LETCHWORTH STATE PARK — Simply dazzling.
Letchworth State Park is beautiful as-is, but visitors braving the cold on Saturday experienced a winter wonderland. Nearly a month’s worth of frigid temperatures had transformed the Genesee River gorge into something resembling a gigantic, snow and ice sculpture.
The upper and middle falls were almost entirely frozen, surrounded by walls of jagged ice which dwarfed onlookers. The river still flowed, but its waters were dark green-blue — also the color of nearby icicles at the upper falls.
The temperature? A mere 20 degrees.
Couples, families and individuals parked at the Glen Iris Inn. Bundled against the 20-degree weather, they navigated snowy trails through the winter surroundings.
Ashley Verboys and Julianne Reggero spent time taking photographs of the upper falls — now almost entirely frozen — and were walking a trail toward the Genesee Arch bridge, to get a better view.
“We’ve gotten into hiking, especially with COVID, and being able to get outside and get some fresh air,” said Verboys, 25, a Rockland County resident who’s attending classes at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “We’ve taken some pictures of the snow-covered bridge and the upper falls. We were excited to check it out.”
Reggero, 29, was visiting from Binghamton. She and Verboys visited the park in autumn and were making it point to see it in winter.
“It beautiful, the sunlight,” Reggero said. “We were lucky to get a nice sunny day today. We were kind of hoping on the drive up. A little bit of snow last night, just kind of fresh snow to top it off — pretty perfect.”
Elsewhere, visitors took cellphone photos of the frozen Glen Iris water fountain that had turned into a mountain of ice, or observed the sheer majesty of the frozen gorge stretching into the distance from the park’s middle falls. Others used its snowmobile trails.
Matthew and Jessica Kinmartin of Cheektowaga were walking up a snow-covered trail from the middle falls to the Glen Iris with their dog Tori.
“This is where we got engaged and we got married, so we just decided to take a winter trip out here with our dog,” Jessica, 33, said. ““We just got here a couple minutes ago.”
“(Tori) is 4 months old so we’re kind of acclimating her to seeing people too,” Matthew, 34, added.
The Kinmartins are well-acquainted with Letchworth State Park. They were married at the park this past September and have gone camping there — but winter visits were new.
“It’s really beautiful,” Jessica said. “I’ve never been out here in the winter before. We’ve really only ever been out here in the fall and over the summer.
It’s my first time ever seeing like this and it’s incredible — absolutely incredible,” Matthew said.
Check https://parks.ny.gov/parks/letchworth for more information and a list of winter-related traffic pattern changes.