The Most Stunning Western New York State Parks to Explore this Year

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The state of New York is huge. It’s home to 180 state parks and so many other public lands that it can be difficult to choose which spots to visit. Hopefully, we can help! Western New York is home to so many absolutely beautiful spots. We’re going to give you the run-down on the best western New York State Parks here.

New York is separated into quite a few regions. For the purposes of organization and consistency, we’ll separate western NY into four separate regions that are consistent with the way that the New York State Parks system organizes them. If you’d like to book a campsite or find the trail maps on their mobile app, it’ll be easy to find them!

There are so many state park facilities in western New York, in addition to state forests and other natural areas. We had to leave quite a few off the list. It would be so overwhelming. We’ve specifically left off ones that really center around their marinas. We don’t partake in that boater life, so we really can’t offer any expert opinions.

A Quick Table Overview of western New York State Parks

ParkRegionEntry Fee*Camping?
Beaver IslandNiagara$7No
Buckhorn IslandNiagaraFreeNo
Devil’s HoleNiagaraFreeNo
Golden HillNiagara$6Yes
Knox FarmNiagaraFreeNo
Niagara FallsNiagaraFreeNo
Woodlawn BeachNiagara$7No
Lake ErieAllegany$7Yes
Long Point Allegany$7No
Darien LakesGenesee$7Yes
Hamlin Beach Genesee$9Yes
Buttermilk FallsFinger Lakes$9Yes
Chimney BluffsFinger Lakes$5No
Robert H. TremanFinger Lakes$9Yes
Stony BrookFinger Lakes$9Yes
Harriet Hollister Spencer Rec AreaFinger LakesFreeNo
Taughannock FallsFinger LakesFreeYes
Watkins GlenFinger Lakes$10Yes
*Some entry fees are seasonal. Please check dates with the specific park.

How To Navigate western New York State Parks

Overall, they have done a great job with a mobile app to help with the navigation through each state park in New York. You can download park information ahead of time and save it for offline use.

You can also use the search feature in the app to sort by region, amenities, and activities offered. “Favorite” parks that you plan to visit soon to access their information quickly. You’ll find phone numbers, hours of operation, fees, amenities, and an events page.

Everything you’ll need to know when planning and executing each state park trip can be found here! Download the NY State Parks Explorer app or find more information.

Western New York State Parks by Region

Before we get into the details of each state park, here is a little idea of the information we’ll provide here for you.

First will be a few notes so that you can compare parks, hours, fees, and activities. Then, you’ll find more details about the activities and facilities.

The following is an idea of what we’ve included in the list and how to read the information.

Size: Noted in acres, so that you can compare the parks by size. Sometimes, you want to explore at great lengths and sometimes you want to keep it close, you know?

Hours of Operation: Is this park a seasonal use park or is it open year-round? Are there certain hours where it is off-limits?

Fee: This will be the day-use vehicle entrance fee and when it is collected. Buses and larger vehicles will have other fees. Camping and tours will also have additional costs.

Usage: Is this park just a day-use park, or are there campgrounds, cabins, or other overnight facilities there?

Activities: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but what things can you do at each park? Hike? Swim? Sports? Something else? We’ll note some fun things to do at each park in this section.

Niagara Region

Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the country and a fantastic western New York State Park to visit.
Niagara Falls State Park

The Niagara Region of western New York includes the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. It’s the most well-known region worldwide because it includes Niagara Falls! There are several unique parks in this region that give it some variety.

Here we go!

Beaver Island State Park

Size: 950 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dusk to Dawn
Fee: $7, Beach Open
Usage: Day Use
Activities: Biking, Disc Golf, Fishing, Swimming

Beaver Island Park Map

One of two state parks that can be found on the Niagara River’s Grand Island. The island is fairly large and is situated between Niagara Falls and Buffalo. This state park is situated on the southern tip of the island.

For those who enjoy swimming in the summer, there are 0.5 miles of sandy beach for swimming and recreation. Canoes and kayaks can also be launched from multiple spots here.

Do you enjoy summer sports? This park may be just the place for you to visit. Options include horseshoes, disc golf, volleyball, golf, basketball, soccer, and softball. This park is set up for such a variety.

