Home to many of America’s most renowned sparkling lakes and craggy gorges, New York boasts not only the serene landscapes and the bubbling Buttermilk Creek but also the phenomenal Niagara Falls. Set in the northeastern United States, New York is a place that has long captured people’s attention globally.
Apart from the high-flying business tycoons, classy restaurants, and flashy Broadway performances, New York’s high ranking has also been attributed to its world-class recreational centers and national parks that protect a plethora of astounding scenery and nature. The government created state and national parks in New York to protect the environment, and lots of archeological sites spread throughout the region.
With so many amazing things to check out and different outdoor activities to explore, New York is truly one of the best and most breathtaking places to visit. Choose which place to visit first with our list of the ten best state and national parks in New York.
1. The Adirondack Park
|The Adirondack Park|
|Animals to See||Black bears, White-tailed deer, Moose, Bobcats, and Foxes|
|Attractions to See||Mirror Lake, Bald Mountain, Gore Mountain, The Wild Centre, Lake Placid, Adirondack Carousel, and the Olympic Ski Jump Complex|
One of the largest protected parks on this list, the Adirondack Park, is located in Warren County, in the northeastern part of New York. It offers incredible views of the forested mountains, pristine lakes, and mind-blowing waterfalls.
The Adirondack Park is one of the best places to be, especially if you’re looking to enjoy a range of activities in nature. The park features massive hiking trails through forested areas that lead to the spectacular scenery of the surroundings.
Strolling along Saranac Lake, inhaling the sweet scent of the park’s lush forest, snowboarding at Whiteface Mountain, exploring the gorgeous landscapes of Fort Ticonderoga, and riding gondolas at the Olympic Ski Jump Complex will help you forget about your work life – at least for a little while.
Look out for the Wild Centre. It’s a perfect place to take the kids to learn and have fun in nature. You can do activities like walking up through the suspension bridges and even playing in nets. There is a chance you might spot white-tailed deer and other animals around this area.
2. Niagara Falls
|Location||Northwest of New York along the US/Canadian Border|
|Animals to See||Fox Squirrels, Canvasbacks, Red Squirrels, Warblers, Deer, Elks, Black Bears, and the Nineteen Species of Gulls|
|Attractions to See||Niagara Gorge Discovery Centre, Cave of the Winds, the Hurricane Deck, and the Aquarium of Niagara|
Home to the most impressive falls and awe-inspiring cliffs in the world, Niagara Falls, formed by the Niagara River, is a magnificent sight that is hard to tear your eyes from. You can view the falls right up close in the spray or from the Inspiration Point. Aside from getting soaked up in the gushing water, there are many other things to do at Niagara Falls.
The surrounding area of Niagara Falls offers breathtaking views, gorgeous landscapes, historical exhibits, and multiple attractions, making it a perfect destination for your vacation. You can take some of the available sight-seeing tours, such as Maid of the Mist, to get a different close-up experience of the falls and their surroundings.
Get all the information, tickets, and maps about the different attractions at Niagara Falls. Spend a night at the falls to enjoy the fireworks often presented throughout the year.
3. Robert H. Treman State Park
|Robert H. Treman State Park|
|Location||Finger Lake Region|
|Animals to See||Deer, Foxes, Bears, and numerous species of birds and fishes|
|Attractions to See||Enfield Glen, Suspension Bridge, Lucifer Falls, Ithaca Falls, and Cascadilla Gorge Trail|
With winding trails following the rugged gorge past the 12 waterfalls, Robert H. Treman State Park is a beauty to behold. Whether you want to have fun on land, in the dense forests, mountains, or water, Robert H. Treman is the place to be. It’s safe to hike at the park, but there are stairs, and uphill/downhill walks within the area.
Hike the Gorge Loop Trail and the main Rim Trail, and enjoy the spectacular views of the rocky gorges and wooded sections. The Gorge Trail will also take you through the unbeatable views of the giant waterfalls and wildlife.
Check out the scenic Enfield Falls swimming hole, one of the most popular attractions at the park, because it offers a limitless number of fun possibilities. It’s highly crowded throughout the year, but still, you’ll enjoy a peaceful swimming experience in nature.
