Best State Parks in NY

Best Of New York. Nov 15th 22

There's more to New York than New York, much more, in fact.

And while a visit to the big apple remains central to a trip to New York state, many other hidden gems like the state parks that dot New York state also merit a visit.

A weekend getaway at these scenic parks is an opportunity to unwind and indulge your senses amid the sights and sounds of nature. Let's explore five of these gems.

1. Letchworth State Park

Letchworth has earned the moniker of "Grand Canyon of the East," thanks to a deep gorge and cliffs as high as 600 feet carved out by the Genesee river that flows through it.

The gorge runs along the 17-mile length of the park and features three waterfalls, the upper, middle, and lower falls. 

The choppy waters and rapids are ideal for white water rafting, and the park offers over 60 miles of hiking trails through the dense forest. Hot air balloon rides provide an opportunity to get a bird's-eye view of this beautiful park. 

The park offers accommodation for all budgets ranging from the luxurious Glen Iris Inn to cabins and campsites. 

Address: 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY

Phone: +1 585-493-3600

Website: Letchworth State Park

2. Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park is located at the southern tip of Lake Seneca in the Finger Lakes region. The park features an impressive gorge of eroded limestone and shale with 19 waterfalls along its two-mile gorge trail.

A hike along the 1.5-mile Gorge Trail is the highlight of your visit to this state park. The trail traverses across multiple staircases and bridges and showcases all 19 waterfalls. 

Along the way, you will walk behind several waterfalls, and the mist from the waterfalls is refreshing on a hot summer day. 

The park offers over 250 camping sites; some even accommodate 40-foot RVs. If camping isn't your thing, you can also access one of the nine rustic and off-grid log cabins.

Address: 1009 N Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, NY

Phone: +1 607-535-4511

3. Niagara Falls State Park

America’s oldest and most famous park has continued to attract millions of visitors yearly. The famous Maid of the Mist boat tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

The state park features multiple attractions for visitors, including scenic vistas, miles of hiking trails, and delectable dining options. The state park is open 365 days a year.

4. Buttermilk Falls State Park

Walk along the promenade that runs along the Niagara River and explore several islands interconnected by bridges. 

These bridges enable you to walk between the three major waterfalls, the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. 

Goat island is the largest island, and it features paved trails that take you to major scenic viewpoints, like Cave of the Winds and Terrapin Point. A word of caution, the entrance fee for parking is expensive.

Address: 332 Prospect Street, Niagara, NY

Phone: +1 716-278-1794

Website: Niagra Falls State Park

5. Buttermilk Falls State Park

Located on the outskirts of Ithaca, Buttermilk Falls State Park is a stone's throw from the Robert H. Treman State Park. 

The park is aptly named thanks to the gorgeous Buttermilk Falls, which cascade down a shale rock face to form a natural pool at the base of the falls. Visitors can jump in and swim in the pool during the summer months. 

Hikers can head upstream and catch a glimpse of several smaller waterfalls along a gorge that descends over 600 feet within the park's borders.

Take in multiple waterfalls, the Pinnacle Rock, and work your way to the upper rim that overlooks the gorge and the marshland region surrounding Lake Treman. Thirsty hikers can quench their thirst with a cold draft at Ithaca Beer Co.

6. Bear Mountain State Park

Bear Mountain State Park spans the rocky peaks and forest that rises from the Hudson River’s west bank. The park delivers stunning vistas with plenty of options for outdoor activities. 

The many brooks, rivers, and lakes are ideal for angling enthusiasts and swimmers. Trekkers will enjoy the 5.7-mile Bride Path Loop as it winds its way around historic, revolutionary roads and abandoned mines. 

The trail takes you past the Split Rock Falls and Doodletown Reservoir. It affords exhilarating views of the Hudson River along the way. 

Bear Mountain’s trails are popular for cross country skiing during the winter months. The Bear Mountain Inn is perfect for an overnight stay, giving you sufficient time to explore the park. 

The park also provides camping sites for adventure or budget-minded visitors.


7. Hudson Highlands State Park

Address: Hudson River Valley, NY-9D, Beacon, NY

Phone: +1 845-225-7207

Website: Hudson Highland State Park

A visit to one of the York state parks should be a must-do when you visit New York. Parks in New York offer a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and a weekend getaway to a state park during your visit to New York is suitable for both body and mind.

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