By Shannon Dortch

The F.R. Newman Arboretum is closed to vehicular traffic during the winter months for public safety and to protect the valuable collections of trees within it. These collections are a living museum, and safekeeping them is part of the botanic gardens’ responsibility to future generations. 

Closing the Arboretum for the winter is based on current weather trends and the probability for below-freezing temperatures and precipitation patterns.  Given the complexity of changing climate and weather events, Cornell Botanic Gardens strives to keep the Arboretum open for as much of the year as possible, while also providing for the safety of our visitors. The gates open in the spring, when all threat of snow and ice is past.

Cornell Botanic Gardens practices environmental stewardship by not using salts to treat slippery surfaces. Road salts carry a high environmental cost, as they contaminate water supplies and burn the roots of nearby plants. Keeping the roads clear without using salts limits requires physical labor and other resources not available to the botanic gardens.

Visitors sometimes ask why arboretum roadways remain closed in winter, even when there appears to be no snow on the road. While some roads may seem clear of frozen precipitation, others in the shaded hills often are not.
Seasonal closure of the Arboretum is necessary to ensure the safety of guests during the cold-weather season when conditions vary greatly.

Pedestrians are welcome to explore the arboretum year-round from dawn to dusk. Vehicle access resumes in spring, when conditions permit.