Here's where to head for outdoor adventure in the Empire State.
Sure, New York City is our nation's most populated metropolis, but the rest of the Empire State has some pretty great wide open spaces once you get outside the urban areas. The Catskills and Adirondacks make for beautiful scenery, and the day trip potential is through the roof.
Any campers, hikers, or general adventurists will get a lot out of the New York State Parks system, which is a great collection of examples showing off the state's amazing natural resources.
Maybe you need a boat launch for some summer fishing, or perhaps you're in the mood for some cross-country skiing in the winter. Biking, snowshoeing, visiting a swimming pool, renting a kayak, overnight camping, or just visiting some nice picnic areas are all great ways to enjoy New York's State Parks.
1. Letchworth State Park
Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the East, this beautiful area features incredible overlooks, giant cliffs, and captivating waterfalls along the Genesee River. Take on the 66 miles of trails, hop in a kayak, or try out whitewater rafting. In the winter, Letchworth is great for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating.
2. Niagara Falls State Park
In addition to its namesake wonder, Niagara Falls State Park features the Cave of the Winds, Niagara Gorge, and plenty of beautiful hiking trails.
3. Saratoga Spa State Park
This park located in upstate New York is famous for its mineral hot springs, where visitors can soak in the beauty. A performing arts center, auto museum, and golf course are all also available within park limits.
4. Watkins Glen State Park
Situated in the Finger Lakes Region, Watkins Glen State Park is a hiker must-see for its scenic Gorge Trail surrounded by 19 waterfalls. In the summer months, enjoy the Olympic-size swimming pool, and try your foot at snowshoeing in the winter.
5. Taughannock Falls State Park
Boasting breathtaking falls even bigger than Niagara, Taughannock Falls State Park sits just north of Ithaca and provides access to Cayuga Lake for boating and fishing. North and South Rim Trails provide short uphill hikes with a view.
6. Minnewaska State Park Preserve
For views of the Shawangunk Mountain ridge, Verkeerder Kill Falls, and Lake Maratanza, head to Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The park offers miles of hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing trails as well as plenty of water for boating and swimming.
Once you've made stops at these top picks, here are some other New York State Parks to check out:
- Harriman State Park
- Allegany State Park
- Bear Mountain State Park
- Buttermilk Falls State Park
- Taughannock Falls State Park
- Robert H. Treman State Park
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