Where Is the ‘Grand Canyon of the East’?

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You can’t capture the majesty of the Grand Canyon in a photo or painting.

But if you can’t go to the Southwest this camping season, there’s another beautiful natural wonder in the Northeast. The Grand Canyon of the East is located in New York and welcomes photographers, nature enthusiasts, and adventures year after year. 

Let’s learn more about why you should plan a visit to the Grand Canyon of the East!

What Is the Grand Canyon of the East?

Letchworth State Park in Castile, N.Y., is fondly known as the Grand Canyon of the East. Like many state parks in the Northeast, it has trails for horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.

In 2015, Letchworth State Park won the USA TODAY Readers’ Choice Award for Best State Park in the United States.

The spectacular scenery features towering cliffs rising up to 600 feet in some places, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls as the Genesee River flows through the gorge.

Why Is It Called the Grand Canyon of the East?

The Genesee River has carved a huge gorge through this region like the Colorado River has done in the Southwest over millions of years.

The cliffs of Letchworth State Park may not rival the mile-deep canyon in Arizona, but they still rise 600 feet.

A drive along Park Road provides spectacular views and overlooks of the gorge and river. Additionally, you can see three major waterfalls in Letchworth State Park. Inspiration Falls, the highest waterfall in New York, drops 350 feet.

How Do You Get to the Grand Canyon of the East?

The Grand Canyon of the East is about a five-hour drive from New York City. It lies about an hour from Rochester and Buffalo, just east of the Finger Lakes region. 

Letchworth State Park has several entrances. When traveling from the north, the Mt. Morris entrance sits just off Highway 36. The southern entrance is located off Highway 19A in Portageville.

What Can You Do at Letchworth State Park?

Hot air ballooning is one of the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon of the East. Balloons Over Letchworth is the only balloon company that operates in the park. They provide rides from May through October.

The state park has 66 miles of trails for horseback riding, biking, hiking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. Additionally, many visitors enjoy whitewater rafting and kayaking. During the winter, guests can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snow tubing.

The historic Glen Iris Inn has rooms available if you want to stay overnight. You can also grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner here. 

Finally, visitors can enjoy the programs and interactive exhibits at the Humphrey Nature Center. The center offers year-round environmental education opportunities focusing on geology, wildlife, and botany.

Can You Camp at Letchworth State Park?

Staying overnight gives you plenty of time to explore the Grand Canyon of the East.

You can stay in cabins, cottages, and campsites within the park. You can make reservations up to nine months in advance. The nightly rate varies from $27 to $30, with an additional out-of-state resident fee of $5.

The campsites have 30/50 electric hookups but no water or sewer. However, you can use the dump station. The campground is also pet-friendly and can accommodate RVs of any size. 

But enter through the Perry entrance on Schenck Road since this is where the campgrounds are located.

Keep in Mind: Looking to visit a few National Parks in the Northeast? Then you need to add these National Parks to your itinerary!

Things to Know Before Visiting Letchworth State Park

Here are some things to know before visiting the Grand Canyon of the East. The entrance fee to Letchworth State Park costs $10 per vehicle.

The museum is free but accepts donations. The requested amount is $1 per adult, $0.50 per child, and $3 per family. The park opens from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Furthermore, the swimming season at Highbanks Recreation Center only runs from late June to Labor Day. You can swim from Monday to Friday between 11 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. Or enjoy extended hours on the weekend from 11 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.

Because Letchworth State Park has miles and miles of trails, you’ll find hikes for all types of adventurers. All are rated easy or moderate and range from a half mile to 7 miles. You can hike all the trails, but only some allow horses, bikes, or snowmobiles.

How Many State Parks Does New York Have?

New York has 180 state parks, including beaches, golf courses, hiking trails, and more outdoor recreational activities. 

Visitors can go ice fishing at Cayuga Lake State Park, paddle boarding at Heckscher State Park, and boating at Beaver Island State Park. 

Visit Niagara Falls State Park and witness the breathtaking power of the falls or relax on the shores of Lake Champlain at Cumberland Bay State Park. Either way, you’ll find plenty of things to do and beautiful scenery to breathe in.

Keep in Mind: This might surprise you, but there are some State Parks that Are Better Than Most National Parks!

Is Visiting the Grand Canyon of the East Worth It?

The Grand Canyon of the East doesn’t compare to the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

But that doesn’t mean you should skip it. Letchworth State Park offers beautiful landscapes, with the Genesee River meandering through the gorge’s steep cliffs.

But the state park also offers more than just waterfalls and rapids. Whether you want to spend the day hiking or book a hot air balloon ride, go explore the magnificence of the Grand Canyon of the East.

Will you venture to the Northeast this camping season?

1 comment
  1. King’s Canyon in California is also a beautiful place to visit that many don’t know about.

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