Last Updated on September 2, 2020 by Lori
Love hiking, waterfalls, and beautiful views that you will remember for years to come? Then Letchworth State Park, in western New York state, should be on your list of Must-See adventures!
Voted the number one state park in the USA, and one of the Best State Parks in NY, Letchworth State Park has earned the nickname “The Grand Canyon Of The East.” Once you visit this magnificent park, you’ll know why!
Letchworth State Park has become one of our favorite RV travel destinations and I know you will love it too!
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LETCHWORTH STATE PARK, NY
Letchworth State Park is located in the northwest part of New York State. The park encompasses 14,000 acres and is 17 miles long following the Genesee River north towards Rochester and Lake Ontario through a gorge and over three main waterfalls – the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls.
There are four (4) entrances to the park near Mount Morris, Perry, Castille, and Portageville.
The park is 35 miles southwest of Rochester and 60 miles Southeast of Buffalo.
The map below shows you where Letchworth State Park is located in New York.
TOP MUST SEE THINGS IN LETCHWORTH STATE PARK
Dubbed The Grand Canyon of the East, once you see its beautiful views – you’ll see why!
The Genesee River roars through the gorge over three major waterfalls between cliffs–as high as 600 feet in some places–surrounded by lush forests
You can hike the Gorge Trail which will take you the entire distance of the park (7 miles), or you can drive through the winding road through the park and stop at well-marked parking areas which show you the most breath-taking views showing just how beautiful this state park is.
HIKING TRAILS IN LETCHWORTH STATE PARK
Well known for its hiking trails, there more than 66 miles of trails to hike in Letchworth State Park.
Whether you’re looking for a short hike (1/2 mile) or you want to hike the Gorge Trail (7 miles), Letchworth State Park offers amazing trails for the beginning or advanced hiker.
THE UPPER FALLS
Although you can camp inside the park, we decided to camp nearby at the Houghton-Letchworth KOA about 20 minutes from the Portageville entrance to the park.
We arrived at the park around 9 a.m. so there was plenty of parking available.
As we entered the Portageville entrance, we stopped at the parking lot just below the active railroad bridge. My husband even was able to see the train go over the bridge!
The Portage Viaduct is a “deck arch bridge” 963 feet long with an arch of 483 feet and 240 feet above the Upper Falls.
The bridge was amazing as were the views!
This is also the perfect spot to begin the Gorge Trail and to view the Upper Falls.
PARKING AT LETCHWORTH STATE PARK
The first day we didn’t hike down to view the Upper Falls opting instead to drive to the Glen Iris Inn to park.
Since it was early in the morning, there was ample parking available near the Inn as well as near the William Pryor Letchworth Museum – where we decided to park.
The restroom was just on the other side of the museum which was very convenient.
We headed towards the Inn where people were enjoying outdoor dining while listening to the sounds of the Middle Falls.
GLEN IRIS INN
The Glen Iris Inn was the former estate of William Pryor Letchworth.
The Inn serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as a picnic menu!
You can stay at the Glen Iris Inn in one of their guest rooms or you can stay at several lodges, cottages, and chalets in Letchworth State Park. Accommodations are available April – November 1st.
The Middle Falls is the highest of the three main falls with a 107 ft drop.
You can access the trail to the Middle Falls behind the Glen Iris Inn.
The falls are lighted at night, which I’m sure is a spectacular view!
After hiking all day, we did not return to the park at night to view the falls; however, when we inquired if we could come back, the person at the booth said you only needed to show your paid parking receipt.
Since it was over 100 degrees the day we visited, after viewing the Middle and Upper Falls, we decided to get back in the car and drive to the various overlooks.
Our next stop was the statue and cabin of Mary Jemison.
WHO WAS MARY JEMISON?
Mary Jemison was known as the “White Woman of the Genesee”. She lived in the area after being kidnapped at age 12 by the Senecas.
She then chose to live her life with them, marrying and having seven children.
Our next stop was at Inspiration Point. Here, you can see both the Upper and Middle waterfalls!
Our favorite hike in the park was the trail to see the Lower Falls!
It’s not an easy hike though! But well worth it!
Parking for the Lower Falls is easy! There is a large parking lot by the Lower Falls Restaurant and Lounge where the most popular thing on the menu was ice cream!
If you’re interested in whitewater rafting down the gorge, you will meet at the south pool house which is also located in this area.
After a safety talk, you will walk about 10 minutes to where they launch the rafts. The trip is 5 ½ miles of beautiful scenery and rapids.
For more information about cost, days, and times for whitewater rafting you can visit Adventure Calls Outfitters.
HOW TO GET TO THE LOWER FALLS
Walking from the parking lot just follow the signs to the Lower Falls. There are restrooms available, and picnic tables where you can have a picnic lunch either before or after your hike.
Following the signs, you will walk quite a distance until you see this sign:
There are 127 steps down to the Lower Falls.
And…The steps are steep.
Of course, Buddy led the way down the steps!
Here’s a view from the bottom of the stairs. We saw all ages going up and down the stairs; they just took their time!
Once you’re at the bottom of the stairs, you’re not finished yet! You’ll need to find the path that will lead you to the platform and bridge.
Believe me…it’s worth it.
After getting down to the platform, there are a few more stairs leading to the bridge where you will see awesome views of the Lower Falls.
Wolf Creek was one of our favorite areas of the park.
There is a cute bridge going over the creek and you just want to stop for a minute to enjoy the view.
The Gorge Trail takes you right into Wolf Creek. Here’s a photo of the awesome stairs leading down to Wolf Creek along the trail.
FYI – there is a very nice picnic area and bathroom facilities at Wolf Creek.
MOUNT MORRIS DAM
The Mount Morris Dam is at the other end of the park and is another popular entrance into the Letchworth State Park.
CAMPING AT LETCHWORTH STATE PARK
Camping is very popular at Letchworth State Park.
There are over 270+ campsites for tents and RVs as well as cabin rentals.
RV Sites have electric (50amp and 30 amp available) and water. There is a dump station at the park.
Tent sites have electric and water spigot.
You can reserve your campsite or cabin at reserveamerica.com
ARE DOGS ALLOWED AT LETCHWORTH STATE PARK?
Dogs are allowed on the trails on a leash. Our Golden Retriever loved the trails – especially all the steps going down and back up the Lower Falls.
The campground area allows two (2) dogs in certain areas of the campground and cabins. Check the New York State Parks website for more information.
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT LETCHWORTH STATE PARK
We have visited many state parks throughout our RV travels. But Letchworth State Park has some of the most beautiful views you will see in a state park.
If your family loves adventures, there’s 66 miles of hiking, whitewater rafting and if available, you may even be able to ride in a hot air balloon over the gorge!
It’s no wonder that Letchworth State Park was named one of the Best State Parks in New York and in the U.S.
Have you been to Letchworth State Park? What were some of your favorite places to see in the park
Let me know!