While hiking is not the primary focus of this park, you will find the East River Trail, which travels near the water for nearly one mile of hiking.

There are no overnight facilities in this park.

Buckhorn Island State Park

Size: 895 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: Free
Usage: Day Use
Activities: Biking, Fishing, Hiking, Birdwatching

Buckhorn Island State Park Map

Although the area of this park is comparable to its counterpart at the southern end of the island, there is a much different feel here.

This park is fairly quiet, likely because there are fewer activities here. This is precisely why we’ve included both here.

Hiking here is on the easier side, as the trails don’t offer much elevation change. You’ll be able to catch beautiful glimpses of the Niagara River and keep an eye out for wildlife on the trails.

There are no overnight or restroom facilities in this park. Please use those at Beaver Island or elsewhere prior to your visit.

Devil’s Hole State Park

Size: 42 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Restrooms open mid-April to late October
Fee: Free
Usage: Day Use
Activities: Hiking, Fishing, Snowshoe & X-Country Ski

Devil’s Hole State Park Map

Hiking is the primary activity here, but this park is quite small! Take the stairs down to the riverbanks to see the rapids and whirlpools. Be prepared, though! The hike back up to your car will give you a workout.

From the bottom trail, you can view the Canadian cable car passing over the scenic river.

This is the first of three parks on this list that can all be accessed via the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail.

Take care if you do visit this park when it is wet. On some of the trail surfaces, the footing can be slippery.

Use this park to get away from the large crowds at Niagara Falls.

There are no overnight facilities at this park.

Evangola State Park

Size: 733 acres
Hours of Operation: Dawn to Dusk
Fee: $7, between the hours of 9 am-5 pm, 5/25- 6/16 weekends & holidays only; 6/22-9/2 daily
Usage: Day Use or Overnight (mid-May to mid-October)
Activities: Hiking, Swimming, Biking, Disc Golf, Baseball, Basketball, Tennis, Hunting, and X-Country Ski (seasonal)

Evangola State Park Map

The shores of Lake Erie are the reason to stop at this western New York State Park. The Angola shale-lined cliffs surrounding the beach are quite different than the sandy beaches nearby.

A few miles of short hiking trails wind through the park to explore, some through wooded areas and some along the lakeshore.

Biking is also an option, but the designated bike path is very short, at only 0.5 miles one way. This would be great for children, but I probably wouldn’t bother bringing my bike along for this as an adult.

There are overnight accommodations here, which can be reserved ahead of time. These include 80 campsites spread over three loops in the campground, 6 yurts, and a cabin.

Golden Hill State Park

Size: 510 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: $6, between the hours of 8 am-9 pm, 5/14-10/10
Usage: Day Use or Overnight (mid-May to mid-October), Lighthouse Cottage available year-round
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Disc Golf, Fishing, Hunting, Lighthouse Tours, X-Country Skiing, Snowmobiling

Golden Hill State Park Map

The notable feature of this park is the Thirty Mile Lighthouse. While it isn’t in use anymore, being decommissioned in 1958, it has been converted and is now available to reserve and spend the night in. How cool would it be to spend the night in an old lighthouse?

There are four hiking trails traveling through the parklands, with shoreline views, scenic lookouts, and wooded terrain.

Swimming is possible at the park’s beach, but you might want to bring some sort of water footwear. The beach can be rocky.

Overnight accommodations here in addition to the Thirty Mile Lighthouse include 55 campsites and 6 yurts.

Knox Farm State Park

Size: 633 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: Free
Usage: Day Use
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Equestrian, Dog Park, X-Country Ski,

Knox Farm State Park Map

Knox Farm historically was an estate owned by the Knox family of Buffalo. The patriarch of the family made his fortune in five and dime stores scattered across the region. You may recognize a business name: Woolworth’s!

Grassy pastures, wetlands, and woodlands all make up the land of this park, and you can hike through each habitat.

Hiking around these lands can be done on generally short trails. The longest route, the Outer Loop Trail, is 3.5 miles long. You could certainly combine some other trails, though, for a day full of exploring.

