Chimney Bluffs State Park lake cover

49 New York State Parks Within a Two-Hour Drive of Rochester

If you visit multiple New York State Parks in one day, you only pay admission at the first park. Keep your receipt and show it at each new park that day for free entry. Or, stop at a Monroe County Library and borrow an Empire Pass which entitles you to free entry at most parks.

Fees noted below for the New York State Parks are subject to change. Season dates are from 2021; use them as a general planning guide. Please check each park’s website for the most current trail and pricing information.

Finger Lakes Region

Buttermilk Falls State Park swimming
Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls

$9 vehicle entry fee collected 4/1 – 11/30 from 6am to 6:30pm daily

The upper park has a small lake, hiking trails through woodlands and along the gorge and rim, picnic areas and playing fields. The lower park has a campground, natural pool and playing fields, beyond which is Larch Meadows. Larch Meadows is a wetland area through which a nature trail winds.

Buttermilk Falls State Park

In Buttermilk Falls State Park, like most of the Finger Lakes gorge parks, stairs are the primary walkway along Buttermilk Creek; challenging but worth it!

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Day Trips Around Rochester New York Book Cover

Day Trips Around Rochester, New York: The Book!

paperback • ebook • audiobook

Cayuga Lake State Park Swing
Cayuga Lake State Park

Cayuga Lake

$7 vehicle entry fee collected:

  • 5/23 – 6/14, 9am – 6pm, weekends & holidays
  • 6/20- 9/7, 10am – 6pm weekdays, 9 AM – 6 PM weekends & holidays
  • 9/12 – 10/12, 9am – 6pm, weekends & holidays

The scenic highlight of the park is its expansive view of Cayuga Lake. A variety of aquatic activities from swimming to fishing as well as its many campsites and cabins.

New York State Parks: Chimney Bluffs State Park
Chimney Bluffs State Park

Chimney Bluffs

$5 vehicle entry fee collected 4/1 – 10/31 Daily (All Day)

The most dramatic landscape on the Lake Ontario shore. Experience the massive earthen spires while enjoying the park’s lake shore nature trails. Explore them from above and below.

Chimney Bluffs State Park

The bluffs in Chimney Bluffs State Park are fragile drumlins, like all of the truncated drumlins along this section of shoreline.

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Fair Haven swimming beach
Fair Haven Beach

Fair Haven Beach

$9 vehicle entry fee collected:

4/1 – 10/31 Daily (All Day)

One of the finest public lakefronts in upstate New York, with towering shoreline bluffs, sandy beaches and adjoining hilly woodlands.

Fillmore Glen bridge over creek bed
Fillmore Glen State Park

Fillmore Glen

$8 vehicle entry fee collected:

  • 5/5 – 6/16: 9am – 6pm, weekends & holidays
  • 6/17 – 9/2: 9am – 6pm, daily
  • 9/7 – 10/13: 9am – 6pm, weekends & holidays

An oasis of cool, dense woods crowding into a long, narrow gorge. Explore its unique geological formations, five waterfalls, and a botanically rich glen.

Honeoye Lake from Harriet Hollister
Honeoye Lake from Harriet Hollister

Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area

No entry or parking fees.

One of the most striking scenic views in the Finger Lakes Region.

Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area

Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area is a New York State Park located in the hills six miles south of Honeoye Lake.

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New York State Parks: Keuka Lake
Keuka Lake State Park

Keuka Lake

$7 vehicle entry fee collected 5/1 – 10/31: 9am – 5pm daily

Views of vineyard-covered slopes, glimmering water and clear blue sky provide a backdrop for a variety of outdoor activities.

Long Point

$7 vehicle entry fee collected:

  • 5/5 – 6/23: 8am – 6pm, weekends & holidays
  • 6/24- 9/2: 8am – 6pm, daily
  • 9/3 – 10/14: 8am – 6pm, weekends & holidays

Located on the shore of Cayuga Lake the park provides boat launch facilities, a beach with swimming area, picnic areas, and fishing access.

Newtown Battlefield

No entrance fees charged.

A pristine granite monument marks the site of the 1779 hillside battle between The Continental Army and British regulars, Loyalist rangers and 1000 Hodinöhsö:ni’ warriors.


No entrance fees charged.

Pinnacle State Park has breathtaking views and tremendous vistas, including the Canisteo River Valley, Harris Hill and the village of Addison.

