Discover Watkins Glen State Park

Ready for an enchanting outdoor adventure? Watkins Glen State Park, nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of New York, is a nature lover’s paradise.

Have you ever wondered where you could find a blend of serenity, natural beauty, and adventure all in one place? Watkins Glen State Park is the answer. This stunning locale is known for its captivating gorge, which features 19 waterfalls—yes, nineteen! And that’s just the beginning. The park offers visitors ample opportunity to hike, take beautiful photos, and soak in the tranquil atmosphere.

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Top 3 Facts about Watkins Glen State Park

01

Waterfalls Galore

The park boasts 19 waterfalls along its trails, each with its own unique character and beauty. The most famous of these is the 60-foot-high Cavern Cascade, which pours over a rocky overhang, creating a mystical atmosphere within the gorge.

02

Ancient Geological History

Watkins Glen State Park is situated in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and is renowned for its stunning gorges and waterfalls. The park’s geological formations result from glaciers from the Ice Age, which carved out the deep and narrow gorge over thousands of years.

03

Gorge Depth

The gorge at Watkins Glen reaches depths of up to 400 feet, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring landscape that visitors can explore through its winding trails and staircases.

Where to Sleep

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1054 Grace River Road
Number of Guests 8
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 3
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Smoke detectors
$0.00 / day
sparkles New

JP Rest House

V262+C5P, Manikganj, Bangladesh
Number of Guests 4
Bathrooms 2
Bedrooms 4
Sq Footage 2,400
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Generator, Smoke detectors
$300.00 / day
sparkles New

Juniper Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$182.42 / day

Hemlock Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$194.14 / day

Greenash Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$182.42 / day

Camping and transportation in Watkins Glen State Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Watkins Glen State Park

Getting to Watkins Glen State Park is relatively straightforward, and here’s how:

  • By Car: If you’re driving, Watkins Glen State Park is easily accessible from major regional cities. It’s about a 4.5-hour drive from New York City, and from Buffalo, it’s approximately 2.5 hours. From Syracuse, it’s around a 2-hour drive. The park is located at 1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891. You can use GPS or a mapping app for precise directions.
  • By Bus: While there isn’t a direct bus route to Watkins Glen, you can take a bus to nearby cities like Ithaca or Elmira and then rent a car or arrange for a shuttle service to the park. Several bus companies operate routes to these cities from various locations in New York State.
  • By Train: There’s no direct train service to Watkins Glen, but you can take an Amtrak train to nearby cities like Syracuse or Rochester and then rent a car or arrange for alternate transportation to the park.
  • By Air: The nearest major airports to Watkins Glen are the Elmira/Corning Regional Airport (ELM) and the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport (ITH), both of which are approximately a 30-40 minute drive away. You can rent a car from the airport or use a rideshare service to reach the park.

    Where to Stay Near Watkins Glen State Park

    Several accommodation options are near Watkins Glen State Park, ranging from campgrounds to hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. Here are some options:

    • Watkins Glen State Park Campground: The park itself offers campsites for tents and RVs. It’s a popular choice for those who want to immerse themselves in nature and stay close to the park’s hiking trails and waterfalls. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak seasons.
    • Hotels and Motels: Several hotels and motels in Watkins Glen and the surrounding area offer a range of accommodations to suit different budgets and preferences. Some popular options include the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, the Watkins Glen Villager Motel, and the Longhouse Lodge Motel.
    • Vacation Rentals: Another option is to rent a vacation home or cabin near Watkins Glen. Websites like Lake list various properties ranging from cozy cottages to spacious lakeside retreats, providing flexibility and privacy for your stay.
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      Best Time to Go to Watkins Glen State Park

      Summer

      Summer

      Summer is the peak season at Watkins Glen State Park. The park experiences warm temperatures and longer daylight hours from June to August, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, picnicking, and swimming. The lush vegetation is in full bloom, creating a verdant backdrop for visitors to enjoy as they traverse the park’s winding trails and marvel at its cascading waterfalls. While summer can be busy, particularly on weekends and holidays, the park’s expansive grounds offer plenty of space for everyone to find their own slice of paradise.

      Winter

      Winter

      Spring

      Spring

      Spring is a beautiful time to visit Watkins Glen State Park, as the park bursts to life with vibrant colors and renewed energy. The park is adorned with fresh green foliage, blooming wildflowers, and rushing waterfalls fed by melting snow and spring rains from late April to early June. The moderate temperatures make it perfect for hiking the park’s trails and exploring its picturesque gorges. Spring also offers the opportunity to witness wildlife awakening, including songbirds, deer, and other native species, adding to the park’s natural charm.

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      Fall

      Must-See Attractions

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      Gorge Trail

      The Gorge Trail is the main attraction at Watkins Glen State Park, offering visitors a scenic journey through the park’s stunning gorge. This trail winds its way along the edge of the gorge, passing by 19 waterfalls, including the iconic Cavern Cascade and Rainbow Falls.

      Rainbow Bridge

      One of the park’s most iconic features, Rainbow Bridge, spans the gorge and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can walk across the bridge and admire the rushing water below while taking in the natural beauty of the gorge.

      Cavern Cascade

      Standing at 60 feet tall, Cavern Cascade is one of the tallest waterfalls in Watkins Glen State Park. Visitors can get up close to the waterfall by following the Gorge Trail, which passes directly beneath the cascading water, creating a magical and immersive experience.

      Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Watkins Glen State Park

      Plan Ahead

      Plan Ahead

      Before your visit, check the park’s website for any updates on trail conditions, closures, or special events. Consider visiting during weekdays or off-peak times to avoid crowds, especially during summer.

      Pack Appropriately

      Wear Comfortable Footwear

      The park’s trails can be rocky and uneven, so wear sturdy, comfortable shoes with good traction. Avoid open-toed shoes or sandals, as they may not provide adequate protection.

      Respect Wildlife

      Respect Wildlife

      The park’s trails can be rocky and uneven, so wear sturdy, comfortable shoes with good traction. Avoid open-toed shoes or sandals, as they may not provide adequate protection.

      Stay Informed

      Stay on Designated Trails

      For your safety and the preservation of the park’s natural beauty, stay on designated trails and obey any posted signs or warnings. Avoid climbing on rocks or venturing off-trail, as it can be dangerous and harmful to the environment.

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      Frequently Asked Questions about Watkins Glen State Park

      Yes, leashed pets are allowed in Watkins Glen State Park. However, they are not permitted on the Gorge Trail due to safety reasons. Pets are allowed on other trails and in designated picnic areas within the park.

      Watkins Glen is a hidden oasis in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, renowned for its scenic gorge hike and captivating waterfalls. It’s enjoyable for visitors of all ages.

      Walking through the park typically takes 2-4 hours, with the best time for a visit being early morning to enjoy the Gorge Trail fully.

      Comfortable hiking boots are recommended due to the 832 stone steps along the trail.

      The Central Cascade is the tallest waterfall in the park, plunging more than 60 feet.

      A $10 vehicle use fee applies for day-use access, with additional fees for shuttle services during peak seasons.

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