Also notable in this park is The Native Landscape Resource Center, where native species of plants are grown to help with habitat restoration, among other things. This is the first of this kind of facility for the state parks system.

There are no overnight facilities in this park.

Niagara Falls State Park

Size: 435 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk (some attractions seasonal)
Fee: None for Pedestrian Entry, But Varies for Parking. More Info Here.
Usage: Day Use
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Waterfalls, Tours

Niagara Falls State Park Map

This may be the most popular site on this whole list, but many do not know that this area is actually a state park. I know we didn’t, initially!

Fun fact: This western New York State Park is actually the oldest state park in the United States!

Experience all that “the American side” of the falls has to offer, including a guided trolley ride, Cave of the Winds or Maid of the Mist tours, or the Niagara Adventure Theatre.

If those tours aren’t your thing, hike away from the hustle and bustle for miles along the trails connecting you to other close-by state parks, including Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole.

Whirlpool State Park

Size: 109 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk (restrooms mid-April through the end of October)
Fee: Free
Usage: Day Use
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Fishing, X-Country Ski

Whirlpool State Park Map

The third and final of the Niagara Gorge state parks on this list is Whirlpool State Park. There are two different experiences here, divided into the street level with scenic overlooks and the river level, obviously getting you up close and personal with the Niagara River below.

It’s also the mid-size of the three recommended gorge parks. Visiting this park is a good way to try and get away from a few of the Niagara Falls crowds.

Stop for a picnic or just continue your hike on the Gorge Rim Trail. Whatever you choose, just don’t forget to stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

There are no overnight facilities at this park.

Woodlawn Beach State Park

Size: 107 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk; Swimming season Memorial Day to June 26, weekends 11 am-7 pm; June 27 to Labor Day, daily 11 am-7 pm
Fee: $7
Usage: Day Use
Activities: Hiking, Swimming

Woodlawn State Park Map

This is the closest thing to sand dune terrain that you’ll find nearby on Lake Erie. That’s really the reason to visit this one.

The beach is nearly one mile long, and it is a popular hang-out spot to cool off during the summer.

Sunsets are beautiful at Woodlawn Beach, as it faces a view to the west over Lake Erie.

Hiking trails are minimal, but they’re there, so you should explore them on your visit. Just use them to take a little break from the beach.

There are no overnight facilities in this park.

Allegany Region

Allegany State Park has rock formations, lakes, woodlands, and waterfalls to explore.
Allegany State Park

Tucked way in the southwest corner of the state of New York, the Allegany region is a hidden gem. Everything from beautiful lakes, to mountains, to quirky finds, you’ll see.

Outdoor activities galore can be found in this region.

Allegany State Park

Size: 64,800 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk; Swimming areas each have their own seasons
Fee: $7, collected 9 am to 4:30 pm; 5/29 – 6/20 weekends & holidays only, 6/26 – 9/6 collected daily, 9/11 – 10/11 weekends & holidays only
Usage: Day Use or Overnight
Activities: Hiking, Swimming, Fishing, Hunting, Biking, Wildlife Viewing, Kayaking/Canoeing, Horseback Riding, Sports Fields and Courts, X-Country Ski & Snowshoe, Snowmobile

Allegany State Park Map

A camper’s paradise, they say! This park is huge. It is not just western New York’s, but the largest park in the entire state of New York.

Divided into two separate spaces, the Quaker Area and the Red House Area have different experiences to offer guests.

The Quaker Area has not one, but two lakes and plentiful hiking trails. The camping is exceptionally beautiful on this side of the park.

In the Red House Area, be sure to stop by the historic park headquarters Administration Building, situated up on the hill overlooking Red House Lake. From there, access a variety of hiking and biking trails, or drive to other trailheads scattered around the park.

Be sure to stop by the beautiful covered footbridge and hike through Thunder Rocks. The history and stories behind the naming of the rock city are quite interesting. We’ll let you find out for yourself during your visit.

While we’ve linked to a PDF map of the park here, we’d definitely recommend stopping by the administration building/visitor’s center to grab a park map. This park is just so large that the big, foldable version of the map was much more helpful in navigating this one.

