Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Camping

Western NY - Finger Lakes


We just got back from a 12 night camping trip in the Finger Lakes area of western NY. 

We camped at Stony Brook State Park.  The campgrounds were above average/good (hot water, showers, etc.).  Our specific site could have been a little better, but it had it's pluses too.  There were a few short hiking trails (+/- a mile or so).  One along the river with a few waterfalls (two pretty large ones and a handful of smaller ones).  A dammed up swimming hole.  In theory you aren't supposed to get in the water other than in the lifeguarded swimming pool.  But unless a ranger was around, everyone was in the water.  Especially at the base of the falls.  There were a few "non-public" waterfalls upstream from the marked trails.  It was neat to find those less travelled places.  The draw here was that it was a little cheaper, had plenty to do, and that great swimming hole!

As is our norm, the campsite was just home base for us as we did many day trips (the biggest draw for us).  In this case we visited Niagara, Letchworth State Park, and Watkins Glen State Park chasing waterfalls in each spot. 

Niagara was the main draw for obvious reasons.  It was a "bucket list" thing for me.  Seeing the falls in person made me stand in awe of the One who created it all!  Simply awe inspiring!  We did the Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, Discovery Center, the Aquarium, tons of pics and wet clothes.  It was only a day trip, so we left Stony Brook in the morning, drove about 2 hours.  So we only did the American side.  I would have enjoyed crossing the Rainbow Bridge on foot to get the Canadian perspective.  I would not have driven across because the traffic jam getting into the US customs/check point was ridiculous!  Plus, my kids don't have passports...  And ours have expired too...  In hindsight, I would not have done the Discovery Center or Aquarium (my kids would have rioted though  ;)) and done Old Fort Niagara instead.  We didn't have time in a day trip to add that onto everything else though.

Letchworth is constantly voted as one of the top state parks in the nation.  It's considered the "Grand Canyon" of the east coast.  And it definitely lived up to that billing.  No one's allowed in the water here, and for good reason.  The water can be swift and the falls are 70ish feet tall.  We hiked a few miles.  Saw dozens of waterfalls.  Did some fishing.  Learned a bit about the Seneca tribe.  The best part happened on a fluke.  We were at the nature center and I was flipping through a calendar looking through the pictures and saw a beautiful waterfall picture.  I asked the ranger where it was and he circled the general location on the map.  And off we went.  Those falls were on a side creek and were fun for the kids!  Plus no one was around.  Even on a packed Labor Day weekend.  Must be something only locals know about...

Watkins Glen was unique.  If Niagara is huge, Sony Brook is personal, and Letchworth is all-encompassing, then Watkins Glen was intensive.  The rock waters of the gorge were tight, so the waterfalls were more compact and active.

We probably saw 30-ish waterfalls during our travels!  All 5 of the kids thought this was the best vacation we've ever had!  Which was a great Daddy-moment for this guy!   ;D


[0] Message Index

Go to full version