By Alicia Dziak
There’s something magical about hitting the slopes after dark.
Heading down Tannenbaum at Holiday Valley, surrounded by snow-covered pine trees, the snow is lit up before you, beckoning you to ski down its winding and shimmering path. Over at Cindy’s, the wide trail unfolds in front of you, unveiling a spectacular view of the resort after dark. Each trail at Holiday Valley has its own unique features, and traversing them at night feels like you are exploring entirely new trails.
Although certain lifts close after dark (Boardwalk, Eagle, SnowPine and Spruce), skiers can still access a majority of the lifts and, in turn, the trails they service, well after the sun has lowered behind the hills.
There are currently 37 slopes and nine lifts (Chute, Cindy’s, Creekside, Mardi Gras, Morning Star, Ski School Tow, Sunrise, Tannenbaum and Yodeler) open for night skiing at Holiday Valley.
Night skiing is a thing of beauty, and a huge part of the Ellicottville skyline is seeing Holiday Valley’s lights illuminating the sky as you head into town from any direction. While it might be hard for some to imagine this town without the sights of these lights during the winter, there was a time when they weren’t there.
Yodeler and the Ski School trail were the first trails to be lit for night skiing in the 1968-69 season. It ran for three seasons, but didn’t take off, and closed down after the 1970-71 season.
In 1974, Holiday Valley gave it another shot and this time it was successful. After the original two trails were re-lit, other trails followed, one at a time throughout the next two decades, with Sunrise being the most recently lit trail in 1992.
Besides the beauty of it, there are many advantages to skiing at night on the slopes of Holiday Valley.
First, it’s less expensive. A lift ticket from 4–10 p.m. is only $33 for adults and $26 for juniors, offering six hours of skiing for a great price.
Second, night skiing offers more flexibility for those with busy schedules.
“If you work during the day, you can still ski at night,” said Jane Eshbaugh, Holiday Valley’s director of marketing. “Also, if you’re lodging here, the kids can ski at night while parents relax.”
Night skiing also offers a great opportunity for more people to learn to ski and ride, especially through Holiday Valley’s school and adult ski clubs.
“Night skiing creates a lot of new skiers and riders because the night programs include lessons,” explained Eshbaugh.
Hannes Dziak, advisor for Springville Youth Inc.’s Ski Club, said, “Being able to go skiing on Sunday afternoons and into the evenings with our ski club is such a great opportunity for kids that might not otherwise get to ski or ride. The addition of the evening lessons is key, and the lighted trails give members so many more hours of skiing, and definitely more bang for their buck.”
And who can pass up the opportunity to enjoy Holiday Valley’s after-dark ambiance? Sitting around the lodge fire pits, riding up the lifts with friends, skiing down the trails and taking in the contrast between the pitch-black sky and the shimmering white snow are all part of what makes night skiing such a memorable affair.
Holiday Valley offers night skiing (until 10 p.m.) until March 15, after which twilight skiing is available until 7 p.m.
Wherever your nighttime skiing adventure takes you within the resort, Holiday Valley will amaze you at every lighted turn. Hit the slopes after dark before spring hits Ellicottville!