Ice Dunes: Barcelona, New York

Surreal, expansive, some have even described it as “a frigid white moonscape.” Based on just these observations one would expect this destination to be in the upper reaches of Canada, or even into the wilds of Alaska, but fortunately for many of us in the lower 48, it is much closer. Welcome to the Ice Dunes of Western New York.

Less than a mile from Interstate 90, lies a world hidden to the tens of thousands that use the New York State Thruway every day. Just off of exit 60 (Westfield, Mayville) on Lake Erie, you can find one of the most awe-inspiring sights around. Simply put, a desert of ice, stretching into the distance. A beautiful beach at any time of year, in the winter and early spring months Barcelona Beach is transformed into an icy wonderland of dunes and natural ice sculptures as beautiful as Mother Nature can create.

A short walk from the car and you are standing in a world transformed. Dunes running the length of a shoreline, some 30 or more feet in heighth, and into the distance. Climb the one for the best views of your surroundings. To your Northeast you will find Westfield Lighthouse on bluffs that run into the distance, and to your southwest, Barcelona Point stretches into the lake. Watch your step though, towards the end of the season as the ice begins to break up, one could find themselves in a cold situation before you realize it.

After a walk on the dunes, stop by Jacks-On-Barcelona restaurant to warm up and get one of the best burgers in western New York. Towards the end of the season, try Zebro’s On the Lake Harbor for some of the choicest of the locally caught Lake Erie fare, or head to Westfield Fisheries for some smoked whitefish to go.

Truly a unique and beautiful view any time of year, Barcelona Beach has much to offer the traveler wanting to get away, but not get ‘that’ far away. For my money though, you can’t beat the winter season, when the Eries’ shoreline is transformed from restful beach to wild desert. An amazing change indeed.

By: Kevin Paskawych

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