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Guide to New York's Best State Parks

By Edited Jun 16, 2016 2 4

New York State is comprised of some of the most beautiful landscape in the United States. Each section of the state has its own attributes and the landscape itself is very diverse. From the northwest Niagara Falls to the southeast Long Island, there are many wonderful state parks to enjoy throughout New York; these are a few of my top picks.

Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara

What better attribute of a park can there be than the majestic and mighty Niagara Falls? Visitors to Niagara Falls can enjoy the beauty of the park and experience firsthand the spectacular views of the falls which can't be found anywhere else in the world.

A view of Niagara Falls in April 2014

Photo taken by me in April 2014

In the park there are also recreational areas, designated picnic spots and plenty of space to walk around and simply enjoy the pristine and one of kind views you can only see at the Falls. Anytime of the year is great to visit Niagara Falls State Park, but in my opinion, spring and summer are particularly favorable due to better weather, as the winter can get rather cold in this section of the state (last visit up there it was snowing in April).

Either way, no matter the season, you get beautiful views.

Fahnestock State Park, Putnam and Dutchess Counties

Nestled in the wooded acres of land of Putnam and Dutchess Counties is Fahnestock State Park. For decades families, tourists and locals have come to Fahnestock to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of this park. Conveniently located off the Taconic State Parkway, Fahnestock is home to much wildlife, hiking trails, lakes and even a few historical stone structures, stone walls and caves. Many avid hikers come to the park to walk the many trails and many visitors come just to camp. A great place for a family outing!

Pelton Pond located in Fahnestock state park Putnam county New York

By Tim1337 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0

Additionally, in the summer months is Canopus Lake where visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing or just simply enjoying the sand and sun. Other activities to take advantage of are fishing and boating. Another plus is there is plenty of parking throughout the different areas of the park so you can conveniently leave your car near the area of the park you want to visit.

Bear Mountain, Rockland County

This park destination, located in the lower portion in New York, borders the gorgeous Hudson River and offers a lot of recreation for visitors to indulge in throughout the year. In the warmer months Bear Mountain State Park offers swimming, boating, hiking, picnicking, playgrounds and more. In the winter there is also ice skating and skiing.

Bear Mountain State Park

Family outings at Bear Mountain State Park (Hessian Lake) in New York
(Image credit: Leigh Goessl)

One of my favorite things to do is visit the park's small zoo, which provides a home for rehabilitated wildlife or those animals that were abandoned in their youth and cannot survive on their own. The zoo is open year round and houses many local types of animals; a perennial favorite is the bear's den.  Bear Mountain Park also offers a small museum with local artifacts. This region played a large role in early American history and the museum showcases its role and history, along with even earlier history.

Remains of Fort Clinton located in Bear Mountain State Park

Remains of Fort Clinton can be seen in Bear Mountain Park (Photo credit: Leigh Goessl)

Bear Mountain has been a family-fun recreation spot for decades and, based on my last visit in Oct. 2014, remains very popular today. I try to visit at least once a year when I'm up that way.

Jones Beach and Robert Moses, Long Island

These two state parks are located in close proximity to one another and both contain spectacular ocean front parks. In the summertime, and even in "off season" months many New Yorkers flock to both Jones and Robert Moses beaches to enjoy the waves, sand and ocean breezes. Or to see a concert or other type of show. These beaches perhaps have some of the best waves in the northeast I've seen. When growing up my family spend a lot of time at these two beaches.

2009 Jones Beach Airshow

Air show at Jones Beach 2009 (Image credit: Gbleck/Public Domain)

New York State possesses a lot of beautiful and diversified scenery. Another one of my favorite regions is the Catskills Mountains. With these and so many other choices there truly is no shortage of places to visit when seeking out New York State Parks.



Aug 21, 2014 10:30am
I love your article and the pictures are great. Have you seen the publicity lately about Chestnut Ridge State Park, just outside of Buffalo, NY? There is an eternal flame there, coming out of the shale rock which burns from gases underneath. I just read a great article about it; it is getting a lot of visitors.
Aug 22, 2014 5:28pm
Hi Kellapat, thanks so much for visiting my article and for your kind comments. I am not familiar with this park, usually when I'm in Buffalo, we head into Canada or go to the American side of the falls. Thanks, I had not heard of this publicity, but will definitely look it up.
Aug 30, 2014 8:59am
Great pictures, you really make me want to visit these parks!!
Sep 1, 2014 3:11am
Thanks so much for visiting my article :). These parks are beautiful (Bear Mountain is a special place to me).
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  1. "Fahnestock State Park (Clarence Fahnestock)." New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. 2/08/2014 <Web >

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