Buffalo: Plenty Of Snow, Lots Of Fun On It -

Buffalo holds a special place in the history and lore of the Northeast. World-famous Niagara Falls attracts thousands of tourists each year to marvel at the thunderous plunge of water down a drop of 176 feet. The Erie Canal, which opened an easy transportation route for goods to and from America's Heartland, has its western terminus here at Lake Erie. Area residents enjoy the outdoors, including winter sports, which they pursue at a range of resorts within easy drive.

Holiday Valley is one of the largest ski resorts in Western New York State, about an hour south of Buffalo. It offers skiing for all abilities on 56 slopes served by 13 lifts, including two high-speed quads, eight fixed-grip quads, a double and two surface lifts, spread over four mountain faces.

A mother and daughter ride a chairlift at Holiday Valley

Holiday Valley has a vertical of 750 feet, 282 acres/56 slopes of skiable terrain (160 acres/37 slopes lighted for night skiing), and an uphill capacity of 23,850 skiers per hour.

Holiday has five terrain parks and a half pipe, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and tubing in a 10-lane, 900-foot-long park served by two tows.

The full-service resort has three base lodges, dining, retail, ski shop services, overnight lodging and a range of year-round activities. The nearby town of Ellicottville also has dining, lodging and shops.

Several other sizable resorts are within easy striking distance of Buffalo. Greek Peak has a vertical drop of 952 feet, 31 trails, terrain park and tubing park, 10 lifts including a triple, six doubles and three surface lifts, 83 percent snowmaking coverage, and night skiing.

Kissing Bridge is another, and with an enticing name. The area also has eight lifts and 24 trails.

A snowboarder does a one footed wall plant in the terrain park at Peek 'n Peak Ski Resort, New York

Peek'n Peak has 27 trails, three terrain parks and two tubing parks, served by eight chairs, two magic carpets and two tubing lifts. Peek'n Peak operates seven days and nights each week through the ski season, has extensive snowmaking and full-service ski lodge and ski school.

Holimont bills itself as North America's largest private ski area, at least by most measures, with 50 slopes and trails, terrain parks and a half pipe, served by nine lifts including a quad chair, three triples, three doubles and two surface lifts. It's private on the weekends only, however, and opens its slopes to non-members during the week.

A snowboarder does a hand plant in the halfpipe  at Peek 'n Peak Ski Resort, New York

Other ski areas in the region include Brantling Ski & Snowboard Center, Buffalo Ski Club Ski Area (with two chairs and five surface lifts), Byrncliff Resort & Conference Center, Cockaigne Ski Area, Colden Tubing Co. (billed as Western New York's largest downhill tubing park), Denton Hill Ski Area, Frost Ridge, Hunt Hollow (another private area open to the public during the week), and Ski Tamarack.

Those willing to make a longer trek can head east to the Adirondacks, or south to the Poconos of Pennsylvania, where good skiing awaits at many more ski resorts.

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