Are you looking for your next weekend getaway? A place where you can escape from the craziness of our fast-pace, modern-day lifestyles? A place to relax? Then look no further than Letchworth State Park. This seventeen-mile stretch within the finger lakes region of New York has been claimed to be the “Grand Canyon of the East.” From hiking and what to do to where to stay and when to visit, our guide is here to answer any and all questions you might have about planning your own trip to enter the beautiful world of Letchworth State Park.
When to Visit Letchworth State Park:
The park is open year-round from six am to eleven pm. This is great for those with busy schedules because you can plan your trip whenever it works best for you. However, it is important to look at what each season brings so you can choose the best time of year for what you are looking for.
Spring is a great time to visit. From late March to early June, the waterfalls inside the park tend to be at their fullest. This is due to the snow melting and adding water to the Genesse River. Spring is also the best time of year to visit if you are searching for wildflowers. While spring can be beautiful, it can also be a bit temperamental. Spring in Letchworth State Park often bring rainstorms and high winds.
Summer is the busiest time of year to visit. With children out of school and families taking their vacations during the months of June, July, and August accommodations can fill up quickly. The best way to combat these crowds is to plan ahead and make all needed accommodations in plenty of advance notice.
Fall is our personal favorite time of year to visit. Letchworth State Park is a lot calmer during the fall with the summer rush come and gone. From late September to early November, you also have to chance of spotting fall foliage. The array of orange, yellow, and red hues is truly something to be seen.
While the park is open during the winter, most of the roads and the trails close due to dangerous/ icy conditions. This is definitely the least crowded time to visit, but because of this many of the nearby accommodations close. Here you can check the status of any roads and trails in Letchworth State Park. We highly recommend going another time of year.
How to get to Letchworth State Park:
There are six different entrances to the Letchworth State Park. These entrances can easily be divided into those to the east side of the Genesee River and those on the west. It is important to consider what entrance you are going to take for there are no roads connecting the east side to the west side of the park. This means that you would have to exit the park and go around the entire perimeter of the park to reenter on the other side.
We recommend using any of the entrances found on the west side of Letchworth State Park. These entrances are The Main Entrance, Parade Grounds Entrance, Castlie Entrance, and Portageville Entrance. The West side of the park has the most popular viewpoints, hikes, and has all of the amenities. While there are a few hiking trails on the east side it is mostly undeveloped.
The two closest airports are in Rochester and Buffalo. Both of these airports have rental car services. Having a car is a must for visiting this beautiful park.
- Rochester, New York: 44 miles, 45-minute drive
- Buffalo, New York: 58 miles, 1-hour 10-minute drive
- Syracuse, New York: 115 miles, 1-hour 47-minute drive
Entrance Fee for Letchworth State Park:
There is a $10 per vehicle fee on the west side entrances. The east side entrances of Letchworth State Park are free to enter, but just remember that the two sides do not connect inside the park. Another option is to purchase the Empire Passport. This annual pass lets you into most of New York’s state parks.
How Long to Stay:
We recommend spending at least a full day at Letchworth State Park. If you have more time, three days would give you the opportunity to explore the park in more depth and at a more leisurely pace.
What to do:
Letchworth State Park Hiking: Hiking is one of our favorite ways to get out and explore and area. With over sixty miles of hiking trails, varying in length, difficulty, and elevation change, there is sure to be something for everybody in Letchworth State Park.
Upper Falls: With the Portage Bridge crossing over the 71-foot tall waterfall, this is one of the most picturesque views in the entire park.
Middle Falls: Within walking distance of the upper falls and at 101 feet, this is the tallest waterfall within the park. If you come on a sunny afternoon, you might be lucky enough to see the rainbow that reflects off the water.
Lower Falls: Of the three falls, this is the most difficult to reach. But it is oh so worth it! This beautiful waterfall is a 70-foot drop and is a must-see during your visit.
Letchworth State Park Visitor Center: The visitor center is found off the main road between the Middle and Lower Falls. This is a great area to stop for a break with restrooms and concessions.
Humphery Nature System: Open from 10 am to 5 pm, you can stop by here to learn about the geology and biology of the park.
Mount Morris Dam: During the 1950s, a dam was created to help prevent and control flooding in nearby areas. On the east side of the river, there is an exhibition that describes the process of making and maintaining a dam. There are also free guided walkthroughs that take you through the structure of the dam. There is a pull-off on the west side of the river. While you are unable to access the dam from here, you can see it from afar.
White Water Rafting: At Adventure Calls, you can experience the power of the Genesse River first hand by getting your blood pumping and your adrenaline running by going white water rafting.
Hot Air Balloon Rides: If you want a unique Letchworth experience take flight and see the park from a birds-eye-view with Balloons Over Letchworth.
- Niagra Falls
- Glen Watson State Park
- Silver Lake State Park
Where to stay in Letchworth State Park:
Lodging: Glen Iris Inn: What was once a country estate has been turned into a quaint inn. Found within the park and only steps away from Middle Falls this location can’t be beaten.
Camping: Letchworth Campgrounds: Perfect for RV and tent campers alike these campgrounds are just what you need for a relaxing weekend in nature.
Tips for visiting Letchworth State Park:
Wear plenty of bug spray:
This area is notorious for ticks and ticks can carry harmful diseases such as Lyme disease. Make sure to spray any exposed skin and remove any bugs that may be on you, your clothes, or belongings after every hike.
Cell phone service is spotty throughout the park. We suggest making a plan in advance and saving it on your phone so you can have access to it regardless of the connection.
Dogs are allowed:
While dogs are allowed in the park, please make sure to follow the park’s rules and guidelines for bringing your pets. All dogs must be on a leash. Dogs must remain outside and are not allowed in any buildings. Owners are responsible for picking up after their dog’s waste.
FOLLOW THE LEAVE NO TRACE PRINCIPLES:
Keeping our parks clean is so important. By following the Leave No Trace Principles you can do your part to protect our lands and wildlife. A great rule of thumb is to always leave it better than you found it. By staying on all hiking trails, picking up after yourself, and taking out any found trash, you can help keep Letchworth State Park a beautiful place for future visitors.
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