New York State Parks: Robert H Treman State Park
Robert H Treman State Park

Robert H. Treman

$9 vehicle entry fee collected 4/1 – 11/30 from 6am to 6:30pm daily

An area of wild beauty, with the rugged Enfield Glen gorge as its scenic highlight scattered with 12 waterfalls, including the 115-foot Lucifer Falls.

New York State Parks: Sampson State Park
Sampson State Park


Entry fee is not listed on website as of April 2021 so it’s not clear whether it’s missing of they’ve omitted it. In 2018, $7 vehicle entry fee collected:

  • 5/20 – 6/16: weekends and holidays only: 6 AM – 4 AM
  • 6/17 – 9/4: 8 AM – 4 PM Monday – Thursday, 7 AM – 4 PM Friday-Sunday

Located on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, Sampson was once a military training base before becoming an area of grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and trees on flat, rolling woodlands surrounding ravines.

Seneca Lake State Park
Seneca Lake State Park

Seneca Lake

$8 vehicle entry fee collected:

  • 5/12 – 6/10: 10 AM – 6 PM, weekends & holidays
  • 6/16 – 9/3: 8 AM – 6 PM, daily
  • 9/8 – 10/8: 10 AM – 6 PM, weekends & holidays

The banks of the blue water of Seneca Lake create a relaxing experience for swimmers and picnickers. Children will be delighted with our Sprayground and Playground facilities.

Stony Brook State Park
Stony Brook

Stony Brook

$9 vehicle entry fee collected:

  • 5/1 – 6/20 from 9am – 5pm, weekends & holidays
  • 6/26 – 9/6 from 10am – 6pm, Monday-Friday, 8am – 6pm, weekends & holidays
  • 9/11 – 10/11 from 9am – 5pm, weekends & holidays

Hilly woodlands, a deep gorge with rugged cliffs, three waterfalls and fascinating rock formations comprise the park offering camping, hiking and swimming in a stream-fed pool.

Stony Brook State Park

The walkway through Stony Brook State Park is a combo of shale, gravel, and stairs alongside waterfalls, similar to the other gorge parks.

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Taughannock Falls State Park bridge
Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls

$9 vehicle entry fee collected:

  • 4/27 – 5/26: 6 AM – 6 PM, weekends & holidays
  • 5/27 – 9/2: 6 AM – 6 PM, daily
  • 9/3 – 10/20: 6 AM – 6, weekends & holidays

215 foot namesake waterfall is one of the outstanding natural attractions of the Northeast. Trails offer spectacular views from above and below the breathtaking falls.

Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls’s 0.75-mile hard-packed gravel gorge trail leads to the base of the falls and is open year-round.

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Watkins Glen
Rainbow Falls

Watkins Glen

$10 vehicle entry fee collected mid-May to mid-October, sunrise to sunset

Within two miles, the glen’s stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course.

Explore Watkins Glen

The heart of the village of Watkins Glen is the 1.5-mile-long gorge, a truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring showcase of nature’s beauty.

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Genesee Region

Darien Lakes State Park kayak fishing
Darien Lakes State Park

Darien Lakes

$7 vehicle entry fee, collection date range not specified on website

Darien Lake’s varied terrain includes hills, woodlands, ravines, streams and Harlow Lake. The park features campsites as well as a rustic bridge over a channel to Picnic Island.

Hamlin Beach State Park
Hamlin Beach

Hamlin Beach

$9 vehicle entry fee collected 9am-5pm:

  • Weekends until June 23
  • Daily from June 24 through Labor day
  • Weekends After Labor day till the 3rd weekend in October

Clear water, sandy beaches and tent and trailer campsites entice thousands of visitors each year.

Hamlin Beach State Park

Hamlin Beach State Park has 7 miles of beautiful biking and walking trails, including a mile-long self-guided tour of a CCC/POW camp.

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New York State Parks: Irondequoit Bay Park beach path
Irondequoit Bay Park

Irondequoit Bay State Marine Park

Fee collected for boat launch only.

Irondequoit Bay Marine Park, located at the mouth of Irondequoit Bay, is a launch site for small and power boats providing fishing access to Lake Ontario. Previously a Monroe County Park that has transitioned to the state, the park is operated by the Town of Irondequoit through a cooperative agreement. On the lake shore there is an unguarded beach.

