By Angela Berti
Niagara Gazette — After one of the most successful tourism seasons in recent memory, Niagara Falls State Park—and all of our other regional parks—are getting just a little quieter … but not too quiet!
Visitors from around the globe, as well as from our own community, continue to visit Niagara Falls State Park to enjoy the mighty cataracts in all of their autumnal splendor. For many, this is a favorite time to visit, when the crowds have left and the colors explode.
For me, as much as I generally dislike the cold and snow of winter, I love the park when the trees are encrusted with ice and the ground below my feet is frozen solid as I crunch my way to Prospect Point to catch a windy view of the tumultuous Falls on a bright January day. And that illustrates what is so fabulous about Niagara Falls and all of our wonderful parks—They never close!
Because of the dedication of all the wonderful men and women who work at our regional state parks, while we sometimes have to close restrooms or other amenities, the parks remain open year round for you to enjoy. Hiking, walking, biking, fishing is a 365 day business for us. And not only do we keep the parks open for you to enjoy on your own or with your family, we even provide opportunities for you to enjoy special programs thanks to the Regional Interpretive Staff. The diversity of programs offered year round provides something for everyone and maybe this is a good chance to try a park you have never been to before! All of our programs are free but they do book up fast so please make a reservation by calling the number listed with each event. And to keep up to speed with all that is happening with our interpretive programs, check them out on Facebook by searching “Niagara Region Park Interpretive Programs Office.”
Spring and the summer crowds will be here again before we know it but until then, head to the nearest park and strive to enjoy one of the things that makes WNY so special—the four seasons.
5 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., Friday
The River from the Rim, Devil’s Hole/Whirlpool State Park: Tranquil and turbulent as it makes its way to the sea, the Niagara River has many stories to tell and mysteries to reveal. This gentle and scenic hike will give you some insight to the natural and cultural history of the Mighty Niagara. For information and registration call 282-5154.
10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday
Flat Out Fall Adventure, Whirlpool State Park: This journey will take us to the mighty rapids of the Niagara River at the Whirlpool Flats. Along the way we will discuss historical events, identify plants, observe wildlife, and connect with nature. For information and registration cal 282-5154.
10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Oct. 21
The Great Gorge Experience, Niagara Falls State Park: This hike is a nice introduction to the trails and scenic beauty of the Niagara Gorge. We will use the new staircase to connect to the rim trail and visit some new, breath-taking scenic overlooks. For information and registration call 282-5154.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 27
Halloween Spooktacular, New York Power Authority: Happy Halloween! Ghosts, ghouls and goblins, oh my! State Park naturalists will take part in this event at the New York Power Authority’s visitor center. Come join us for a ghoulish fun time and make a Halloween craft! For information contact NYPA at 286-6661.
6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 27
In Search of Owls, Golden Hill State Park: Owls occupy a very fascinating place in nature. As we listen and look for them we will talk about their life history and the various species found in the Niagara Region. For information and registration call 282-5154.
6 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., Oct. 28
Autumn Moonlit Hike, Beaver Island State Park: Let us hope to “Feast our Eyes” on what Native Americans call the Full Hunter’s Moon! The sky should be bright as we search and listen for creatures of the night! For information and registration call282-5154.
10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Nov. 10 and Nov. 17.
Gorge at Low Water, Whirlpool State Park: Enjoy the Niagara Gorge after the volume of water in the Niagara River is reduced by 25%. Join park naturalists for a guided hike that will take you past the Whirlpool to the site of the Great Gorge Route station and beyond. For information and registration call 282-5154.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dec. 8
Deck the Halls, New York Power Authority: Come bring the family to a holiday celebration of fun at the New York Power Authority’s visitor center. State Parks will join in and provide a craft for the children. For information contact NYPA at 286-6661.
6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Dec. 13
“Go and Catch A Falling Star!” Geminid Meteor Shower, Evangola State Park: The Geminids are now considered by many experts as the most brilliant and reliable meteor shower surpassing the August Perseids shower! So bring a blanket and lawn chair and enjoy up to 120 blue green streaking meteors an hour! For information and registration call 549-1050.
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 15.
Christmas Crafts, DeVeaux Woods State Park: Take a break and come join us for a fun-filled and relaxing afternoon of holiday crafts! We will have a variety of simple crafts for you to make. For information and registration call 282-5154.
10 a.m. to noon, Dec. 22
Ski More Knox! Knox Farm State Park: A rollicking ski on the “Ess Kay” snow, a “Show Barn” and hayfield, along we go! Cut like a “Sabre” along the slope, with a “Roycroft” style and a “Polo” lope. A mansion and greenhouse beckons on the rise, the beauty and history brings mist to our eyes! For information and registration call 549-1050.
6 p.m. - 8 p.m., Dec. 28
The Full Long Nights Moon Snowshoe Hike, Wilson Tuscarora State Park: The sparkle of the full moon on a freshly fallen blanket of snow illuminates the night like nothing else. Join us for a walk on the 1st full moon of winter and the last full moon of 2012. Look & listen for nocturnal animals as you enjoy the park in a whole new way. (Weather permitting for snowshoe use). For information & registration call (716) 282-5154.Angela Berti is the Western District marketing and public affairs coordinator for the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.