Located in eastern New York state, about 45 miles southwest of Rochester, Letchworth State Park is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” Straddling the Genesee River for 17 miles the park encompasses more than 14,000 acres of deep river canyon and dense woodlands. The area was purchased in 1859 by William Pryor Letchworth, who recognized its natural and scenic value. He then granted it to the state in 1906 to be preserved as a public park. The park’s main attraction is the three dramatic waterfalls on the Genesee, which pour over escarpments up to 100 feet high. In addition to the spectacular scenery, the park also offers year-round outdoor recreation, from hiking, fishing and birdwatching to a variety of snow play.
The large campground in Letchworth State Park makes a good basecamp for exploring the area’s many sights and recreation opportunities. It contains 270 tent, trailer and RV sites in eight separate loops. All sites have electrical hookups, and there are water spigots, restrooms with showers, recycling stations and a dump station available. Additional accommodations in the park include camping cabins and the Glen Iris Inn. Visitors also have access to several picnic areas and playgrounds, a swimming pool, sports fields, trout pond, a museum, and nature center. Campsite rates range from $24–$26/night, plus additional fees; cabin and lodge rates vary; reservations recommended.
The best way to see many of the park’s sights is to get out and walk, hike or bike on any of the 66 miles of multiuse trails that wind through the park, and vary in distance and difficulty. The waterfalls are best viewed along the 7-mile Gorge Trail. One of the more unique and exciting ways to see the park is by hot air balloon. Other activities in the park include paddling on the river, nature programs, guided walks, and interpretive exhibits. The park also offers some of the best birdwatching in the state. In winter, many of the park’s trails become snowshoe and cross-country ski routes, and a few are even open to snowmobiles, so no matter what time of year you visit, there’s a way to play outdoors.
Ranger Review: Men’s Rebel Stretch Shell Jacket at Letchworth State Park
I’ve visited Letchworth State Park, known as the Grand Canyon of the East, in the winter and the summer, but this is the first time in autumn and the first time camping. Although this very large state park is starkly beautiful, the campground is not as nice as other New York state parks we have recently been to. We were in the 600 loop, the farthest from the camp office and closest to the Genesee River (although we could not see it from our site). The sites on the outside of the 600 loop were larger and more private; most of them were pie-shaped and had many trees that provided ample separation. The sites on the inside of the loop were much smaller and less private. The bathrooms were reasonable but dated. The showers did not look very inviting and although I did not use them, I overheard someone comment they were the worst showers they had ever experienced!
I highly recommend the free tour of the Mt. Morris Dam on the other side of the river from the campground. The tour is interesting and lasts approximately one hour. Offered at 2 pm in the offseason and twice per day during the summer.
It rained almost the entire time we were there, so we didn’t take any long hikes. We did a short hike to the Lower Falls. The footbridge was closed for repairs when we were there. The Middle Falls and Upper Falls can be seen with very short walks. There is also a restaurant in the park which was ok but not fantastic
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, we tested the Men’s Rebel Stretch Shell Jacket by Red Ledge. The price of this jacket is much less than many other available brands, so we were interested in checking it out and ordered one for my husband.
- Affordable price
- Workmanship appears to be solid and of good quality.
- Seams are all sealed. Feels comfortable, although the material has a slightly rubbery feel
- Water beads up very well
- The waist is adjustable.
- The hood adjustment is a bit awkward
- There are no zippered air vents at the armpits
- The front Rapid entry zip pockets are designed to protect your cell phone from rain, but it makes it slightly awkward for slipping your hands in.
- Ordered size large because the sleeve length on the XL would have been too long, but this did not leave a lot of room for layering.
Although it is well made and a good value for the price, it is not as functional as my husband would have liked.
What an impressive, pristine, and maintained park and campground. A good trail system, plenty of overlooks, good facilities, restaurants and shops. It’s one of the better parks I’ve visited. Campground is standard but elevated by its context
Highly recommend going to the middle falls at night to see them lit up (when driving watch out for bears, deer, and raccoons). Many opportunities to hike as long or as little as you want, or just drive through and stop at the many viewpoints. The park has several spots to grab a bite to eat, and just outside the park is small town convenient for whatever you may need.
Wonderful park. The canyon was incredible, and lots of look out spots. The roads, and trails, and lookout points are all well constructed, and flow well. The scenery is remarkable, and there is a lot of informative boards, dedicated benches that provide a lot of interesting history and information. 10/10 would recommend.
We stayed in a cute cabin with running water, a stove, and a heater for cold nights! Outside we had a picnic table and a campfire pit. The park itself has amazing hiking with awesome views. Highly recommend!
My camping partner lost 3 hats here, the wild’ll blow ‘em right over the edge. Worth it. Went in mid-June and the weather was delightful. FRIENDLY and active wildlife near camp sites, store food properly. Went rafting, great scenery at lower part of canyon.
The park itself is beautiful but the campground gets so many visitors of all different experience levels that certain animals such as raccoons and skunks are all too comfortable scavenging the sites. When camping be sure to put all food items in a place such as your car so it does not attract these animals. Definitely DO NOT feed the raccoons like some nearby campers did unless you are willing to share your site.
This park is massive and beautiful! Great for fall hikes as well as camping
this place is one of the top in ny state as its a wooden wonderland for all to see
The campground at Letchworth State Park is a great place to stay while you explore the beauty of the gorge which is sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East. Yeah, you probably could call it that because it's a gorge with cliffs as high as 600 feet and there's not a lot of that in the East. However, I think it stands on its own as one of the most scenic areas in the eastern US and doesn't need that designation. You just need to accept that the western US has the lots of beautiful canyons and enjoy that Letchworth is different than those canyons. It has some breathtaking views, especially near the waterfalls.
The campground has 8 loops with about 35 to 50 sites per loop so it's a large campground. I like that it feels much smaller with all those loops, and the loops mean there is minimal traffic through each loop. You'll drive by the other loops but you don't really feel like you're in a large campground (although you may be able to see some sites from another loop behind your site).
Restrooms in 100, 200 and 700 loops are awesome! Check out the photo. They're very new. There are 4 private restrooms/showers and 4 private restrooms. There are well-maintained, older communal restrooms in the other loops.
Dumpster and recycling at loop entrances
Store/laundry, playground, recreation building, fitness zone behind rec bldg, and basketball courts are between the 200 and 300 loops.
Swimming pools…but I didn't see them.
No pull throughs but the gravel pads are long.
In general, the sites are partially shaded. The trees are quite tall so a significant amount of sun comes through. The sites on the outside of the loop are more shaded than the sites on the inside of the loops.
The 600 loop has a fence behind some sites because of the dropoff, but the dropoff doesn't start gradually.
You may have someone behind you (on another loop) if you are on the outside of a loop, but there are trees between the areas.
There are 5 loops with a total of more than 80 cabins.
Are You Bringing a Dog? Dogs are allowed on the 100, 200 and 700 loops, i.e. not on 300, 400, 500, 600 and 800.
Hike! There are about 20 trails. The gorge trail has great views of lower, middle and upper falls.
Check out the Glen Iris Inn for a meal
Rafting on the Genesee River
Hot air ballooning
The park is VERY crowded for the annual balloon rally (Memorial Day weekend) and the arts and crafts show (Columbus Day weekend).