13 Challenge Courses, Mountain Coaster and Climbing Forest at Holiday Valley

By Eva Potter

Many outdoor enthusiasts may already know about Holiday Valley’s Sky High Adventure Park. Trip Advisor lists it as the number one attraction in Ellicottville. Have you experienced it firsthand?

If you haven’t visited the park recently, it’s time to make plans to come back. Whether you love the strategy behind maneuvering, seek out thrill rides, or just love to climb trees, Sky High will meet all your requirements for a great time.

“People really love it, enjoy having a unique adventure with their kids and friends,” said Jane Eshbaugh, marketing director at Holiday Valley.

Aerial Park

Set in the woods near Tannenbaum Lodge, the Aerial Park’s 13 challenge courses are family friendly and geared to a wide range of ability levels. From easiest to most difficult, including three yellow courses, five greens, two blues, two single black diamond and one double black diamond, most people are able to complete the courses they try. All courses except the Commando have at least one zip line. The yellow courses are about 15 feet off the ground and gain height with each difficulty level.

Each course consists of a series of platforms, “bridges,” obstacles and zip lines. There are approximately 10-15 features on each course and some trees have more than one platform.

This spring, Holiday Valley added the Black Widow course, rated a single black diamond, which comes complete with a gigantic rope spider web. Along with the other two black diamond courses, these are the three highest in the entire park — situated 50-plus feet off the ground.

“You can challenge yourself at whatever level you want range from easiest (yellow) through the double black diamond Commando. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you’re finished,” said Eshbaugh.

“It’s a great confidence builder for kids, as they often are the ones to tell their parents how to get through an obstacle. It’s a wonderful team building experience for businesses or sports teams. And just like skiing or riding, the common experience brings people closer together.”

Of course, Holiday Valley is all about safety — each person is harnessed into a locking lanyard and briefed before hitting the courses. There’s even a zip line practice area where you can try using the equipment before you head for the park.

“When you stand outside the Harness Shop, everyone is happy and smiling,” said Eshbaugh.

This fall, guests can look forward to Night Crawlers night climbs at the Aerial Park on Sept. 26-27, Oct. 3-4 and Oct. 17-18. Reservations are required.

Whatever level you choose to tackle, you’re sure to have a great time!

Climbing Forest

Kids and adults alike love the Climbing Forest, a 3-D version of a climbing wall equipped with climbing holds that are coded to indicate difficulty level. Staff members are always nearby to assist climbers.

Of course, harnesses provide security as you make your way to the top, or as far as you’d comfortably like to go. Then just let go and the auto belay system will lower you back to the ground.

There is even a kids’ area with two trees where younger climbers can climb about 6 feet up and back down.

Mountain Coaster

Are you more the spectator type? Then the Mountain Coaster may be just the ticket for you.

Take a leisurely ride up the tracks in a two-person car and enjoy the view. Then zoom down 4,805 feet with 15 curves, 12 waves, a jump, plus a huge circle/spiral. You control the speed. The coaster is open for riders ages 3 and up, who are at least 38” tall.

The Aerial Park and Climbing Forest are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Sept. 1. Beginning Sept. 5, the hours are 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Oct. 19, and Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 2, weather permitting.

The Mountain Coaster runs daily 11 a.m.–6 p.m. through Sept. 1. From Sept. 5 to Oct. 19, it will run Friday through Sunday, and will close on Nov. 2 (until winter).

Reservations are strongly suggested for the Aerial Park and Climbing Forest and can be made by calling (716) 699-HIGH. For your safety, age and other restrictions apply to all attractions at the park. Visit www.holidayvalley.com/skyhigh for more information.