Holiday Valley is one of New York’s premiere ski resorts and is located a scant 55 miles south of Buffalo. This charming resort covers 1400 acres in total, with 290 acres of inbounds skiable turf. 58 named trails run all over the mountain, with 3 high-speed quads, 8 standard quads and 2 surface lifts ferrying 23,850 skiers per hour around the slopes. Holiday Valley has a fun little vertical of 750 feet with base elevation at 1500 feet. The resort gets about 180-inches of snow per year, but during the lean days, 611 snow guns cover 95 percent of the resort to ensure that your favorite run is never closed. For those so inclined, Holiday Valley offers night skiing on 37 ski trails.
About the Trails
Depending on your skill level, you’re going to travel very different paths at Holiday. Novices will find that almost all of the green runs are wide and very forgiving. The best part is that most of the beginner trails run next to more advanced trails so friends of varying ski ability can take the same lifts together. One huge thing to remember is that novices should avoid the Bear Cub run. Bear Cub itself is a great novice run, but it lets out at The Wall. The Wall is an expert rated steep and can prove extremely daunting if you aren’t expecting it. If you happen to find yourself there, hug the right side for the short trip down)
That being said, if you’re up to the challenge, The Wall is a great run in the mornings or after a good snow. The Wall is a steep that has an almost 40-degree pitch, providing for one heck of a quick way down the mountain. It follows the fall line under the Snowpine Quad. Be warned: because this is the east coast, the base is more often ice than not. In the afternoons, new surface snow is scraped away leaving the ice, which isn’t a fun way to slide down The Wall. The best way to gauge the terrain before you’re already on it is to take the quad up. If you see skiers below, you’re good. If not, take Maple Leaf, a nice tree lined short steep that leads to the Snoozer. If the Wall is closed, head to The Birds. The Falcon, Eagle, and Hoot Owl are all challenging chutes that have enough bumps and rollers to keep you on your toes.
One of the best kept secrets about Holiday Valley is the hidden glades. They aren’t invisible, but they aren’t marked on the trail map, so most people don’t know about them. But if they’re on the mountain, you can ski them. Ski patrol doesn’t officially condone this, but they accept it. Just be careful; like any off-piste adventures, you’re on your own. Start with the glade between Maple Leaf and Cindy’s Run, and then hit the area between Fiddler’s Elbow and Moonshadow. Keep exploring, and you’re going to find all manner of fun to explore.
One last note for the adventurous. When there’s a good snow, head to Frostline, located near the base of the Eagle Quad. It’s an oft-overlooked trail that runs between Day’s End and Snowbird, and you can often find deep powder here. It’s not often, but it’s worth checking out, especially if you ever get nostalgic for west coast-style skiing.
When it comes to après ski, Holiday Valley has it in droves. Whether you want to go shopping in Ellicottville, pamper yourself at a day spa, or find something delicious to eat, Holiday Valley has you covered. Ellicottville manages to find a perfect balance between commercial accessibility and old world charm. Whether you’re stopping in for a bite to eat at Cadillac Jacks or getting a facial at Earth Worn, the locals will always make you feel like you’re one of the family.
Some highlights you’ll want to stop in at include the following. If you’re in the mood for beer, Ellicottville Brewing Company is a great microbrewery. Tips Up and Gin Mill both offer awesome comfort food, and the Gin Mill has live music on weekends. If you want to shake your feet, Balloons on Monroe has live music and dancing every weekend and daily drink and menu specials.
Holiday Valley has always been one of the top rated ski resorts in the East by most skiing magazines. If this is due to the fiercely loyal locals, combined with the day and weekend skiers that flock in from as far away as Buffalo, is up to interpretation. Regardless, Holiday Valley continues to be a great ski area that when combined with the nearby resort of Holimont makes this well worth spending a week at.