See Dozens of Animals Up Close at Hidden Valley Animal Adventure

By Alicia Dziak

You don’t have to travel the world to go on a real safari. Just a short drive from Ellicottville, you’ll find one of the area’s most unique places — Hidden Valley Animal Adventure in Varysburg, where you can get up close and personal with dozens of exotic animals like camels, zebras, wildebeest, bison and ostriches, to name a few.

Approaching Hidden Valley on a rural country road, you’ll notice the beautiful property sprawl out in front of you, highlighted by a two-story timber frame lodge and a swan-filled lake, beckoning you to see what this place is all about.

Park your car and head into the lodge to purchase your tickets for the ride of the summer.

Guests will enjoy a relaxing one-hour trolley tour. Everyone gets one cup of food to share with any animal friends you wish along the tour (and more can be purchased along the way). Tour guides give interesting facts about all the animals, most of which come right up to the trolley to get their grub.

Even if you’ve been there before, there’s always something new to see along this part of your journey.

“This season we’ve added two ostriches, a red kangaroo, a baby nilgai, and two baby Boer goats,” said Carol Doggett, marketing director for Hidden Valley Animal Adventure. “We’ve also created a separate exhibit area for our wildebeest. And there are babies being born all the time to include a newborn zebra last month.”

The trolley meanders over a hilly road, leading through gated sections that feature various animals.

“Hidden Valley Animal Adventure offers a unique, up close and personal experience with the animals,” explained Doggett. “Your guided trolley tour through the park stops several times for the animals to come right up to the trolley where you can feed them and see them up close. You can also walk among the smaller, friendly animals in our Small Animal Adventure.”

The Small Animal Adventure, accessible near the lodge once the trolley tour concludes, resembles a gated petting zoo, with several animals such as burros, zebu, pot-bellied pigs, mini horses, llama, sheep and goats coming right up to you as you walk through. Make it even more fun by purchasing a cup of grain for $1 and feed the animals as you pass by them.

The Small Animal Adventure admission is included with general admission, or it can also be purchased separately for $6 if you only wish to do that.

Before or after you visit with the animals, stop for a bite to eat in the beautiful timber lodge.

“The lower level of the lodge houses The Trailside Grill & Bar, which offers a full dining experience for guests, including kid meals for families,” explained Doggett. “We also offer hard and soft ice cream and a patio concession stand for a quick snack or meal.”

Picnic tables are also available in the apple orchard, in front of the Small Animal Adventure area, for those who wish to pack a picnic lunch.

This time of year, and through Labor Day, Hidden Valley is open daily, and in the upcoming months, various special events are also planned. On Aug. 8, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., is Hidden Valley’s third and final car cruise of the season, which is free to the public.

On Sunday, Sept. 28 is the annual Fall Fest, one of Hidden Valley’s biggest events of the year.

“On that day, we have lots of activities to include live animal demonstrations, antique tractor cruise, antique farming equipment and harvesting demonstrations, games, a craft show, pumpkins, safari tours and a huge bonfire at dusk,” said Doggett. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Admission to Hidden Valley Animal Adventure is $18 for adults, $14 for children ages 3-10, and free for children 2 and under. Special group rates and season passes are also available. Admission includes the trolley tour, the Small Animal Park and one cup of grain.

Hidden Valley Animal Adventure, located at 2887 Royce Rd. in Varysburg, N.Y., offers a unique, family-friendly experience for animal lovers of all ages. Combine its breathtaking setting with the array of animals you definitely won’t see every day, and you’ve got yourself a day of adventure that won’t soon be forgotten.