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Letchworth State Park New York: Why Discover This Secret

shows two people standing on a rock bridge in Letchworth State Park New York
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Tucked away in the city of Castille lies Letchworth State Park. Known as The Grand Canyon of the East, this park certainly lives up to its nickname. While everyone heads to Niagara Falls further north, this hidden gem boasts of its own beautiful waterfalls and far less crowds. In fact, here the Genesee River flows over three large waterfalls with some drops being 600 feet. In addition, the falls are surrounded by thick green forests and fields of wildflowers.

shows a field of wildflowers on the side of a mountain
Wildflowers on the side of the mountain

With that in mind, Letchworth State Park is open all year round. If you like hiking, you can trek among 66 miles, which are some of the best hiking trails in upstate New York. You can also go horse back riding or biking. In addition, the more adventurous can go kayaking, white water rafting or soar above the gorges in a hot air balloon. Plus you can take a dip in the swimming pool to cool off after a hike. During the summer you can go camping at one of the many campsites.

shows one of the waterfalls and the side of a gorge at Letchworth State Park New York
shows the old train brdge high above the falls at Letchworth State Park New York

Then in Autumn, watch the leaves change brilliant colors. Further, visit the Humphrey Nature Center and learn about geology, wildlife, and ecology of the park. Hunting is also permitted. Of course, you will need a permit. The website contains applications for hunting permits.

During the winter, Letchworth State Park offers additional activities. For example, try snow tubing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, or snowmobiling.

Meanwhile, to get your winter gear check out these hand picked links:

Accommodations at Letchworth State Park New York

Glen Iris Inn

Of course you will need a place to stay. Accommodations are available within the park at the Glen Iris Inn. Most are available between the months of April and November. However, cottages such as The Chalet House, The Stone Cottage, and Caroline’s Cottage are available all year.

Located at the Inn, Caroline’s Dining Room serves 3 meals per day. For dinner you will certainly want to start with an appetizer of Applewood Smoked Trout. On the other hand you may prefer New York Cheese Curds and Green Onions over French fries. Then explore entrees such as Shrimp Genesee or Fillet Mignon with black Hawaiian Sea Salt. Caroline’s also offers a picnic menu.

Maplewood Lodge

Meanwhile, if you want to visit in the winter you may want to stay at Maplewood Lodge. This lodge sleeps 8 and above all is located near the New York State snowmobile trail system. The lodge has a furnished kitchen, living room with fireplace, two bathrooms, three bedrooms as well as a full dining room. With that in mind, this is a great place to stay for a group or large family.

Parker’s Hideaway

Parker’s Hideaway was recently added and sleeps 6. It also connects to the NYS snowmobile trail system. The lodge has a working gas fireplace, kitchen, living room, breakfast nook, two bedrooms, plus two baths.

I chose these items to make preparing for a hike a bit easier:

History of Letchworth State Park

shows steps carved into the rock by the Civilian Conservation Corps at Letchworth State Park New York

NY State governor signed Letchworth into a state park in 1907. The land was a gift from a retired businessman William Pryor Letchworth. The Seneca called the area Valley of the 3 Falls. Likewise, millions of years of geology can be witnessed in the exposed rock formations. Further, the park documents the history of the Seneca with displays, a restored council house, as well as the grave of Mary Jemison, a white woman adopted and assimilated into Seneca culture.

During the Great Depression the Civilian Conservation Corp made improvements to the park. For example, they built steps going down the steep inclines.

President Roosevelt created the CCC on March 31st, 1933 as part of the Emergency Conservation Work Act. Additionally, this program provided jobs for over 3.5 million people between 1933 and 1942. Subsequently 3000 of these people worked at Letchworth State Park. To sum up, they created the trails, picnic areas, cabins and roads that we use today. In addition to Letchworth State Park, the CCC worked on many other parks around the nation. For instance, at Florida Caverns State Park the CCC excavated the caverns and made them safe for people to walk through.

This makes a great stop on a road trip through the many quaint upstate NY towns. You can check out Wyoming County for more great places to visit.

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Donna Emperador is a travel and food blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. She can be found on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

7 thoughts on “Letchworth State Park New York: Why Discover This Secret”

  1. New York State is a great spot for short trips for us – when the border is open. So great to know there is a place referred to as Grand Canyon of the East. Having visited Niagara Falls many times, I would love to see the waterfalls in Letchworth State Park. It must be fun to do snow tubing in the winter too. One year we will again head south of the border!

  2. The stone bridge in Letchworth State Park is so impressive! I want to photograph it, as also waterfalls. I have no idea about this place, but I add it to my bucket list when I visit New York. It’s definitely worth visiting. It’s a great guide to this hidden park, with so many useful tips!

  3. I never knew about the park, New York seemed like a crowded place to me, but your article showcased a different view. The park looks amazing, a nature lover like me can easily spend the whole day here. The bridges, flora, fauna, waterfall, it all makes a dream come true.

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