Lakeside Beach New York State Parks
Lakeside Beach State Park

Lakeside Beach

$6 vehicle entry fee collected:

  • 5/25 – 6/9: 10 am – 6 pm, weekends & holidays
  • 6/15 – 9/2: 10 am – 6 pm, daily
  • 9/7 – 10/13: 10 am – 6 pm, weekends & holidays

The park offers outstanding panoramic views of Lake Ontario and surrounding farms and fruit orchards. Camping, hiking, fishing, and picnicking bring thousands to Lakeside Beach.

Letchworth’s Upper Falls


$10 vehicle entry fee collected 5/7 – 10/24: 9 am – 5 pm, daily

The “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth is one of the most magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. Waterfalls, cliffs, and a deep gorge are just some of the parks stunning features.

Explore Letchworth State Park

Whether you want to picnic beside a waterfall, hike one of the park’s 29 trails, or enjoy a scenic drive, Letchworth has something for you.

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Silver Lake
Silver Lake

Silver Lake

$6 parking fee, payable at kiosk

The park provides a boat launch facility for boating and fishing on the lake. The area also has picnic facilities and a comfort station which is open year round.

Niagara Region


$10 vehicle entry fee collected 04/30 – 09/30. Please note, both the Empire Pass and Golden Park Pass are not accepted at this location. 

Although it is primarily a venue for music, visitors enjoy 4 scenic hiking trails and various picnic spots throughout Artpark.

Beaver Island

$7 vehicle entry fee collected when beach is open:

  • 5/26-6/24: 8am-6pm, weekends only
  • 6/28-9/2: 9am-6pm, weekdays; 8am-6pm, weekends & holidays

Located at the south end of Grand Island the park boasts a wide range of outdoor activities. Enjoy the park’s 18-hole golf course, swimming and boating facilities, or trail systems.

Buckhorn Island

No fees charged.

The vast marshlands and meadows of Buckhorn Island border the Niagara River. Explore the nature trails or spend the day fishing or cross-country skiing depending on the season.

Buffalo Harbor

Fees only for use of boat launch.

Buffalo Harbor State Park offers beautiful views of Lake Erie. The park is home to a 1,000 slip marina, a restaurant, boat launches, personal watercraft launches, fish cleaning station, restrooms, and a beach for strolling and sunbathing.

De Veaux Woods

No fees charged.

De Veaux Woods State Park has two ball diamonds, a playground, nature trails through a meadow and Old Growth Woods, and a path that leads across the Robert Moses Parkway to Whirlpool State Park with access to the Niagara gorge trail system.

Devil’s Hole

No fees charged.

Devil’s Hole State Park overlooks the Devil’s Hole Rapids. The park has picnic areas, scenic overlooks and hiking trails, and is one of the more popular spots for fishing.


$7 vehicle entry fee collected:

  • 5/25-6/16: 9am-5pm, weekends & holidays only
  • 6/22-9/2: 9am-5pm, daily

Evangola State Park features a beautiful arc-shaped shoreline and natural sand beach on Lake Erie. The park also offers picnic facilities, 80 campsites, and playing fields.

Old Fort Niagara tunnel castle view
Old Fort Niagara

Fort Niagara

$8 vehicle entry fee collected at toll booths 6/20 & 6/21, 6/27 – 9/7 10am – 6pm

Fort Niagara State Park offers boat access to the Lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario. Adjacent to Old Fort Niagara, the park offers hiking, swimming and many other activities.

Old Fort Niagara

Fort Niagara was active for 300 years as a strategic stronghold during the French and Indian Wars, War of 1812, American Revolutionary War, and American Civil War.

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Four Mile Creek

No fees charged.

Located on the shores of Lake Ontario only 15 minutes from the mighty Niagara Falls the park offers a variety of camping options as well as trails exploring shores and marshlands.

Golden Hill New York State Parks
Golden Hill State Park

Golden Hill

$6 vehicle entry fee collected 5/14-10/10 between 8am – 9pm

Located on the scenic shore of Lake Ontario the park is home to The Thirty Mile Lighthouse. The park offers boating, fishing, hiking, and walking tours of the lighthouse.

Joseph Davis

No fees charged.