4. Letchworth State Park
|Letchworth State Park|
|Location||Spans two counties (Wyoming and Livingston)|
|Animals to See||Coyotes, Cerulean Warblers, Woodchucks, Bald Eagles, White-tailed Deer, Red Fox, and Henslow’s Sparrows|
|Attractions to See||Genesee River, Railway Bridge, Charcoal Corral, Silver Lake Drive-In Theatre, and Mount Morris Dam|
Best known as “the Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park is one of the most popular attractions in New York, with more than 50 waterfalls to explore. Home to the most scenic and magnificent areas, it’s sure to delight outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers who need real adventure.
Walk to the West Rim to get some of the best views of Letchworth. Hogsback Overlook and Mt. Morris Dam are also other places to consider, more so if you’re entering the park from the north. Archery Field Overlooks and Great Bend are some of the popular sites for photographers.
Make sure you visit the Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Falls. They are the most impressive falls in the park, and you will most likely hear the thundering sounds of the water even before you see them. Early spring is the best time to see the falls at their best.
5. Rockefeller State Park Preserve
|Rockefeller State Park Preserve|
|Animals to See||Raccoons, Owls, Coyotes, Muskrats, Foxes, and Deer|
|Attractions to See||Peony Monument, Hudson River, Rockefeller Art Gallery, Carriage Road System, and Swan Lake|
Talk about an epic getaway! Rockefeller State Park Preserve is a perfect place to relax and enjoy outdoor activities. The park is named after the famous Rockefeller family, who donated some portions of the estate in Pocantico Hills as part of the Preserve land in 1983. There are several miles of trails and different wildlife species to explore at Rockefeller.
Hike the 13 Bridges Loop Trail, which takes you through open meadows, beautiful dense forests, picturesque landscapes, and fascinating views of Swan Lake. You can view the Hudson River from the carriage road system, one of the most remarkable features of the park.
6. Hudson River Valley
|Hudson River Valley|
|Location||Westchester County to Albany|
|Animals to See||Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle, Humpback Whale, Seahorse, and Diamondback Terrapin|
|Attractions to See||Walkway Over the Hudson, New York State Museum, Lyndhurst Mansion, Shawangunk Ridge, Mohonk Mountain House, and Storm King Art Centre|
Stretching about 150 miles along the famous Hudson River, the Hudson River Valley is a perfect place to enjoy a city break. Along with the unbeatable vistas, the Hudson Valley is full of quirky villages, animal sanctuaries, historic sites, mansions, pristine lakes, cultural institutions, and mountain ranges.
Visit the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park between spring and fall to get spectacular views of the river and some fresh air. You can also enjoy the views of villages along the river banks from this steel cantilever bridge.
There is no better place for history buffs to visit other than the New York State Museum, situated in the Hudson River Valley. The museum showcases lots of history programs, science, art, nature, exhibitions, and collections from the state throughout the years.
7. Gantry Plaza State Park
|Gantry Plaza State Park|
|Location||Long Island City|
|Animals to See||Different species of birds|
|Attractions to See||Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre, Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, The Plaza- A Fairmont Managed Hotel, The Museum of Modern Art|
Brimming with natural beauty in Long Island City, in the New York suburbs, Gantry Plaza State Park is the place to visit for a relaxing and refreshing getaway. There are plenty of attractions to explore, like Times Square and the Empire State Building. Gantry Plaza also offers wonderful places for dog walks and romantic strolls. There are also numerous playgrounds for kids to play on.
You can visit the Museum of Modern Art to learn about the use of modern and contemporary art. Aside from the sweet scent you will get from the park’s gardens, there are no animals or massive waterfalls to view. However, there are hundreds of birds hovering above the skies. You may catch sight of eastern bluebirds and blue jays, among others.
8. Catskill State Park
|Catskill State Park|
|Location||Spans four counties: Delaware, Sullivan, Ulster, and Greene|
|Animals to See||Turtles, Raccoons, Coyotes, Foxes, and White-tailed Deer|
|Attractions to See||Bethel Woods Centre for the Arts, Bronck Museum, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Zoom Flume Water Park, and Hudson-Athens Lighthouse|
A spectacular highlight established in 1885, Catskill State Park is among the best places to visit any time of the year. At Catskill State Park, you can expect to see lush forests, legendary mountains, lakes, wetlands, meadows, and more.
