Watkins Glen State Park is a must-see destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts visiting New York. Nestled in the Finger Lakes region of the state, the park is home to stunning waterfalls, lush greenery, and a variety of hiking trails that are perfect for exploring the great outdoors. Here’s a guide to help you make the most of your visit to Watkins Glen State Park.
The park features a variety of hiking trails that are perfect for visitors of all skill levels. The most popular trail is the Gorge Trail, which takes you on a 2-mile journey through the heart of the park, past 19 waterfalls, and through narrow passageways carved out by the Glen Creek. Along the way, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife, including deer, birds, and even the occasional bear.
Another great way to experience the park is by camping overnight. There are several campgrounds within the park, each offering a different experience. The Finger Lakes campground is the largest and most popular, offering over 200 campsites. You can also find primitive campsites that are perfect for those looking for a more secluded and rustic experience.
Watkins Glen Gorge
The Watkins Glen Gorge is the heart of the park and the main attraction. The Gorge Trail is the best way to experience the gorge, but there are also several other trails that lead to different sections of the gorge. The gorge is home to 19 waterfalls, each one more beautiful than the last. The highlight of the gorge is the spectacular Rainbow Falls, which is the largest and most impressive waterfall in the park.
Another must-see destination in the park is Seneca Lake. The lake is the largest of the Finger Lakes and offers a variety of activities for visitors. You can take a boat tour of the lake, go fishing, or simply relax on the shore and take in the stunning views. The lake is also home to several small islands, which can be visited by boat.
Take a guided tour of the park: While it’s certainly possible to explore the park on your own, taking a guided tour can be a great way to learn more about the park’s history and ecology. Guided tours are offered by the park staff and cover a wide range of topics, from geology and botany to the cultural history of the area.
The Hydroelectric Power Station
This historic power station is located at the park’s south end and was built in 1913. It’s a great example of early 20th-century engineering and architecture. The station is not open to the public, but you can get a glimpse of it from a nearby overlook.
The Catholic Chapel of the Holy Childhood
This charming little chapel is tucked away in the woods near the north end of the park. It was built in the 1920s by a local Catholic priest, who wanted to provide a place of worship for the many families who were camping in the park. The chapel is still used for occasional services, but visitors are welcome to stop by and admire the beautiful stained glass windows and peaceful setting.
As I already mentioned, there are several campgrounds within the park, each offering a different experience. The Finger Lakes campground is the largest and most popular, offering over 200 campsites. You can also find primitive campsites that are perfect for those looking for a more secluded and rustic experience. Camping is an affordable option, and it allows you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the park.
The Comfort Inn is a budget-friendly option located just a short drive from the park. It offers comfortable rooms at an affordable price and provides guests with amenities such as free breakfast and Wi-Fi.
The Finger Lakes Bed & Breakfast is a great mid-range option located just a short drive from the park. This lovely B&B offers comfortable rooms and a delicious breakfast. Some rooms even have a Jacuzzi and fireplace.
The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel is a luxurious option located on the shores of Seneca Lake. It offers beautiful rooms, a fitness center, indoor pool and spa and on-site dining options with great views of the lake.
In conclusion, Watkins Glen State Park is a must-see destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts visiting New York. With its stunning waterfalls, lush greenery, and variety of hiking trails, it’s the perfect place to explore the great outdoors. Be sure to hike the Gorge Trail, camp overnight, visit the Watkins Glen Gorge and Seneca Lake, and consider taking a guided tour to learn more about the park’s history and ecology.