Fields, woodlands and ponds provide the landscape for the wide variety of recreation. Fishing, hiking, and Frisbee disc golf are just some of the activities offered by the park.

New York State Parks - Knox Farm State Park fence
Knox Farm State Park

Knox Farm

No fees charged.

Situated on a former country estate the park is adjacent to the historic village of East Aurora. The park features a variety of habitats and is home to several species of farm animals.

Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Vehicle entry fee collected. Please visit for the most current fees. As of April 2021, their general statement reads, “Our automated lots are in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There is a fee of $10 to park all day, even throughout the peak season.”

The oldest state park in the United States offers numerous islands, famous Prospect Point area and many unique views of the world famous falls.

Explore Niagara Falls, USA

Niagara Falls is majestic year-round, and I recommend going at different times throughout the year to witness the uniqueness of each season.

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No fees charged.

Reservoir State Park is a favorite of local residents in Niagara County. The park offers a variety of sports facilities including tennis, baseball, roller hockey, soccer, and softball. They also offer a driving range and R/C Airplane field.

Whirlpool State Park
Whirlpool State Park


No fees charged.

Spectacular views of swirling rapids, the whirlpool and the Niagara River Escarpment as well as a network of nature trails that descend into the gorge.


$6 vehicle entry fee collected, $7 when swimming is available:

  • 5/25 – 6/21, weekends 9am – 6pm
  • 6/22 – 9/2, daily 9am – 6pm

A well-preserved natural area for many varieties of plants and wildlife, encompassing 395 acres of mature woods, open meadows and marshland on Tuscarora Bay.

Woodlawn Beach

$7 vehicle entry fee collected.

Located on Lake Erie, within the Buffalo metropolitan area, the park offers a beautiful, long natural sand beach with lovely panoramic views and spectacular sunsets on the lake.

Central Region

Chittenango Falls

$5 vehicle entry fee collected daily via automated pay station.

Glacial sculpted 400 million year-old bedrock is responsible for the park’s picturesque 167 foot namesake waterfall. Enjoy the views offered by trails winding through the gorge.

New York State Parks - Green Lakes State Park Green Lake bench
Green Lakes State Park

Green Lakes

$10 vehicle entry fee collected, no date range defined on website

Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville, ten miles east of Syracuse, features two turquoise-colored glacial lakes, walking trails, and a swimming beach on Green Lake.

Sandy Island Beach

$7 vehicle entry fee collected, date range not defined on website.

The scenic dunes found at the park were formed by a giant inland sea that preceded Lake Ontario. Walkovers and viewing platforms have been built to protect the fragile dune environment.

Selkirk Shores

$7 vehicle entry fee collected 6/26 – 9/6/ (Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon & holidays)

Overlooking a bluff on Lake Ontario the park offers Great Lakes swimming, fishing and spectacular sunsets. Boat launch sites as well as camping facilities are also available.

Verona Beach State Park Oneida Lake
Verona Beach State Park

Verona Beach

$7 vehicle entry fee collected:

  • 8 am to 5 pm Monday – Friday (6/14/20 – Labor Day)
  • 8 am to 6 pm Saturday/Sunday/Holidays (Memorial Day-Labor Day)

Located on the eastern shore of Oneida Lake the park is a picnicker’s and camper’s delight. Shaded picnic areas and the campground boast a view of the park’s scenic beach.

Allegany Region

New York State Parks - Allegany State Park Red House Administration Building
Red House Administration Building

Allegany State Park

&7 vehicle entry fee collected 9 AM – 4:30 PM:

  • 5/29 – 6/20: Weekends & holidays only
  • 6/26 – 9/6: Daily
  • 9/11 – 10/11: Weekends & holidays only

The Red House Area is known for the historic tudor-style Administration Building and everything centrally located around the Red House Lake. It offers 5 miles of paved bike paths, boat and bike rentals, a sandy beach for swimming, fishing and snowmobiling.

Other features include Thunder Rocks and the Stone Tower.

Historic Sites

The Empire Pass is not typically accepted at the Historic Parks. Regular admission fees apply.

Ganondagan autumn longhouse

Ganondagan State Historic Site

Adults – $8 ($6 between Nov 1 – Apr 30 when Longhouse is closed). Other pricing variations on website. Special events may also vary.

