Learn to Swim! 
Do you have children who are ready to learn their water skills this season? We have a bunch of Learn-to-Swim sessions this summer for kids many are free! 

The Free Learn to Swim program is made possible through a partnership between the Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, the American Red Cross, National Swimming Pool Foundation and the Northeast Spa and Pool Association.   

Learn to Swim Locations: 
Grafton Lakes, Roberto Clemente, Taughannock Falls, and Moreau Lake State Parks. See details about these and all swim programs at New York State parks. See Details


 New York State Parks wishes to remind all visitors to always
follow and practice swim safety while enjoying the 
great outdoors. Following a few simple rules could save a life. 
View some of our spectacular swimming areas
in our photo gallery. 

High-Tech Treasure Hunt


Geocaching is a fun way to explore the outdoors with friends and family. Participants use a hand-held global positioning system (GPS) device and basic navigation to find hidden geocaches. Sixteen state parks and historic sites in the Saratoga/Capital District Region will host 52 new geocaches as part of the third annual Geocache Challenge. When participants find each cache, they sign the logbook and stamp their Geocache passport with a 

unique stamp in each cache.


To complete the challenge, participants must find 35 of the 52 geocaches by Veterans Day - and will be entered into a drawing for a prize. More than that, participants

explore unique corners of state parks and historic sites across the region.


Geocache passports can be picked up at the office of any participating park or site, or downloaded here. GPS coordinates for the State Park geocaches can be found at www.geocaching.com .



Renewing our Commitment to the Appalachian Trail        

New York State Parks are a significant link in the nation's most storied long-distance hiking trail. Recently, the National Park Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and New York State renewed a 10-year commitment to work together to manage and steward New York's 85-mile section of the Appalachian Train. The historic trail - which passes through Sterling Forest, Harriman, Bear Mountain, Hudson Highlands and Clarence Fahnestock State Parks - offers an unparalleled hiking experience in New York.


New York State can be considered the birthplace of the trail because the very first segment was built between Ramapo River and Finger Board Mountain in Harriman State Park in 1922. Now, 92 years later, New York is one of 14 eastern states between Maine and Georgia traversed by the 2,180-mile A.T. It is the longest continuously marked trail in the world.


The agreement is a reminder of the partnerships it takes to protect and preserve the Appalachian Trail - and trails across New York - for today and for future generations.


For more information about the Appalachian Trail, visit www.appalachiantrail.org



Volunteer Spotlight: Linda Rabjohn

Hamlin, NY. President of the  

Friends of Hamlin Beach State Park

How long have you been volunteering at this location and how did you get involved?    

I've been involved with the Friends Group for the past 3 years. 
When I heard that there was a volunteer effort going on regarding the CCC/POW camp in the park, I wanted to become involved with its "rediscovery." I derived a lot of satisfaction raking at the building locations and ultimately making small discoveries....a main water line going into a building, a clothing hanger, the first strand of buried barbed wire. With each "discovery," there was increased interest. 

Describe a recent project you organized or participated in:

I organized, worked on the development of the projects for, and oversaw the general running of the I Love My Park Day events for 2012 and 2013, and also was involved in the 2014 ILMPD Event.     

What is your favorite thing to do at the park?

There is no one favorite.  I enjoy every project that I work on. 

What would you suggest to others who might want to get more involved at their favorite park/site?  

If you have the time, definitely do it.  If your park has a Friends Group, join it.  So much satisfaction can be derived working with other people as a team, contributing to your local community, and stepping up to take on projects to improve the appearance of the park and just enjoying nature.


Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I'm so pleased with how our Friends Group is evolving and growing.  We have a wonderful working relationship with the park management and are now moving onto our next venture of converting a house that sits adjacent to the CCC/POW site into a history center for the site for displaying information and artifacts found there.  


