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Visit Letchworth State Park in the Winter

Letchworth State Park is an immensely popular park located in Western New York. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock here each year, and for good reason.

But all that hustle and bustle ebbs to a quiet trickle during the winter season. Is Letchworth State Park open in the winter? And is it worth a visit?

  • Letchworth State Park is open for visitors during the winter months, offering spectacular scenery of ice-covered waterfalls.
  • There are plenty of snow activities available to enjoy, and as an added incentive, there is no entrance fee during the winter.
  • Be aware that many parts of the park are closed for the season.

Frozen waterfalls and fountains, snowy trails to hike or cross-country ski, a blazing fireplace to warm up by after a few hours of tubing – these are just a few of the winter attractions at Letchworth State Park.

If you love getting out and playing in the snow or just driving around to look at the snow-covered scenery, a trip to Letchworth in the winter is well worth it and something my family looks forward to every winter.

Entrance and Fees

The main park road is only partially open during the winter months.

The road is closed to the south from the Glen Iris to the Portageville Entrance and to the north from the Great Bend Overlook towards the Perry Entrance.

The Portageville Entrance and the Perry Entrance are closed, so the only entrance point to the main attractions at Letchworth during the winter is the Castile Entrance.

The Mount Morris Entrance at the North end of the park remains accessible, as does the Parade Grounds Entrance on the east side of the river.

There are no fees collected during the winter months (Oct. 25 – May 6), so your park entrance is free. (During the rest of the year, the entrance fee is $10 per vehicle.)

It is also worth noting that not all of the restrooms are open during the winter season. The following restrooms are available during the winter:

  • Inspiration Point
  • Trailside Lodge
  • Middle Falls
  • Highbanks Camping Contact Station
  • Highbanks Recreation Area South Shelter
  • Dam Overlook

Visitor Center and Humphrey Nature Center restrooms are also open during office hours.

Places to see

While much of the park is closed for the winter, the major highlight attractions are still open, and arguably even more spectacular when covered with ice and snow.

Upper Falls and Middle Falls

Both the Upper and Middle Falls area, close to the Glen Iris, remains open during most of the winter season (with the exception of severe winter storms).

To access this area, you’ll have to enter at the Castile Entrance and drive south on the main park road.

The road will be blocked off just past the turn off down to the Upper Falls area, but you can head down to the Upper Falls parking area.

Be aware that while this turn off is a one-way road during the main season, it is temporarily a two-way road during winter.

The reason for this is that the road up past the Middle Falls to the Glen Iris is closed due to ice build up from the waterfall spray.

You can drive down to the small Middle Falls parking area, but you’ll have to turn around and head back past the Upper Falls parking to get back up to the main park road.

Definitely stop and walk up to see the Upper Falls.

The spray from the waterfall freezes and creates beautiful ice sculptures on the rocks and plants along the wall of the gorge, creating something unforgettable.

It changes constantly throughout the winter season, and from year to year, so there’s always a new work of art to admire!

From there you can walk down or drive down to main attraction, the Middle Falls. Here again, the waterfall spray builds up in ice formations on the gorge walls, on the rocks at the bottom, everywhere!

If it’s sunny, you can even catch a rainbow through the spray, glinting off the shining backdrop of ice. Stunning.

“Ice Volcano” at the Glen Iris Fish Pond

As you head back up to the main park road, make sure to stop at the Glen Iris goldfish pond and see if the fountain has frozen into a cone shaped “volcano”.

The fountain is gravity fed from the trout pond just up the hill, so it doesn’t get turned off in the winter.

The result, if the weather stays cold enough for a few weeks, is a tall cone shaped mountain of ice, with the fountain still spraying water out the top.

The kids always love to see how tall the cone is and are super disappointed if we’re there during a winter thaw to see no ice volcano at all.

Inspiration Point

The parking area at Inspiration Point is open throughout the winter, and some years the paved trail remains open, although some years, depending on the conditions, the trail is blocked off.

If it happens to be open, this is a spectacular viewpoint that allows you to see both the Middle and Upper Falls covered in snow.

Great Bend Overlook

Back toward the Castile Entrance is the Great Bend Overlook, one of the most dramatic vistas in the whole park.