Ganondagan State Historic Site is the only New York State Historic Site dedicated to a Native American theme (1987), and the only Seneca town developed and interpreted in the United States.

Spanning 569 acres, Ganondagan is the original site of a 17th C Seneca town, that existed there peacefully more than 350 years ago. The culture, art, agriculture, and government of the Seneca people influenced our modern understanding of equality, democratic government, women’s rights, ecology and natural foods.

Ganondagan State Historic Site

Ganondagan is the original site of a 17th-century Seneca town, which at its peak had 150 longhouses where one replica stands today.

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New York State Parks - Fort Ontario
Fort Ontario

Fort Ontario

Adults – $4, other pricing variations on website. There is a picnic area overlooking Lake Ontario, just beyond the fort that is free.

Visitors to Fort Ontario State Historic Site today will see the star-shaped fort dating to the early 1840’s with 1863 to 1872 improvements.

There are two Guardhouses, a Powder Magazine, Storehouse, Enlisted Men’s Barracks, and windswept ramparts featuring magnificent views of Lake Ontario and underground stone casemates and galleries to tour.

New York State Parks - Sonnenberg Gardens Japanese Tea Garden
Sonnenberg Gardens

Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion

Adults – $15, other pricing variations listed on website. Open 7 days a week, May 1 through October 31.

Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park is one of the nation’s most extensively preserved country estates from the Victorian era.

This 50 acre site features beautiful formal and informal gardens, a historic mansion, the Lord & Burnham greenhouse complex and beautiful views of Canandaigua Lake. Sonnenberg’s magnificent Queen Anne style mansion, the former summer home of Frederick Ferris and Mary Clark Thompson, was built in 1887.

The surrounding gardens were developed between 1902 and 1920 and reflect a variety of styles, including Victorian, Italian, Colonial, and Japanese influences.

Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion

Located in the City of Canandaigua, Sonnenberg Gardens is an exceptional example of the lavish wealth and philanthropy of the Gilded Age.

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New York State Parks - Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin Martin House Buffalo
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House

Darwin Martin House

Tours vary in price and duration. See website for tour details.

In 1905, Frank Lloyd Wright completed a residential estate that would become one of the most important works of his career. Buffalo’s Darwin D. Martin House Complex is a seminal Prairie House and a rare Wright design that incorporates multiple structures for an extended family.

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Easy Waterfalls

Many of the region’s most stunning waterfalls can be viewed from the road, parking area, or a short walk on a pathway.

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Swimming Holes

On a hot day, you can sit under a waterfall, swim in a lake, or jump in a creek at one of these refreshing natural swimming areas.

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23 Hidden Places Around Rochester

From secret gardens to enchanting waterfalls, exploring hidden places around the Rochester area is the ultimate way to add some spice to your travel experiences.

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4 Rock Cities Near Rochester

Explore these cool, quiet, mossy rock cities near Rochester, with boulders the size of houses! You’ll love Panama Rocks, Rock City Park, Little Rock City, and Thunder Rocks in Allegany State Park.

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Explore The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail

The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail runs along the southern Lake Ontario shoreline, from Fort Niagara in Youngstown to Fort Ontario in Oswego.

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Geologic History of the Rochester Area

These day trips into Rochester’s geologic history, filled with drumlins, fossils, and a meromictic lake will leave you awe-struck.

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39 Other Great Lakes Near Rochester

Rochester is well-known for its 11 Finger Lakes and two beautiful Great Lakes. But there are even more fresh-water lakes to enjoy.

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Explore Livingston County

Take a drive through the Livingston County countryside to explore charming village Main Streets, historic districts, nature trails and lakes.

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Which are your favorite New York State Parks?

Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Debi Bower is the founder and creative director of and author of the book Day Trips Around Rochester, New York.


3 thoughts on “49 New York State Parks Within a Two-Hour Drive of Rochester”

    1. Martin Kolz. Text only.

      When we were kids(50 years ago) we could swim anywhere in canadaigua lake. You could walk out from Kershaw park for a half mile on sandy beaches. The water is shallow for a long distance. Before they built the city pier in canandaigua, there was just a border of lg stones. You could enter the lake from the pier and there is a sand bar that you can walk on all the way out to squaw island.. stories say that when the Indians were in battle then all the women and children would walk the sandbar to the island for safety. So many wonderful memories growing up on canandaigua lake.

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