11 Most Beautiful State Parks In New York

New York is home to over 200 historic sites and state parks. Luckily for those looking to travel within the US, the superb scenery remains well-preserved. Without further ado, here are the 11 most beautiful state parks in New York.

1. Letchworth State Park

This park in Castle is home to the “Grand Canyon of the East,” a large gorge created by the Genesee River. The park also includes rugged cliffs and a trio of waterfalls known simply as the upper, middle, and lower falls. The water is great for inflatable kayaking and white water rafting.

There’s also 60+ miles of hiking trails. If you want a bird’s-eye view, you can take a hot air balloon ride. Stay in cabins, fully-equipped lodges, or at one of the campsites there.

2. Watkins Glen State Park

You’ll find this park situated at the stunning southern end of popular Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes area of Watkins Glen. One of the highlights here is an exceptional gorge by Glen Creek. The eroded shale and limestone have created stunning rock formations and 19 waterfalls along the popular two-mile Gorge Trail.

There are also another two trails that follow the gorge where you will enjoy extraordinary vantage points. Here you can choose from cabins or campsites, some of which even include new electric hookups.


3. Niagara Falls State Park

Niagara Falls State Park near Buffalo is the oldest state park in the country. Opened in 1885, it’s famous for its main attraction, the world-famous Niagara Falls. This awesome attraction overflows with more than 700,000 gallons of water per second.  

Here you can also see a trio of thunderous falls: the Bridal Veil Falls, American Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. The popular Maid of the Mist tour offers exceptional views. You can also visit Goat Island, Terrapin Point, and the Cave of the Winds.


4. Chimney Bluffs State Park

Situated east of Rochester in Wolcott on the southern shores of Lake Ontario, this park is best known for its beachfront setting and unique topography. It features rugged rock formations and 150-foot-high spires are the result of severe weather conditions and ages-old glaciers. While erosion brought forth the stunning surrounding landscape, it also destabilized the popular Bluff Trail.

Today you can once again hike to the top of the bluffs and enjoy the memorable views. After your hike, cool off in Lake Ontario.

5. Minnewaska State Park

This state park in Gardiner spans the massive Shawangunk Mountain Range below Catskill Park. Both hikers and mountain bikers frequent this place to take advantage of the 50+ miles of trails here in this 22,000-acre park.

There’s also the one-mile Awosting Falls Trail day hike which leads to an attractive 60-foot waterfall and the pool beneath it. Both of the property’s pristine lakes–Lake Awosting and Lake Minnewaska have beach areas where you can go swimming too. Other highlights include the Rainbow Falls and Gertrude’s Nose Trails. 

6. Robert H. Treman State Park

Located southwest of Ithaca, this state park includes 12 pretty waterfalls and a gorgeous gorge along the Enfield Creeks. If you’re not big on hiking but would rather go swimming then head for the popular Lower Falls situated under half a mile from the parking lot. There’s a nice size swimming hole right under the falls. On the other hand, if you love hiking there are nine trails here. The best of them are the 4.3-mile Rim Trail and Gorge Trail Loop.


7. Hudson Highlands State Park

Hudson Highlands State Park is unsurprisingly found on the Hudson River between the towns of Beacon and Cold Spring. Hikers will like the 5.5-mile Breakneck Ridge Trail which rises 1,250 feet in a three-quarter-mile section close to the top. There’s also the Bull Hill Trail, which provides hikers with great views of the neighboring Storm King Mountain.  There’s also a less challenging trail at Dennings Point which provides views of the waterfront and abandoned buildings being reclaimed by nature.


8. Buttermilk Falls State Park

Only one mile from Robert H. Treman State Park, you’ll find beautiful Buttermilk Falls State Park just outside of Ithaca. The park is named after the incredible Buttermilk Falls, which plunge down the shale rock to a sparkling natural pool where travelers swim in during the hot summer months.

The gorge here includes other smaller falls that altogether drop a total of 600 feet. There’s also the 4.5-mile Lake Treman Loop, Pinnacle Rock, and the wetlands around the lake.


9. Bear Mountain State Park

Bear Mountain’s Bear Mountain State Park includes both some rocky peaks and verdant forest on the west bank of the Hudson River. The area is great for fishing and even swimming when it comes to Hessian Lake. Hike the historic revolutionary roads of the popular 5.7-mile Doodletown Bride Path Loop Trail. Visit Split Rock Falls, and the Doodletown Reservoir. Hike up to the Perkins Memorial Tower and take in the stunning views of the Hudson River Valley.


10. Hither Hills State Park

You’ll find this state park out in Montauk. Here in the very heart of New York’s Hamptons, you can enjoy affordable camping at the 190-site campground, golden sand beaches, and other recreation areas. Hikers can hit the narrower bay beaches. In fact, there are several trails for both hikers and horseback riders. If you tire of the forest, head for Napeague Harbor and its rolling dunes.


11. Allegany State Park


Salamanca’s Allegany State Park stretches for almost 65,000 acres. Not counting the Catskills and Adirondacks, this is the largest state park in all of New York. The bedrock and massive boulders ensconced throughout the thick forest here also make it quite a distinguished location.

Rock climbers take the quarter-mile Thunder Rocks Trail to explore the hidden alcoves. Red House Lake has a beach perfect for summertime swimming. Canoers and kayakers head to Quaker Lake or even the Allegany River itself. You can tent camp, stay at an RV site, or rent cabins, cottages, or yurts.


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