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State Parks In Upstate New York | 15 Best Upstate New York Parks

If you are looking for State Parks in Upstate New York, I am here to help! I decided to put together a list of 15 of the best Upstate New York parks.

Hudson River view from state parks in upstate New York

New York is not just about the big city, there are national parks in Upstate New York with the most beautiful scenery and pristine landscapes.

From Long Island sandy shores to the incredible Niagara Falls, the Empire State is home to 180 state parks with breathtaking views and full of outdoor adventures.

No matter which state park you choose to visit, you’ll always experience something new.

Exploring The 15 Best State Parks in Upstate New York

If you’re visiting “The Big Apple,” yes, that would be New York City, and you want to escape the buzz of city life, read on to decide which of these Upstate New York parks you’d like to visit first.

A good thing to note: When visiting multiple national parks in upstate New York in one day, you will only have to pay the admission fee at the first park. Just keep the receipt and show it upon entry to each of the parks you visit on that same day.

Central New York State Parks

Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls, state parks in upstate New York

If you are anything like me and love waterfalls, you have to visit Buttermilk Falls State Park. It is 811 acres of absolute natural beauty, located just outside Ithaca and a very short distance from Robert H. Treman State Park.

The name Buttermilk Falls comes from the foaming cascades that Buttermilk Creek forms. It bubbles and flows down a very steep valley towards Cayuga Lake. Visitors can swim here in the summer months.

There’s a small lake in the upper park, with playing fields and picnic areas. Hiking trails that go along the gorge and through woodlands. This area doesn’t seem to get much traffic, as not many people know about it.

The lower park has more playing fields, plus there’s a campground and a natural pool. Beyond all this is Larch Meadows, which is a wetland area with a nature trail.

Upstate New York Hiking Trails in Buttermilk Falls State Park

  • Gorge Trail follows Buttermilk Creek as it cascades, then drops about 600ft.
  • Rim Trail is a 1.7-mile loop trail on the other side of the creek.
  • Bear Trail is 1.4-miles up to and around the lake. This trail continues up Buttermilk Creek to Lake Treman and Lake Treman Falls. The loop around Lake Treman highlights the waterfalls and the upper rim that overlooks the gorge.
  • At the end of the lake is the Finger Lakes Trail, which is New York State’s longest continuous hiking trail.


1 Pavilion that can accommodate 73 people – $100.00 per day (minimum 2 days)
25 Campsites –$15.00 – $19.00 per night.
18 Cabins – $238.00 – $266.00 per week

Pet Policy: Dogs allowed. They must be supervised at all times.
Location: 106 E Buttermilk Falls Road, Ithaca, NY 14850
Entry Fees: $8.00 parking fee.

Recommended Reading

Robert H. Treman State Park

Robert H. Treman State Park Lower Falls, state parks in upstate New York

If you’re looking for State Parks in Upstate New York with pure wild beauty, then Robert H. Treman State Park is where you need to be.

Located 5-miles from Ithaca, NY and spanning over 1000 acres with the ever so scenic Enfield Glen gorge, this park boasts 12 of the most impressive waterfalls, including the most amazing 115ft Lucifer Falls.

Robert H Treman State Park has two entrances:

The upper entrance is a good starting point for the Lucifer Falls gorge trail and the lower entrance gives you access to the swimming area and the campground. You can access Finger Lakes Trail or North Country Trail and other park trails from either entrance.

Hiking Trails

There is 9 miles of hiking to enjoy, including a section of the Finger Lakes Trail and the North Country National Scenic Trail. You’ll want to spend some time swimming beneath the waterfall in a stream-fed pool.

Swimming is allowed in the lifeguard areas only. But don’t worry because there are lifeguards on duty during the peaks hours in summer.


3 Pavilions that can accommodate 34 and 197 people – $75.00 to $150.00 (minimum rental period 2 days)
70 Tent / RV Campsites – $18.00 – $28.00 per night.
14 Cabins – Two have wheelchair access – $60.00 – $100.00 per night.

Pet Policy: Campsites and day areas allow 2 pets. They must be supervised at all times.
Location: 105 Enfield Falls Road, Ithaca, NY 14850
Entry Fees: $9.00 per vehicle parking fee.

Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park Just After Sunrise

Otherwise known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park is one of the most magnificent State Parks in Upstate New York.

This park came to life in 1907 and was named after William Pryor Letchworth. What started as a 1,000-acre estate is now 17-miles long, covering 14,350 acres of land that runs along either side of the Genesee River.

There are three major waterfalls, the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls, located in the southern part of the park. The falls are between cliffs, some as high as 600ft, and surrounded by lush forest.