There are two campgrounds for tents and RV’s, and then there are the cabins. There are cabins scattered literally all over Allegany State Park. The Quaker Area includes 189 campsites and 230 cabins. The Red House Area is home to 125 campsites and 144 cabins.

Lake Erie State Park

Size: 355 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: $7, collected 9 am- 5 pm, 5/22 – 5/23 & 9/7 – 10/10 Weekends & Holidays only and 5/29 – 9/6 Daily 
Usage: Day Use or Overnight
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Kayaking/Canoeing, Disc Golf, Fishing, X-Country Ski & Snowshoe, Snowmobile

Lake Erie State Park Map

This one is right on the shore of Lake Erie. There are beautiful views to be had out over the water. This is also a recipe for beautifully colorful sunsets!

Trails cover the outskirts of the park through wooded areas and along the lakeshore, while everything else is centrally located. Take in some views of those beautiful Lake Erie bluffs!

This park is a great weekend getaway from nearby cities, including Erie, Buffalo, and Rochester.

Overnight accommodations here include 10 cabins and a campground with 102 campsites.

Long Point State Park on Lake Chautauqua

Size: 320 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk; Seasonal Beach Hours
Fee: $7, 6 am- 6 pm weekends & holidays, 8 am-4 pm Monday-Wednesday, 8 am-6 pm Thursday-Friday
Usage: Day Use
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Horseshoe, Fishing, Canoeing/Kayaking, Swimming, X-Country Ski & Snowshoe, Snowmobile

Long Point State Park on Lake Chautauqua Map

There are a few Long Point State Parks in the state of New York. They’re not all the same. This one is, obviously, on the shores of Lake Chautauqua.

Fun fact: Lake Chautauqua is 1,308 feet above sea level, and it’s one of the highest bodies of water in North America that you can navigate by boat.

The beach here is a popular spot for swimming in the summer. Hours and accessibility are based on weather and staff.

Spend the winters exploring the trails on skis or snowshoes. Typically, there is plenty of winter snow in this and other western New York state parks for these activities.

There are no overnight facilities at this park.

Midway State Park

Size: 44 acres
Hours of Operation: Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend on select days, 12-5 pm
Fee: Wristband $12-$14 for all rides and attractions; individual tickets available for purchase, and activity-dependent
Usage: Day Use
Activities: Sports Fields & Courts, Picnic Areas, Playground, and more!

Midway State Park Map: Not necessary- you’ll see!

Midway is not your typical state park, that’s for sure! Instead, it is an amusement park! And not just any amusement park, but one of the oldest continuously operating in the United States!

Stop here to play a game of putt-putt, ride go-karts, or hop on the historic carousel. There is also space with classic arcade games to test your hand. There are also plenty of kiddie rides to occupy your little ones.

Midway is only about 2 miles from Long Point State Park on Lake Chautauqua, so you could easily plan a trip to the cute little town of Bemus Point for the weekend and hit both of these parks in one trip.

There are no overnight facilities in this state park.

Genesee Region

The beautiful view from Inspiration Point in Letchworth
Letchworth State Park

The Genesee Region of western New York doesn’t have quite as many designated state park areas as some of the other regions. What it lacks in numbers, Genesee makes up for in sheer beauty. One of the parks here was named the best state park in the entire country in 2015!

Find lakes, waterfalls, and jaw-dropping overlooks. Adventure is at every corner of this region. Here are a few of the highlights.

Darien Lakes State Park

Size: 1,845 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk; Swimming and Camping are seasonal
Fee: $7
Usage: Day Use or Overnight
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Disc Golf, Sports Courts, Swimming, Fishing, Equestrian, X-Country Ski & Snowshoe, Snowmobile

Darien Lakes State Park Map

The star of the show at Darien Lakes State Park is Harlow Lake, which is 12 acres in size and offers swimming areas and fishing opportunities.

Other recreational opportunities include nearly 9 miles of hiking trails and a few miles of mountain bike trails to explore.

There is plenty of space in this park for you to spread out and find your corner of peace.

If theme parks spark your interest, then be sure to visit the nearby Six Flags Darien Lake. It’s only about 4 miles from the state park and offers both a water park and theme park with 6 roller coasters. There is also an outdoor concert venue onsite. Keep an eye out for your favorite artists to swing through.

