Griffis Sculpture Park is a whimsical, fantastical, delightful art park in bucolic Cattaraugus County, roughly nine miles north of Ellicottville.
There are over 250 large-scale sculptures integrated into the natural landscape. Some are out in the open meadows, while others are tucked into the woodlands.
I have yet to find documentation denoting every sculpture in the park, but it would make a for a great scavenger hunt to find them all.
According to the website, “Since the early 60’s, the steel sculptures of Larry Griffis, Jr. and other international artists have been residing in the woods, fields, and even ponds of Griffis Sculpture Park. The 450-acre Ashford Hollow park, located eight miles outside of Ellicottville, is not only a tremendous regional attraction, but holds the distinction of being one of America’s largest and oldest sculpture parks.”
Griffis Sculpture Park is split into two sections: Rohr Hill Road site and Mill Valley Road site.
Rohr Hill Road Site
Sculptures like these pictured above can be found on both sides of Rohr Hill Road and are freely accessible by car whenever the roads are safe for driving.
Though this is technically part of the Griffis Sculpture Park, there are no restrooms or amenities. This area is more like a roadside attraction. It’s a fun moment you may discover by accident just driving to the main site on Mill Road.
The view is extraordinary, especially in the fall, and lots of folks stop to take pictures here.
Mill Valley Road Site
Mill Valley Road is the spot most consider the official park, with a parking lot, port-a-potty, and information booth.
This site is open May 1-October 31 mainly because the trails in spring can become extremely muddy. Even during the open season, the trails deeper into the park can be closed after heavy rains.
It may look like a walk in the park, but there are places that a good pair of hiking shoes will serve you well. Some of the trails are gravel or grass paths, others were rocky, muddy climbs through the woods.
You could spend a leisurely hour in the front part of the park, an aggressive two hours seeing it all quickly, or five hours taking your time to explore every detail. My best advice is to start early in the morning.
This is a very rural setting so plan on bringing your own water to keep hydrated, maybe a picnic lunch, and bug spray. The quirky nature of the metal and wood sculptures throughout make it so enjoyable you almost forget the challenges of the walk itself.
The site is broken into several areas: Trailhead, The Bathers, Insects, Amazons, Castle Tower, Griffis Family Heads, The Maze, and The Stage
This trail is your initial introduction to Griffis Sculpture Park. The pathway that connects the parking lot with the pond-area. You’ll find a few small-scale sculptures along the way.
The meadow surrounding the pond features the bathers plus a dozen more sculptures. Lots of family and selfie photo ops here!
Research leads me to believe that all ten bathers used to stand around the pond, and time has lead to some deterioration. That is why you find them lying down, missing limbs, and appearing to be doing synchronized swimming in the grass. I find them fascinating all the same. I definitely stood here for quite some time trying to make sense of it.
The “David” statue stands at the entrance to the trail connecting the meadow to the rest of the park. The trail, featuring more sculptures like this spectacular mosquito, can be closed periodically after heavy rain. It is a bit of an up-hill hike but relatively easy if the trail is solid.
Beyond the Insects
True be told, I have not made it to the furthest reaches of the park, mainly because my timing hasn’t yet to be favorable.
I’ve been to the Griffis Sculpture Park three times now. The first time, it was 90 degrees at 9 am and I felt I had walked far enough for my own good. The next time, heavy rains had closed the back trail, and the last was just a quick stop to show a friend on our way to Salamanca.
My guess is that two-thirds of the park are found here, as well as two-thirds of the sculptures.
So I’m on a mission in 2021 to see the rest of the park. I plan on revisiting on a mild June or mid-October morning, after several days without rain. Better for walking and with less actual mosquitoes.
More information about Griffis Sculpture Park
Cost: Griffis Sculpture Park is officially open May 1 through October 31. Admission is $5, cash, PayPal or Venmo. I believe the gift shop is also open on the weekends and may take credit cards. They have super cute shirts for sale.
Located in East Otto, roughly 2 hours / 110 miles from Rochester, and 9 miles north of Ellicottville (get directions)
For a scenic drive, I suggest heading over to East Aurora, then down Mill Road, NY-240, and NY-219 into Ashford Hollow.
Map This Route
There’s another near Soldier’s Circle.
Have you visited Griffis Sculpture Park?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!