Ed Evans, 8th person from left, describing the CCC &POW camp
Uncovering History at Hamlin Beach State Park:
The CCC Camp Restoration Project

Ed Evans, of Hamlin, first learned that Hamlin Beach State Park was the former site of Civilian Conservation Corp Camp SP 53 and a German Prisoner of War Camp when he was serving on the Hamlin Town Board. With the encouragement of former park manager Marty Howden, Ed, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Friends of Hamlin Beach State Park, spent the last six years working to develop a history trail at the park to uncover the history for park visitors to experience first-hand. 

For the first five years of the project, Ed, joined by family and friends, cleared the CCC/POW site of runaway plant growth, invasive species, and debris while rescuing half-buried artifacts and documenting the layout of two very different camps that that once occupied the same ground. After that hard work was completed, his emphasis shifted to making the site look more like a park.  For this year's I Love My Park Day, Ed organized several projects and volunteers at the site, including installing 29 4x4 posts around the camp to create the long-envisioned "Give Yourself a Tour" history trail. Ed also gives tours and notes that people are amazed that this history has been hidden from view for so long, and is close to their homes.

What's next for this project?  According to Ed's research, "every square foot of this site is pretty much just the way it was when it was abandoned after WWII.  If there is ever going to be a CCC/POW campsite preserve, I think it will have to be this one.  The public already owns the land!" Ed is dedicated to the vision of seeing the CCC/POW camp "completely reconstructed as a real life, up and running, working museum designed to keep important but underemphasized history from being forgotten," and knows that volunteers, "limited only to the breadth and depth of their dreams" are essential to making it happen.   

Read more about the CCC Camp Restoration Project and Self-Guided Tour of the site visit. 



Behind the Scenery 
Mary Jane Brooks,
Genesee Regional Office


How long have you been with the agency?   

47 years and still climbing!  

What does someone in your position do?

I work for the Regional Director and assist the Park Managers, but have worked in all areas of the park. I'm also the hiring coordinator; camping coordinator and help supervise the Letchworth Gate attendants, front desk staff and camping staff.

What's the coolest thing you've ever seen?

wo things come to mind:  the filming of General Hospital (soap opera) when "Luke and Laura" were here -  they actually had the entire film crew here and sent a boat over the Middle Falls with a helicopter rescuing their stunt doubles before they went over.  The other neat thing was when the Blue Angels plane simulator drove through the park and stopped at our Headquarters.

What's the coolest thing you've ever done? 

Balloon ride with Balloons Over Letchworth (we went over the Middle Falls and down into the gorge)  and also I went on a raft ride with Adventure Calls Rafting - the gorge is entirely different from the bottom than from the top.

Is there a destination in the park/region you'd recommend to someone? 


I tell patrons that my favorite is Inspiration Point - it's so breathtaking and "inspiring" and you can see Middle and Upper Falls and the railroad trestle.

What led you to work in the park system?

My grandfather worked and lived in the Park when I was little and so my family spent a lot of time here.  When I applied, they had a new position for typist available so I took the typing test, received a 98 and they hired me.  It was a lot easier when I started than it is now.


As a side note -  I love Letchworth State Park -  the staff are like family to me -  and now I'm seeing the grandchildren of people I started working with -  that's scary -  but I still have no idea how much longer I will work.  As long as I am healthy, I am happy!



Join State Parks in the Fight Against Invasive Species   

The Emerald Ash Borer, a winged invasive insect, has rapidly become the most destructive and costly forest insect to invade North America. With
Invasive Species Awareness Week - July 6-12 - approaching, State Parks is calling on our valued park visitors to help slow its spread.

The ash borer has a remarkable ability for population growth, so early detection is extremely important in decelerating the spread of the invasive pests. Firewood is difficult to regulate, and the moving of infested firewood long distances greatly accelerates the spread of invasive species.  In addition to the ash borer, there are other invasive pests including insects and diseases which can be moved in firewood. 
But you can help! This Invasive Species Week and year-round, help protect our state parks and stop the spread of tree pests.

Please do not transport untreated firewood to state lands, campgrounds or parks -- only bring heat treated firewood or obtain firewood at or near the campground. For more information on the availability of firewood, please contact the campground directly.  
Learn more.



