The “Grand Canyon of the East”
Looking to be surrounded by Nature’s beauty? Looking for a great place to relax? Then Letchworth State Park camping is exactly what you need.
At Letchworth State Park you can go hiking, chase waterfalls, and camp at America’s most popular state park.
Letchworth is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”. This amazing park encompasses a 17-mile stretch of the Genesee River. The Genesee River flows over three major waterfalls and through a rocky gorge with steep walls nearly 600 feet high.
How to Get to Letchworth State Park, New York
Letchworth is located in Castile, New York. The park is 40 miles south of Rochester and 60 miles west of Buffalo.
In addition, it is easily located just 30 minutes from NYS Route 90 & NYS Route 86.
There are six main entrances to the park.
We arrived at the Mt. Morris entrance situated at the northern end of the park.
From here it is approximately a 6-mile drive to the campground. Of course, the waterfalls are at the south end of the park. Therefore, we eventually ended up driving the full length of the west side of the park.
Mount Morris Dam Overlook
As you travel from the Mt. Morris entrance to the campground you will pass the Mt Morris dam. This is the largest concrete dam east of the Mississippi.
You can park at the Mt. Morris dam overlook, and get your first views of the gorge and the Genesee River. In addition, there is also a small gift shop and takeout grill.
All the other attractions are south of the campground. Therefore, we recommend stopping at the Mt. Morris Dam overlook as you make way for the campground.
Letchworth State Park Camping Review
This is a huge state park to explore with over 60 miles of trails. In this massive park, there is one campground you can use as your base camp. The campground is large and can accommodate tents and RV’s
One thing that you must know is that cell service, and WiFi, are very sporadic inside the park. Of course, this was difficult for our teenage children! However, it didn’t take long for us to acclimate to the lack of service.
All campsites are able to accommodate up to 50′ RV’s. None of the sites offer water or septic. However, they do offer electric hookups. Fortunately, there is also a dump station when leaving the campground.
The sites themselves were not really large but decently sized for our needs. In addition, each site comes with a picnic table and a fire ring.
In addition, there is the camp store, complete with everything you need for cooking over the fire, starting a fire in the first place, hiking gear, and souvenirs. They also offer a small amount of food and drinks. Connected to the camp store is a laundromat.
Highbanks campground is made up of eight separate areas, or loops. Each loop has its own bathhouse. However, only some of the bathhouses have been recently upgraded. We stayed in the 600 loop and had an older bathhouse. Although it was not newly renovated it was clean and well maintained. We did find that the loops around the camp store did have newly renovated bathhouses.
We had a great time at the Highbanks Campground. If you are looking for a secluded campground, with amazing views, and miles of hiking trails then Letchworth State Park Camping is perfect.
We highly recommend spending a weekend, or more, camping in Letchworth State Park.
Things to Do During Your Stay
Go For a Hike
Letchworth has over 60 miles of hiking trails to explore. There are 20 unique, and well-marked, hiking trails throughout the park. We were pleased that all of the trails we hiked were very well marked.
Trail #1 the Gorge Trail
If you are looking to view the waterfalls and to walk an easy path, the Gorge trail is perfect. The Gorge Trail runs parallel to the park’s main road and leads to all the major waterfalls.
The Gorge Trail is 7 miles long one-way. Along the path are numerous overlooks that offer amazing views of the gorge, and waterfalls. However, if you don’t wish to hike the entire 14-mile round trip there are numerous parking lots along the trail.
Chase Amazing Waterfalls
Of all the things to do in Letchworth State Park, chasing waterfalls is often on the top of everyone’s list.
The Letchworth website reports that there are as many as fifty waterfalls that eventually flow into the gorge. However, the three massive falls on the Genesee River itself are the most famous.
The Lower Falls
Here you can take the 127-step Lower Falls Trail into the gorge for a full view of the falls. The trail also provides access to the east side of the park by way of a stone footbridge.
This will also put you onto the Gorge Trail. You can from here hike the 7-mile trail, and view the three main waterfalls.
The Middle Falls
At 107 feet, the Middle Falls are the highest in the park. You can enjoy expansive views of the falls from various levels and overlooks along the Gorge Trail
The Upper Falls
The Upper Falls are the most picturesque of the three main waterfalls. Similar to the Lower Falls it measures 70 feet high. The Upper Falls and the Genesee Arch Bridge are the most well-known symbol of Letchworth State Park.
There are a number of overlooks around the upper falls that allow great photo opportunities.
In addition, there is a large picnic area near the Upper Falls, and a small concession stand. This is a great place to sit down, grab a bite or cold drink, and get some amazing photos.
Take Photos Along the Overlooks
Stopping to enjoy the views along the Genesee Gorge is one of the best things to do in Letchworth State Park. The driving route along Park Rd. includes multiple overlooks with pullovers and parking areas guaranteeing to offer postcard vistas of the park’s natural features.
The two we would encourage most are the Archery Field Overlook, and the magnificent Inspiration Point Overlook.
Although we had heard great things about Letchworth State Park camping, we underestimated it. We booked a quick weekend trip thinking this is all we would need to enjoy our trip. Well, we were wrong. There is plenty to do here for the outdoors adventurer.
The campground is really simple but comfortable. Though there was no wifi, and poor cell service, we were able to enjoy ourselves. We definitely thought this was a great State Park and would recommend you add it to your places to see in the North East.
Letchworth State Park itself has a lot to offer and you could certainly spend a lot more time than a weekend here. There are a few small museums to check out. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to visit these museums.
If you are looking to see some of mother nature’s untouched beauty then Letchworth State Park Camping is a must-do.