By Alicia Dziak
It’s wintertime and Allegany State Park (ASP), New York State’s largest state park, is ready to be enjoyed by winter enthusiasts. What better way to enjoy it than to spend a weekend or more winter camping with family or friends?
The park houses hundreds of cabins, many of them winterized. There are also full-service cottages, on both the Red House and Quaker sides, that include full kitchens, as well as bathrooms with showers.
A good way to find the one that best meets your needs is to check out www.reserveamerica.com. There, you can access park maps to find your favorite location, and read details of specific cabins, such as number of rooms and type of heat. Prices range, depending on size and location of cabins, and all this information is provided on the website. (Note that in winter, you must reserve cabins for a minimum of two nights.)
In addition to the cottages and various styles of cabins, one of ASP’s two group camps is available to rent during the winter months. Group Camp 5, located between Quaker Lake and the Quaker rental office, offers accommodations for up to 72 people in 18 electrified cabins. The newly remodeled group camp features a large mess hall equipped with a commercial refrigerator, freezer, hot water heater, sinks, shelves and gas cooking range.
Once you’ve made your reservations, the park is an open canvas of winter activities! Visitors can enjoy snowmobiling on miles of groomed trails or enjoy the scenery by foot, snowshoes or cross-country skis. There are numerous hills of various grades, so bring your sleds and flying saucers, and feel like a kid again!
For the winter sportsmen (and women), ice fishing on the lakes is a popular activity. Even if you don’t fish, taking a stroll around the lake to see the “huts” out on the ice makes for a unique experience. (For more information, visit www.dec.ny.gov.)
The park also offers special events all winter long, perfect for filling the time between meals. Third Saturday Treks are free guided walks to various points of interest throughout the park. As the name implies, these treks are held the third Saturday of every month, and are led by park staff, members of the Allegany State Park Friends Group or Historical Society members. The Jan. 20 trek will explore the wintery Bear Paw trail up at Summit Warming hut area. Hikers are asked to meet at Summit Warming Hut, site 16, at 1 p.m. and to come dressed for the weather. The hike will last approximately two hours. For more information, visit the Allegany State Park Facebook page or contact the Environmental Education/Recreation Department at (716) 354-9101 ext. 236 or AlleganySP@parks.ny.gov.
After the hike, take in some live music in the beautiful lobby of the Red House Administration Building for the park’s “By the Fireside” series. This month’s featured performance is by Nick Kody. Influenced by a wide range of rock, blues and country music, Kody offers a unique and diverse interpretation of the Americana genre through both his recorded work and live performances. Whether solo or backed by the Creek Road Band, Kody’s live shows display hard work, high-caliber musicianship, good friends and great times. The show takes place on Saturday, Jan. 20 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Whether visiting the park for a weekend or over a school break, it’s easy to find just the right balance between relaxation and activity in the park. Plug in the Crockpot before you head outside your cabin for the day and reward yourself with piping hot chili when you return from a hard day of play. Add in some hot cocoa, a card game, and great conversation and winter might just become your new favorite season to spend at ASP!