The roaring Genesee River is what defines Letchworth State Park. There are around fifty waterfalls that all flow into the river and one of the waterfalls is Inspiration Falls, New York’s highest waterfall at 300+ft.

Things To Do In Letchworth State Park

You’ll have no time to feel bored.

  • 66-miles of hiking trails.
  • Trails available for biking and horse riding.
  • Swimming in the choppy waters is off-limits, but there is a pool to swim in.

Enjoy a peaceful paddle in a kayak if you wish to be on the water but prefer something calmer. Or, for those who need more of an adrenaline rush, there’s whitewater rafting.

If you want to get a glimpse from above, hop into a hot air balloon from $310.00 per person. Letchworth State Park also offers guided tours, performing arts, history, and nature programs.

Are you visiting in winter? Not to worry, there is so much fun to be had in the colder months too! Winter activities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice-skating, skiing, snow tubing, snowmobiling, and cross-country.

The options are endless!

Best Time To Visit

If you want to see the falls at their best, early springtime is the best time to visit. However, the park is open all year round from 6am-11pm.


Extending your stay? Camping is available between May and October; however, some cabins are available throughout the year.

250 Campsites – $27.00 – $30.00 per night
81 Cabins – $33.00 – $142.00 per night

Pet Policy: Pets are allowed in the campsites but not in the cabins.
Location: 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427
Entry Fees: $10.00 per vehicle

Recommended Reading

Cayuga Lake State Park

Cayuga Lake State Park, state parks in upstate New York

The highlight of Cayuga Lake State Park is the magnificent view of the lake. Relax on the beach or the lawns, and take in the beautiful expansive views while the kids play.

The banks are flat with a gentle uphill slope to the cabins and campsites. The grounds are spacious with playing fields and a playground with picnic tables.

Launch your boat and enjoy a day on the water with family and friends. Have some fun finding bullheads, largemouth bass, and carp. They thrive in the shallow waters, right near the park.

While in the deeper waters, there’s a variety of fish to catch, landlocked salmon, northern pike, lake trout, and smallmouth bass. If you visit in the colder months, there is the option of cross-country skiing, and if you like to brave the icy temperatures, there’s ice fishing.


4 Pavilions that can accommodate between 36 and 127 people – $50.00 – $125.00.
252 Campsites – $15.00 – $25.00 per night
14 Cabins – $59.50 – $100.00 per night
1 Cottage – $200.00 per night peak season
$125.00 per night off-peak

Pet Policy: Pets are allowed
Location: 2678 Lower Lake Road, Seneca Falls, NY 13148
Entry Fees: Vehicle entry fee of $7.00.
Boat Launch Fee: $7.00

Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park, in upstate New York

If you’re looking for the most famous Upstate New York Parks, Watkins Glen State Park would be the one. It’s breathtaking and located in the Finger Lakes Region.

With its excellent nearby fishing, Olympic-size pool, picnic, and camping facilities, you’ll have a great time. Within a short distance of 2-miles, this stream descends 400 feet past some of the most amazing 200ft cliffs exposing 19 waterfalls.

The Park Has Three Main Trails:

  • The Indian Trail – leads through the woods to the upper entrance.
  • The Gorge Trail – a 1.3-mile hike that winds under and over the waterfalls, through the spray from Cavern Cascade, and along stone steps. This trail gives you perfect front-row seating views of all the waterfalls.
  • The Southern Rim Trail – overlooks the gorge.


I would recommend staying longer than just the day to enjoy your time and take advantage of other nearby attractions.

3 Pavilions – can accommodate between 61 to 150 people
279 Campsites – $18.00 – $30.00
9 Rustic Cabins – $58.00 per night (minimum of 3 nights)

Pet Policy: Dogs are welcome. However, they are not allowed on Gorge Trail.
Location: 100 N Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Entry Fees: $10.00 per vehicle – which includes the use of the pool.

Chittenango Falls State Park

Woman Hiking in nature trail

Located in Madison County, this 193-acre State Park features a picturesque 167ft waterfall that cascades over glacial sculpting bedrock, which is said to be around 400-million years old.

View the falls from the top or follow the trail into the gorge and view the falls from the bottom, with Chittenango Creek flowing under a wooden bridge.

Chittenango Falls State Park offers various activities, including picnicking, a playground, a nature trail, 4-miles of hiking, and fishing.

Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed.
Location: 2300 Rathbun Road, Cazenovia, NY 13035
Entry Fees: $5.00 per vehicle.

Green Lakes State Park

Green Lake State Park, in upstate New York

This spectacular State Park is unlike other State Parks in Upstate New York, with its two emerald color glacial lakes surrounded by upland forests with trees over 300 years old.

