 to pursue their passion. The club now has about 50 members. “The dog sled race is definitely something the public can come and watch,” commented Steve Aharrah, president of the club.
Mayville ICE Festival February 17 at Lakeside Park in Mayville. This popular event includes all sorts of outdoor activities (weather permitting) including ice slides, ice skating, snow sculptures, snowmobile rides, games, musical entertainment, family activities, fireworks and more. The Mayville Cool Jazz Festival is held in conjunctions with the ICE Festival. See www.mayvilleevents.com for more details.
Penguin Paddle on February 24 from 11-4 at Holiday Valley Ski Resort in Ellicottville. This annual event is a fund raiser for the Bill Lounsbury adaptive Ski Program. Participants slide down the slopes “penguin” style on their bellies. Afterwards, enjoy a huge BBQ and raffle.
Winter Carnival and Mardi Gras Parade, March 10 at Holiday Valley and Downtown Ellicottville. The carnival features a huge parade, music, snow ponies race, cardboard box race, lots of food and more.
Since many of the activities at the locations mentioned in this article are weather dependent, please call ahead before venturing out. Also, keep in mind that while there may not be snow in the metro Buffalo area, there may be snow in other parts of the region.
Polar Wave Snow Tubing (888-727-2794; www.polarwavesnowtubing.com) 3500 Harloff Rd., Batavia.
Colden Tubing (716-592-4228) Located adjacent to Kissing Bridge Ski Resort, 10296 State Rd., Glenwood.
Byrncliff Resort (585-535-7300; www.byrncliff.com) US 20 A. Varysburg.
Genesee County Park and Interpretive Center (585-344-1122; www.co.genesee-ny.us,) 11095 Bethany Center Rd., East Bethany. Open daily 9-5, longer hours in summer. Interpretive center open Sat.-Sun. 12-4.
Art Roscoe cross-country ski area/Allegany State Park (716-354-9121) 2373 ASP Route 1, Salamanca.
Bristol Harbour Golf & Resort (1-800-288-8248, www.bristolharbour.com ) 5410 Seneca Point Rd., Canandaigua.
Holiday Valley (716-699-2345; www.holidayvalley.com) US 219,