Darien Lakes State Park is home to 154 campsites for overnight accommodations.

Hamlin Beach State Park

Size: 1,287 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: $9, Collected 9 am to 5 pm; Weekends May 15 – June 22, Daily June 23 – Labor Day, Weekends After Labor Day till the 3rd weekend in October
Usage: Day Use or Overnight
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Fishing, Swimming, X-Country Ski & Snowshoe, Snowmobile

Hamlin Beach State Park Map

Hamlin Beach has some of the nicest swimming beaches in western New York State.

In addition to being a popular spot for swimmers in the warmer seasons, Hamlin Beach is also a designated “Important Bird Area” defined as a local area with important native bird habitats. It’s a great spot for birdwatching, especially during migration seasons.

There are some trails around this state park that you can take to explore more of the environmental areas here. There are plenty of picnic areas too. Don’t forget! This state park is open during winter for cross country skiers and snowshoers.

7 miles of trails can be explored, including a one-mile-long interpretive trail through the Yanty Creek Marsh.

There are 264 campsites available to be booked within the park.

Lakeside State Park

Size: 744 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: $6, collected 5/25 – 6/9: 10 am – 6 pm, weekends & holidays; 6/15 – 9/2: 10 am – 6 pm, daily; 9/7 – 10/13: 10 am – 6 pm, weekends & holidays
Usage: Day Use or Overnight
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Disc Golf, Playing Fields & Courts, X-Country Ski & Snowshoe, Snowmobile

Lakeside State Park Map

Another of the state parks that sit right along the shores of one of the Great Lakes, Lakeside claims a stretch of Lake Ontario. There aren’t any beaches here for swimming, though.

You’ll just have to enjoy the views and check out the trails. There are 4 miles of them to explore. The area surrounding the park is full of fruit orchards and farmland.

While plenty of the state parks in western New York have disc golf courses of varying lengths, the one here is particularly beautiful. Don’t lose your focus while taking in the views of Lake Ontario!

274 campsites can be reserved within Lakeside State Park.

Letchworth State Park

Size: 14,427 acres
Hours of Operation: Year-Round
Fee: $10, collected from 9 am-5 pm daily
Usage: Day Use or Overnight
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Equestrian, Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking, Swimming, Hot Air Ballooning, X-Country Ski, Snowmobile

Letchworth State Park Map

Letchworth is definitely the star of the show in this region, and it has been named the best state park in the US, not just the state of New York, in 2015. Surrounding 17 miles of the Genesee River gorge, waterfalls and stunning views are abundant here.

Although the 3 major waterfalls grab your initial attention, there are plenty of other beautiful spots for water to flow over the rocks and gorge walls up to 600 feet tall.

This place isn’t known as the Grand Canyon of the East for nothing! Orienting yourself in this park may be a little difficult at first because the river actually flows north!

There are also 66 miles of trails to explore, including the 7 mile Gorge Trail between the waterfalls and a 24-mile section of the Finger Lakes hiking trail.

The Autism Nature Trail, or ANT for short, is a fantastic one-mile trail for anyone with autism or similar disability to be able to explore nature at their own pace. “Sensory stations” scattered along the trail include various activities to become more immersed in the outdoors. It’s the first of its kind in the state of New York, recently opened in the fall of 2021.

Check out our complete guide for all the exciting things to do during your visit to Letchworth State Park.

There are a few different locations for overnight stays. 257 campsites are available for reservation spread over the campgrounds. 82 cabins can also be booked for overnight stays. For those looking for something a little less rustic, stay at the Glen Iris Inn or one of the few homes or cottages managed by the property scattered throughout the park.

Finger Lakes Region

Watkins Glen State Park in western New York has beautiful waterfalls to explore over the trails.

Although there are waterfalls, lakes, and streams to be found in the other regions of western New York, the Finger Lakes Region takes the cake in variety!

Hundreds of campsites are scattered throughout the parks in this region, and there are endless opportunities to explore. The best part?

The region is also particularly known for its wine trails. After a long day of hiking, swimming, or general exploring, enjoy a glass of your favorite red, white, or rose from the place down the street!