Be sure to stop here for a few minutes to take in the sweeping bend of the river with steep canyon walls dropping away at your feet.

Always impressive, every detail of the rocky walls are brought into relief when outlined with white outlines of snow.


While things certainly slow down considerably in the wintertime, there is no lack of things to do at Letchworth this time of year.

In fact, it feels a bit like an exclusive, insiders-only experience to roam the park almost all to yourself, with just a few other adventurous souls.

Hiking and Guided Hikes

While many of the roads in the park are closed, almost all of the park is still accessible for hiking. Trails are well marked, and fun to traverse through snowy woods.

Just be sure you’re prepared for the elements with warm clothes and warm, water-proof footwear.

You won’t be handed a map upon entry to the park since the gate house is not staffed, but you can access trail maps at the Letchworth Park site to print out beforehand.

Don’t rely on looking at the map on your phone (unless you previously downloaded it), because cell service is definitely spotty at the park!

Feel free to hike at your own pace and where your feet take you. Or if you like to meet new friends and have a guide point out things along the way, guided hikes happen at various times throughout the winter season.

These guided hikes are for adventurous, seasoned hikers, and take you on some of the lesser known corners of the park.

Hikes are scheduled most Sundays 10AM – 2PM, and you are encouraged to bring your own lunch. You can check out the hike schedule (and other events) on the park events calendar.

Humphrey Nature Center

You could think of the Humphrey Nature Center as the base of operations for many of the winter activities going on at Letchworth.

The Nature Center is open regular hours throughout the winter (Thursday to Monday 10:00AM – 5:00PM, November 1 – April 28).

You can stop in just to browse around the many hands on exhibits and warm up after a hike.

But there are also many educational programs run here throughout the winter season. My kids enjoy the knee-high naturalist programing that goes on during the school year.

About every other Monday, you can attend an educational event geared toward 3-6 year olds. Pre-register by calling (585) 493-3680.

Other winter programming includes birdwatching, maple syrup demonstrations, guided nature walks, and a winter lecture series about the history of people and places connected to Letchworth park.

There’s always something going on here, so check out the schedule and get plugged in!

Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing

Many of the trails at Letchworth are perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The trails are shared by hikers, but signage encourages hikers to avoid walking on the skiing tracks.

One of the most popular places to start out is at the Trailside Lodge (located next to the Humphrey Nature Center).

Trails lead back around the tubing hill toward the trout pond, and from there you can access numerous trails around the pond or back into the woods.

Tubing and Sledding

The Trailside Lodge is the perfect base of operations for a memorable time sledding or tubing on the giant hill just behind it.

In years past, Letchworth would staff the tubing hill, and offered tubes for use to any comers.

In these litigation-nervous days, the park no longer takes responsibility for manning the tubing hill, but it’s still available for visitors to use at their own risk.

Bring your own tube or sled, climb the hill up the trail ascending right between two big tubing runs, and take your pick!

The tubing run to the left (as you go up the hill) has more undulations and is a bit narrower, so this is perfect for older kids and teens (and foolhardy adults!), while the run to the right is smoother and wider, making a great starting point for the younger set.

After you’ve had your fill of tubing or sledding and fingers and toes are turning numb, you can head inside the Trailside Lodge to warm up.

Most winter weekend days there’s a blazing fire in the central fireplace, perfect for warming your chilled fingers and roasting s’mores.

Plenty of hooks line the walls to hang up wet snow gear, and picnic tables are plentiful, so bring along your picnic lunch or a hearty snack to fuel up for more sledding fun.

Some weekends you can also find concessions of home-baked goods available for purchase.


Another fun way to see Letchworth in the winter season is by snowmobile. While many of the trails are closed to snowmobiles, it is possible to traverse the length of the park on a dedicated snowmobile trail.

You can find a snowmobile trail map and other instructions for snowmobilers here.

Other areas within the park prohibited to snowmobiles are also shown on the map. You can read the full list of Rules and Regulations for snowmobilers here.

Snowmobiling is allowed in the park during daylight hours without any special permit. If you’re hoping to be there after dark, you’ll need a night use permit.