Places to Camp Before the Kids Grow Up – Letchworth State Park


Letchworth State Park, “The Grand Canyon of the East,” is located 35 miles south of Rochester, NY and 55 miles east of Buffalo, along the Genesee River that cuts a deep canyon through the park. Recreation is where it’s at in Letchworth, with some 66 miles of hiking trails. Horseback riding, mountain biking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are also allowed in designated areas.

For the less adventurous set, the William Pryor Letchworth Museum offers insight into the Seneca culture and pioneer life in the Genesee Valley. Also of interest are the Council Grounds with the Seneca Council House and, on the east side of the park, the Parade Grounds, a Civil War camp featuring living history exhibits and battle re-enactments.

Middle Falls, Letchworth State Park

Middle Falls, Letchworth State Park

It’s the unique and diverse landscape that really makes Letchworth State Park one of the most scenic areas in the Northeast. The gorge at Middle Falls is some 550 feet deep and it is only 400 feet wide. At a bit over 100 feet, Middle Falls is the tallest of the three major waterfalls on the Genesee River, although all three a very impressive. There are a number of pictures of the three falls at Great Lakes Waterfalls & Beyond.

Portage Canyon, where the Lower, Middle and Upper Falls are located

Portage Canyon, where the Lower, Middle and Upper Falls are located

All of Letchworth State Park’s 270 campsites include electricity. In addition, there are some 80 cabins available. The campground areas include bathroom and shower facilities, with flush toilets and hot water. If you get tired of roughing it, there are several swimming pools, snack bars and two full-fledged restaurants in the park. Just remember, this is a 17-mile long park, so all of the sites and amenities are not necessarily within walking distance.

Westerners, like myself, tend to have a bias against the east coast when it comes to nature preserves and open spaces. But places like Letchworth State Park show the fallacy of that bias, proving that wherever you go in this great country, there are places every bit as magnificent as Yellowstone, Yosemite, or Zion.

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