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Size: 811 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: $9, collected 4/1 – 11/30 from 6 am to 6:30 pm daily
Usage: Day Use or Overnight
Activities: Hiking, Fishing, Swimming, Waterfalls

Buttermilk Falls State Park Map

Just south of Ithaca, NY, and the shores of Cayuga Lake, you’ll find Buttermilk Falls State Park.

The namesake waterfall of this park is the star of the show, here. The waterfall is not just for looking at, though! During the summer months, you can also swim in the natural pools at the base of the falls.

There are many trails throughout the park, leading along the gorge and through forested areas.

Spend the day here exploring the area around Lake Treman and Buttermilk Creek.

After your day of exploring, spend the night at one of the 18 cabins or 25 campsites scattered throughout the campground.

Chimney Bluffs State Park

Size: 597 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: $5, collected daily from April 1- October 31
Usage: Day Use
Activities: Hiking, Fishing, X-Country Ski & Snowshoe, Snowmobile

Chimney Bluffs State Park Map

The bluffs and the shoreline in this park are breathtaking! There is an easily accessible main area and a trail that takes you to the top of the bluffs for beautiful views.

The bottom of the bluffs can be very dangerous. It is not recommended to climb down off-trail.

Explore the trails for beautiful views of Lake Ontario and the namesake chimney bluffs, clay formations, and sand dunes of the park.

While this may be a park to consider for a quick visit, it is certainly one that you shouldn’t skip!

There is no camping within this park, but there are great day-use options.

Robert H. Treman State Park

Size: 1,110 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: $9, collected 4/1 – 11/30 from 6 am to 6:30 pm daily
Usage: Day Use or Overnight
Activities: Hiking, Fishing, Swimming, Waterfalls

Robert H. Treman State Park Map

A stunning gorge with 9 miles of hiking trails winding through, this state park has so many beautiful features to see. There are 12 waterfalls along the gorge trail.

The gorge, known as Enfield Glen, is expansive. At certain spots in the park, it feels like it goes on forever. The waterfalls scattered throughout make the hiking exciting at every turn. The tallest of those waterfalls, Lucifer Falls, is 115 feet tall!

Another great feature of this park, and some of the others in the region, too? There is a swimming pool area, but it isn’t like your typical concrete swimming pool. The one here is stream-fed and natural. It’s right at the base of one of the other waterfalls in the area, known as Lower Falls. There has even been a diving board installed here for those looking to get a little more adventurous!

There are also overnight facilities at this park for those hoping to stay a little closer to the action. 70 campsites and 14 cabins are available for reservation.

Stony Brook State Park

Size: 568 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: $9, collected 5/1/2021 – 6/20/2021 from 9:00am – 5:00pm, weekends & holidays; 6/26/2021 – 9/6/2021 from 10:00am – 6:00pm, Monday-Friday, 8:00am – 6:00pm, weekends & holidays; 9/11/2021 – 10/11/2021 from 9:00am – 5:00pm, weekends & holidays
Usage: Day Use or Overnight
Activities: Hiking, Swimming, Courts & Fields, Picnicking, Waterfalls, X-Country Ski & Snowshoe

Stony Brook State Park Map

Another beautiful gorge home to beautiful waterfalls can be found at Stony Brook State Park. This park seems fairly small compared to some of the others with similar star attractions. There aren’t quite as many waterfalls here as some others, and the gorge maybe isn’t quite as deep.

These, however, are certainly not reasons to skip a visit to Stony Brook. This would be a great spot to stop for a morning or afternoon of hiking, followed by a picnic meal.

There are tons of charcoal grills scattered all around the picnic area near the north end of the park. The trailheads for the three hiking trails are very close by, too, making this parking area a great base if you aren’t staying the night.

Three larger waterfalls and plenty of smaller water features, an old stone bridge, and beautiful views await you on your hike through the park.

If you’d like to camp in Stony Brook, there are 88 single campsites, 1 group tent camp area, and 8 cabins available for reservation.

Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area

Size: 1,550 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: Free
Usage: Day Use
Activities: Hiking, Biking, X-Country Ski & Snowshoe, Snowmobile

Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area Map

Managed by the Stony Brook State Park staff, the Harriet Hollister Spencer Recreation area adds more trails to explore. The areas are separated by about 19 miles, so you’ll have to drive about 30 minutes between the two.

When you reach the recreation area, though, you’ll be treated to beautiful views of Honeoye Lake. There are nearly 23 miles of trails to explore here!

There isn’t much in the way of modern facilities here, though, so come prepared with snacks, drinks, and any other supplies you may need.

Drive the Overlook Road for more beautiful views of Honeoye Lake, as well as possibly the Rochester skyline in the background on a clear day. On a really clear day, you can see all the way to Lake Ontario.

There are no organized overnight facilities within this park recreation area.

Taughannock Falls State Park

Size: 750 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: $9, collected 4/27 – 5/26: 6 am – 6 pm, weekends & holidays; 5/27 – 9/2: 6 am – 6 pm, daily; 9/3 – 10/20: 6 am – 6 pm, weekends & holidays
Usage: Day Use and Overnight
Activities: Hiking, Picnicking, Swimming, Waterfalls, Boat Rentals, Stand-up Paddle Boarding, X-Country Ski& Snowshoe

Taughannock Falls State Park Map

Taughannock Falls is the tallest “free falling” waterfall in the state of New York, dropping 215 feet over a large limestone cliff.

The waterfall is located in Taughannock Falls State Park, which houses plenty of opportunities for hiking, swimming, picnicking, and more.

Explore the 400-foot gorge from both the north and south rim, as well as from the trail through the bottom of the gorge.

After spending time taking in the views from the trails, head over to the nearby beach for swimming to cool off and relax by the water.

68 campsites and 16 cabins are available for booking at Taughannock Falls State Park.

Watkins Glen State Park

Size: 778 acres
Hours of Operation: Year Round, Dawn to Dusk
Fee: $10, collected daily from mid-May to mid-October, dawn to dusk
Usage: Day Use or Overnight; Pool, Camping, and Gorge Trail are Seasonal
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Playgrounds, Courts & Fields, Swimming, Waterfalls, X-Country Ski & Snowshoe

Watkins Glen State Park Map

One of the most well-known areas in the Finger Lakes, Watkins Glen State Park, has a reputation for stunning views of nearly 20 waterfalls and other water features scattered throughout the gorge.

Weave through the gorge on the trail, traveling over, under, and even behind the beautiful waterfalls. The steps along the trail will definitely give you a workout. You’ll have to cover over 800!

There are so many places to explore, which is the reason why this has also been one of the best state parks in the United States.

You certainly won’t regret a visit here!

There are a ton of campsites to choose from in this park. 305 campsites are scattered over 5 loops. There are also 9 cabins to reserve.

Dogs and Western New York State Parks

Pets are generally welcomed to enjoy some of the outdoor activities, including hiking and multipurpose trails, at most state parks with their human best friends.

There are a few spaces where they are not permitted, which include playgrounds, buildings, golf courses, boardwalks, pools, and spray-grounds or guarded beaches unless signs indicate otherwise.

Pets are limited to two per campsite and day-use areas unless prohibited by signage or instruction. Unless being walked on a leash, dogs must be crated or kept under control at all times. If requested, you will need to provide proof of rabies vaccinations.

More Helpful Resources for your Western New York State Parks Trips

Booking campsites can be done online ahead of time to ensure availability. Book through ReserveAmerica.

If you plan to visit multiple New York State Parks within one calendar year, purchase the Empire Pass to save on entrance fees. The $80 pass covers all entrance fees for every state park in New York. Visit more than 10 times throughout the year and you’ll soon start to save!

Knock three state parks off of your, and this list by hiking the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail. It’s not a loop, so if you hike the whole thing, out and back, you’ll cover 12.4 miles. There are alternatives to change the route a little one way or the other, which can be found on the Niagara Gorge Trail System Map.

If you’re looking for a new adventure, western New York State Parks offer some of the best hiking trails, beautiful lakes, and stunning waterfalls. There are so many parks to explore that every adventurer is sure to find their perfect match. Which one will be your next destination?