Both Green Lake and Round Lake are unusually deep. Green Lake is about 195ft at its deepest point, and Round Lake is about 170ft. These lakes are meromictic, so the top and bottom water doesn’t mix. When this happens, the water is clear.

Things To Do In Green Lakes State Park

If golf is your thing, a special feature is the 18-hole golf course. There are walking paths around the lakes, plus 10-miles of trails in and around the park that are great for hiking and mountain biking.

A lovely beach with lifeguards on duty. Rent kayaks and canoes from $7.00 per hour. There’s also the option of “crystal” kayaks for $20.00 per hour. These are clear so that you can see under the water.

Fish from rental boats or along the side of Green Lake. You’ll find rock bass, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and bluegill.


5 Pavilions – Accommodating 25 – 100 people
142 Campsites – $18.00 – $36.00 per night
7 Cabins – $108.50 per night

Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed.
Location: 7900 Green Lakes Road, Fayetteville, NY 13066
Entry Fees: $10.00 per vehicle

Recommended Reading

Harriet Hollister Spencer State Park


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Also known as Spencer Park, located in Canadice, NY, south of Honeoye Lake. This is one of the national parks in the Upstate New York Finger Lakes Region with amazing scenic views.

It doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit; the view is always perfect. The sheer beauty is what draws people. And bring a picnic so you can really relax and enjoy your time here.

Harriet Hollister Spencer Upstate New York Hiking Trails

Throughout the park, there are miles of clearly marked trails. Popular activities are hiking and mountain biking. In the winter months, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are also very popular, with many competitions happening in the park.

Deer hunting is allowed in season, but small game hunting is not allowed at all.

Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed on a leash and supervised at all times.
Location: 6775 Canadice Hill Road, Springwater, NY 14560
Entry Fees: Free

1000 Island Region of New York State Parks

Long Point State Park

Man fishing on lake at sunset

This particular Long Point State Park is one of three Long Point State Parks in Upstate New York. Located in a very peaceful, remote area on Lake Ontario, facing Chaumont Bay.

A relatively small park in comparison to others. You won’t find any hiking trails here, but camping is very popular. And Lake Ontario is fantastic for fishing and boating.

Campsites are grassed and relatively open, with trees scattered around to provide natural shade. There’s picnic areas, a playground, and lovely views from anywhere.


74 Campsites – $15.00 – $29.00 per night

Pet Policy: Pets are allowed
Location: 7495 State Park Road, Three Mile Bay, NY 13693
Entry Fees: Long Point State Park has a vehicle entry fee of $6.00.
Boat Dockage:
Day Use – $6.00
Campers – $12.00
Overnight – $19.00

Coles Creek State Park


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You’ll find Coles Creek State Park off NY 37, on Lake St Lawrence. It opened in 1959 when the Robert Moses Dam was first built.

Coles Creek is another one of the national parks in Upstate New York that has no formal hiking trails, but a lot of exploring can be done from the park roads.


With 234 campsites, 1 large pavilion, a playground, playing fields, and a beach great for swimming, or take the boat and spend the day fishing. There’s the perfect excuse for a relaxing weekend getaway.

Campsites – $18.00 – $34.00 per night

Pet Policy: Pets are allowed
Location: Route 37, Waddington, NY 13694
Entry Fees:
Day Use (Peak) $7.00
Day Use (Off Peak) $6.00

Western New York State Parks

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is 75-miles south-south of Toronto and 17-miles north-northwest of Buffalo, New York. Made up of three waterfalls, American Falls, Canadian Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, all found at the southern end of the Niagara Gorge.

In my opinion, Niagara Falls should be at the very top of the list of spectacular State Parks in Upstate New York and one that certainly needs no introduction. It is America’s oldest and draws millions of visitors each year.

Interesting Facts

Niagara Falls is nowhere near the tallest in the world. It’s the amount of water that flows over that makes it the most impressive. The Canadian Horseshoe Falls drops about 188ft into the Lower Niagara River.

The crest line is around 2,000ft wide, and the plunge pool beneath the falls is 100ft deep. The rapids reach speeds of up to 68mph.

Things To Do In Niagara Falls State Park

When making your way to Niagara Falls, you don’t necessarily go with the idea of hiking. While there is a good paved trail system, which is often overlooked because of other attractions.

Hop on a boat tour and go on an adventure to witness the sheer volume of water that plummets from the summit every second. Experience the falls in all its glory, as visitors get up close enough to feel the vibrations and get a little splashed on too.

You can also get up close when visiting the Cave of the Winds on Goat Island.

If you want to view all three Falls for $1.25 per person, you can visit the Observation Tower.