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Visit our 

Events Calendar
 hikes, happenings,
festivals & more!

Tell us all about it!


If you've recently spent time at a state park or historic site -- or plan to this summer -- be sure to take a few minutes after your visit and share your experience. Our new online Visitor Survey for 2014 is available on our homepage at nysparks.com. 

We're looking at miles traveled, favorite spots and activities, types of parks and sites preferred and more. 

Thanks in advance for your feedback!    


Enjoy camping?
Love to take pix?

Capture those great memories at state campgrounds and enter NY's Camping Photo Contest being held now through Columbus Day! 

Categories are
  • sunrise/sunset
  • nature/wildlife
  • outdoor activities/watersports
  • seasons
  • camping life
  • points of interest/scenic views 

Grand Prize includes $250 camping
gift card, tent and more! 



Lifetime Liberty Pass

The new Lifetime Liberty Pass is available for New York State Veterans with disabilities. Benefits of the pass include free vehicle entry to State Parks and DEC-operated day-use areas, as well as numerous State boat launch sites, historic sites, arboretums and park preserves; free golf at 28 State Park golf courses; free swimming pool entrance at 36 State Park pools, and discounted camping and cabin rentals at all 119 State Park and DEC campgrounds. Read more.


Cayuga-Seneca Lock 4, 1921
New Recognition for an  
Old Waterway


The State Historic Preservation Office, Canal Corp., and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor partnered together to advance the New York State Barge Canal System for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The Barge Canal Historic District includes the four historic branches of the state's 20th century canal system; the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca canals - all much enlarged versions of waterways that were initially constructed during the 1820s. The district sprawls 450 miles over 18 counties and encompasses 23,000 acres.


New York's canals were enormously successful and had to be enlarged repeatedly during the 19th century to accommodate larger boats and increased traffic. The Barge Canal, constructed 1905-18, is the last and most ambitious enlargement.


Today, canal system remains a fascinating place for boating, cycling, hiking and discovering New York State's rich heritage. Read More 


 Meet the Locals   
We all love our beaches and the Least Tern is no exception. These summer residents prefer the beaches of Long Island. This bird is so named because 
it is the smallest member of the gull and tern family, reaching just nine inches in body length. While they are small, Least Terns are mighty and will defend their nests fiercely by diving and screeching to frighten away any potential threat. They also make a habit to roosting with larger terns for protection. 

These acrobats dine mostly on small fish and can be seen diving into the water like an arrow for a fresh catch. On your next visit to a state park beach on Long Island, look for Least Terns.


School's out! Where to next?      


Consider our historic sites - many of which are offering fun, educational summer camps. Students can learn and experience the past like never before by using nature to create art at  Frederic Church's home, experiencing the work and play of colonial life on the Mohawk Valley frontier, joining in the fun with History Adventure Days, and more!       


Tag your Instagrams!

Use hashtag #nysparks with your park pix for a chance to be highlighted on our social media channels. 

Find us at @nystateparks    

 New Law for Young Boaters 

All boaters born on or after 
May 1, 1996 are now required to obtain a Safe Boating Certificate by completing an eight-hour safe boating course. Courses may be completed and certificates obtained through State Parks, U.S. Power Squadrons, or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Previous law only required the operator of a personal watercraft or any youthful boat operator to obtain a Safe Boating Certificate.  Read More

Lifetime Empire Passport!  

If you're an avid fan of the outdoors, you can pay $750 once and never pay entry or parking fees again in any of New York's 180 state parks.  One-, three-, and five-year Empire Passports are also available. Read more.

Nature Blog 

Do you love the outdoors? Are you curious about science, wildlife, biology and environmental projects and programs happening in state parks? 

Then check out our new blog: 

Save the Date: Thacher Park Centennial Running Fest


September 13, 2014 marks 100 years of Thacher State Park. To celebrate, the park will hold events all day, including the inaugural edition of an all-trail running festival! The event is jointly produced by John Boyd Thacher State Park and ARE Event Productions. Read More