Mountain Coaster
Re-opens May 23

By Alicia Dziak

Adventure seekers rejoice! Sky High is opening its “doors” for the season on Friday, May 2, which translates into endless outdoor fun for all!

Sky High, located near Holiday Valley’s Tannenbaum Lodge, is made up of three sections— the Aerial Park, the Climbing Forest and the Mountain Coaster. Each section requires a separate entrance fee, although some packages are available that include multiple sections.

Sky High Aerial Park is comprised of platforms and bridges, built in a four-acre section of the woods, challenging visitors to move one from platform to the next, combining strategy and balance. Various degrees of difficulty range from easier, yellow-marked courses, to difficult, black diamond courses, including the all-new “Black Widow” course.

“We have installed a new single black diamond course called Black Widow. It has 17 very challenging elements and a very unique ending,” said Brian Halloran, manager at Sky High.

Other improvements have been made as well. “We have installed a new briefing area to help expedite our guests to the park and we have also installed a zip-line practice area where our guests can practice using the equipment before they reach the park,” Halloran explained. “We have installed new endings to our blue courses, Waterfall and Riptide, and also our double black diamond course, Commando. These elements will bring a new thrill for those completing the courses.”

The Aerial Park is open to everyone ages seven and up, whose weight does not exceed 250 lbs. Guests wear a harness with a special locking lanyard that safeguards them from falling if they slip or let go.

“The average climber can expect to challenge themselves to the highest level that they would like to go to. It’s a great way to test your mind in finding the easiest way to go through each course. Participants should make sure they are wearing sneakers or hiking shoes, no open-toed shoes, and dress for the weather,” said Halloran.

Whatever course level guests choose to tackle, they’re sure to have a great time!

“Sky High Aerial Park is unbelievably fun and I can’t wait to go back this spring/summer,” said Emily Lineen, of Hamburg. “I think the zip lines are the most fun, but I also enjoyed the challenges associated with the balancing obstacles. I would recommend it to all adults who have some upper body strength and are somewhat physically fit. I think kids can do it if they have some hand strength for clipping and unclipping the carabiner.”

“I LOVED Sky High! I went with a group of friends – all adults – and we had a blast!” added Angela Meader, also of Hamburg. “The staff was very helpful and kind. I liked that they had different levels of difficulty so we could challenge ourselves while staying within our comfort zone.I thought the best thing was the zip lines – loved that we could end our day with them.  I would recommend the course to older children through able-bodied adults.”

Reservations are required on weekends and suggested for weekdays at the Aerial Park, by calling 716-699-HIGH. The single person rate for the Aerial Park is $48, with group rates and other packages available.

Climbing Forest

How about another kind of adventure that challenges participants to combine strength, strategy and careful footwork to achieve a goal? The Climbing Forest is like a 3-D version of a climbing wall, and it’s the only one of its kind in the country.

In the Climbing Forest, trees are outfitted with climbing holds (color coded to mark degree of difficulty), beckoning guests to climb to the top. Climbers are harnessed in, and once to the top, or as far up the tree as they’d like to go, they can just let go, and the Auto Belay system lowers them back to the ground. Staff members are always nearby to assist guests and prepare them for their climbs.

“I brought my two sons to the Climbing Forest last year, and we all loved it,” said Lineen. “At the time, they were five and seven and I was amazed at how well they did. The staff was helpful and encouraging. We liked it so much that we’re planning a birthday party there this June!”

The Climbing Forest is open to anyone five years or older who weighs at least 30 pounds. There is also a kids’ area with two trees where younger climbers can climb about six feet up and then back down.

One hour in the Climbing Forest is $15, with each additional hour available for $5.

Mountain Coaster

Looking for something a little less physically challenging? Check out the Mountain Coaster, where patrons sit in two person cars on a track and enjoy a relaxing ride up the mountain, followed by a control-your-own-speed journey through spirals, twists and waves back down.

The coaster is open for riders ages three and up, who are at least 38” tall. Children must be accompanied by a driver who is at least 16 years old. Drivers must be at least 54” tall. (Note that two children, under the age of 16, cannot ride together, even if they are both over 54” tall. If two people are riding together, one passenger must be a minimum of 16 years old.)

“The Mountain Coaster was lots of fun. It was cool to be on a coaster that was so much a part of its surroundings,” said Meader.

“My husband and I enjoyed the Mountain Coaster. At first glance, it seemed like it’d be pretty leisurely, but it picks up quite a bit of speed (which you control) and has a lot of little unexpected hills and turns to add some excitement,” said Holly Standish of Williamsville. “Everyone had a smile on their face coming in at the end of the ride.”

Single rides on the coaster are $8, and an all-day pass is $42.

Sky High Aerial Park and Climbing Forest are open Friday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., May 2-May 18. From May 23-June 15, they are open Friday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Starting June 20, they will be open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., through the summer months.

The Mountain Coaster opens for the season on May 23, operating Friday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and opening daily for the summer, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., starting on June 20.

In addition to various packages available for individuals, special rates are available for groups, schools, scouts and birthday parties. Holiday Valley is also offering a special Sky High Mother’s Day package this month that includes lodging.

For more information, visit www.holidayvalley.com.