One of the nicest state parks we’ve found anywhere in the country is the 14,000 acre Letchworth State Park.
Back in 2015, I was a judge in a contest run by USA Today. I was charged with making a list of the top state parks in America.
With my four fellow judges, we came up with a list of the Top 20. Then it was up to readers of USA Today to pick the best.
So when you stay here, know that you are in good company.
Often dubbed as “the Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park offers easily accessible and spectacular views of a deep, 600-foot gorge carved out of the limestone and sandstone shale by the Genesee River.
Millions of years of geological history can be observed in the rock formations exposed by erosion.
Pets are welcome at the park but are restricted to three loops of the campground. If you do bring a pet, make sure you have a copy of their rabies inoculation, as you won’t be allowed to register without.
The Best Things to Do at Letchworth State Park
Swimming pools, fishing areas, hiking trails, hot air ballooning, whitewater rafting, and canoeing by permit are just some of the additional attractions at Letchworth State Park.
The trails are well maintained and parallel the gorge. They take you right up close enough to the waterfalls that you are
cooled by the fine mist.
Learn About Seneca Indians
The region’s rich heritage of the Seneca Indians is well-documented in the park with displays. You can visit a restored Seneca Council House and the grave of Mary Jemison.
Mary was an American frontierswoman who was captured by the Seneca Indians while a teenager but later chose to remain a Seneca.
Go Hiking (a lot!)
Letchworth State Park has 66 miles of hiking trails and 20 main marked trails, all with trailheads along the main park road. So, there’s a lot of hiking to get in! The majority of our favorite hikes are along the southern end.
The park boasts a series of spectacular waterfalls, the three major ones called the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls.
They are located in the southern section of the park (about 10 miles down the park road from the campground).
You can drive down through these falls but there is also the Gorge Trail which travels parallel to the main park road.
At the Lower Falls you’ll walk down a series of stone steps on a half-mile trail to a stone footbridge where you can get a great view of the falls.
Continue down the footpath for additional views of the falls and the river gorge but watch out! It can get a little slippery with all the mist from the falls!
Next up, you’ll hit Inspiration Point which gives magnificent views of the Middle Falls, which is 250 feet across and drops 107 feet.
Further down you can get up closer to the Middle Falls. Pathways by the falls offer a variety of views from overlooks.
Keep an eye out for rainbows, as you can often find one or two in the mist.
Visit the Glen Iris Inn
Right next to the Middle Falls, you’ll find the Glen Iris Inn.
Formerly the country estate house of William Pryor Letchworth, the Inn is located atop a cliff overlooking the
The Glen Iris Inn makes for a great spot for a midday meal. If possible, snag a table on the outdoor patio.
Visit the William Pryor Letchworth Museum
Across the street from the Glen Iris Inn is the William Pryor Letchworth Museum. Call ahead to see if it is open.
The museum is a window into the fascinating history of Letchworth State Park and a tribute to the efforts of Mr. Letchworth to preserve that past for all to share and enjoy.
Displays include the story of William P. Letchworth, the history of the Genesee Valley, and the lives of the many groups of people who have lived there.
The Upper Falls are located less than a half mile further south from the Middle Falls. You can walk on the Gorge Trail
alongside the river to reach Upper Falls.
An active train trestle spans the gorge above the falls and carries trains over the 140-year-old Portageville bridge. Hikers are not allowed on the iron bridge.
Enjoy the Humphrey Nature Center
Between the Middle Falls and Inspiration Point is another interesting spot, the Humphrey Nature Center.
The Humphrey Nature Center has several interactive exhibits that highlight the plants, animals, geology, and river ecology of Letchworth State Park.
Outside you’ll find an outdoor classroom, butterfy garden, a bird observation station, and several trails leading out into the old growth forest. The center is open daily from 10am–5pm.
A full schedule of events is also offered each year within the park. They range from festivals to lectures, and guided walks.
We've written so much about this area!
Take a look at all the recent posts about this location right here — Adirondacks. Like, 7 Fun Things to Do Around Lake George (Adirondacks), RVing in the Adirondacks: Beautiful Lake Champlain & Ausable Chasm, Wild Center Adirondacks: A Delightful Stop for RVers, and RVing through the Adirondacks, Finger Lakes and Letchworth State Park.
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