After a full day of exploring, nothing beats an amazing meal at one of the restaurants overlooking the Canadian and American Falls. But be warned, it doesn’t come cheap!

Best Time To Visit

It’s not only the weather when deciding when to visit Niagara Falls. Each season offers a different feel, and the atmosphere changes. Some months are more pleasant than others, but most of the year, it’s great.


There are so many hotel options within walking distance to the Falls that will suit everyone’s budget.

Pet Policy: Niagara Falls State Park is pet-friendly; however, while they’re allowed along the footpaths and the green space, they’re not allowed to enter buildings or attractions.

Location: 10 Rainbow Boulevard, Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Entry Fees: Viewing the Falls is free, but parking is $10.00 per day, and if you wish to go on any tours, expect to be charged.

Recommended Reading

Four Mile Creek State Park

Woman camping by lake

Extremely popular for camping because of the panoramic views of Lake Ontario and being so close to Niagara Falls. Four Mile Creek has hiking trails, and the marsh is home to some stunning flora.

If you’re a birder, you’ll love spotting the whitetail deer and blue herons in the marsh. The best hiking spot would have to be to the lake, along Four Mile Creek west bank.


275 Campsites: $18.00 – $34.00 per night
Yurts: $83.75 per day

Pet Policy: Pets are allowed.
Location: 1055 Lake Road Youngstown, NY 14174

Whirlpool State Park

One of the State Parks in Upstate New York, north of Niagara Falls State Park, is Whirlpool State Park. Whirlpool has two levels – The Upper Level has many viewing points of the Niagara River Escarpment, the rapids, and the whirlpool along the Rim Trail.

And the Lower Level, where visitors get to explore by descending steps and 300 feet of a trail down to the gorge. There is fishing and hiking down at river level. Or you can hike upstream from the base of the gorge, along the Whirlpool Rapids.

Whirlpool State Park has a playground and picnic facilities. Be sure to pop into the gorge natural history room while you’re here.

Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash at all times.
Location: Niagara Scenic Parkway, Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Entry Fees: Free

Devil’s Hole State Park

 Hole State Park New York

North of Whirlpool State Park, along the Niagara River Gorge, is Devil’s Hole State Park. This 42-acre State Park is a fascinating geological formation that formed after the last ice age.

The Park overlooks Devil’s Hole Rapids. Fishing is prevalent here, so you are bound to see some fishermen down the side trails. Pack a picnic and spend the day exploring the scenic hiking trails.

Venture down the 400 stone steps to Devil’s Hole Trail and the base of the gorge, where you’ll find magnificent views of the rapids and rock layers.

Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed in the day-use areas.
Location: Robert Moses Parkway, Niagara Falls. NY 14305
Entry Fees: Free

Recommended Reading

Hudson River Valley Region State Parks

Bear Mountain

Hessian Lake, at Bear Mountain State Park, New York.

On the Hudson River’s west bank in rugged mountains is the 5067-acre Bear Mountain State Park. Whether you want a fall day trip or a summer hike, Bear Mountain State Park offers so much and is the perfect destination for a family getaway.

Things To Do In Bear Mountain State Park

  • For 360-degree views of Harriman State Park, the Hudson River, and Palisades, visit the Perkins Memorial Tower.
  • Hike one of the many trails in the park.
  • If you’re looking for mini amusement parks in Upstate New York, let the kids have some fun on the Bear Mountain Carousel.
  • Visit the four Trailside Museums and the Zoo.
  • Swim in the Bear Mountain Pool for $2.00 per person.
  • There are lovely open spaces for picnics.
  • If you love to fish and have a New York State fishing license, you can fish in Lake Hessian.
  • Rent a rowboat or a pedal boat.
  • And take the kids to the playground.
  • In winter, Bear Mountain State Park has an ice skating rink. Admission is $5.00.
  • There’s also cross-country skiing and ice fishing.

Where To Stay

Bear Mountain State Park has excellent accommodation options.

The Overlook Lodge: Pet-friendly with a cozy rustic atmosphere and large rooms – $130.00 – $250.00 per night.
The Stone Cottages: Pet-friendly and closer to the main attractions – $160.00 – $260.00.
The Bear Mountain Inn: No pets allowed! If you enjoy traveling in style, this is the deluxe choice – $170.00 – $300.00 per night.

Location: Palisades Parkway, Bear Mountain, NY 10911
Entry Fees: $7.00 parking fee.


And there you have it, the 15 State Parks in Upstate New York that I think are worth a visit. Did your favorite national parks in Upstate New York make it to the list?

If not, please do let us know in the comments below which ones I left out, and I’ll be sure to add them. If you are planning a holiday or even close getaway be sure to check out out website