Visit some of the antique and art galleries in the villages, such as Woodstock, Phoenicia, and the Andes, to admire the contemporary arts’ great sense of calm and wholeness. Explore some of the most popular wildlife trails like Huckleberry Point Trail, Artist Rock, and Sunset Rock via the Escarpment Trail to see different species of animals within the park.
9. Buttermilk State Park Falls
|Buttermilk State Park Falls|
|Location||Southwest of Ithaca|
|Animals to See||Turkey, Broad-Winged Hawks, Coyotes, Flying Squirrels, Chipmunks, Opossums, Raccoons, Cottontail Rabbits, and Woodpeckers|
|Attractions to See||Finger Lakes, Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail, and Ithaca Falls Natural Area|
Visit Buttermilk State Park Falls if you’re a fan of waterfalls. The park is named after the massive waterfall that flows through the deep valleys, rock rims, and forests within the park’s borders. Besides camping, you can do all the other activities in the park in a single day if you arrive early.
Hike the Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail and Rim Trail to see the main attractions in the shortest time possible. These trails are also among the best bets for wildlife encounters in the park. There is a campground near Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail if you’re someone who enjoys spending a night in the wilderness.
10. Minnewaska State Park Preserve
|Minnewaska State Park Preserve|
|Animals to See||Coyotes, White-tailed Deer, Dragonflies, Turkey Vultures, Black-Pilled Cuckoos, and Timber Rattlesnake|
|Attractions to See||Shawangunk Mountain Range and Lake Minnewaska|
No matter the season, there’s always something to do at Minnewaska State Park Preserve. It’s one of the most unique and beautiful parks with diverse features like verdant hardwood forests, cliff-edges, crystalline sky lakes, rugged rocky terrains, and waterfalls.
Explore different outdoor activities, including boating, horseback riding, scuba diving, hiking, picnicking, biking, bouldering, and marvel at the park’s magnificent scenery from different viewpoints. Cross-country skiing and snowboarding along the mountain ranges are also available during the winter.
Enjoy a wonderful camping experience by spending a night at Shawangunk Gateway Campgrounds. You will be able to have the most memorable camping experience, judging from the peaceful ambiance of the campground.
Summary of the 10 Best National Parks in New York
|1||Adirondack Park||5,999,965 Acres||Black bears, White-tailed deer, Moose, Bobcats, and Foxes||Hiking, snowboarding|
|2||Niagara Falls||400 Acres||Fox Squirrels, Red Squirrels, Deer, Elk, Black Bears, and Gulls||Sight-seeing tours|
|3||Robert H. Treman State Park||1,110 Acres||Deer, Foxes, Bears, birds, and fishes||Hiking, swimming|
|4||Letchworth State Park||14,427 Acres||Coyotes, , Bald Eagles, White-tailed Deer, Red Fox||Hiking|
|5||Rockefeller State Park Preserve||1,775 Acres||Raccoons, Owls, Coyotes, Muskrats, Foxes, and Deer||Hiking|
|6||Hudson River Valley||46,258 Acres||Peregrine Falcons, Bald Eagles, Humpback Whales||Sightseeing, museum visits|
|7||Gantry Plaza State Park||12 Acres||Different species of birds||Sightseeing, dog walks, kids’ playgrounds, museum visits|
|8||Catskill State Park||700,000 Acres||Turtles, Raccoons, Coyotes, Foxes, and White-tailed Deer||Hiking, art gallery visits|
|9||Buttermilk State Park Falls||811 Acres||Broad-Winged Hawks, Flying Squirrels, and Woodpeckers||Hiking and camping|
|10||Minnewaska State Park Preserve||24,000 Acres||White-tailed Deer, Turkey Vultures, Black-Pilled Cuckoos||Boating, horseback riding, scuba diving, hiking, picnicking, biking, bouldering,|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jim Vallee/Shutterstock.com
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