Taughannock Falls Overlook Undergoing Transformation 


The popular overlook at Taughannock Falls State Park is getting a makeover. Earlier this month, a multifaceted project broke ground to remake the scenic area above New York's tallest waterfall more welcoming. The project will add new picnic areas, a three-season comfort station with a seasonal traveler information counter staffed by the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau, native plant gardens, and a redesigned parking area featuring permeable pavement that will better protect the surrounding environment.

The $1.9 million project, funded through Governor Cuomo's New York Parks 2020 plan and the Environmental Facility Corporation's Green Innovation Grant Program, is scheduled for completion in May 2016. Access to the overlook and the Civilian Conservation Corps-era staircase will be maintained throughout the project. 



Memorial Day Events
Welcome to summer! Sun, sand and fun await at state parks this Memorial Day Weekend. Keep your eyes on the skies and watch 30 hot air balloons float into the canyons of Letchworth State Park during the 14th Annual Red, White and Blue Balloon Festival, or experience the much-anticipated return of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds at Jones Beach's Bethpage Air Show. In the Capital Region, try your hand at geocaching and sand castle building at Grafton Lakes, or join in the fun of Max V. Shaul's Summer Kick-Off Jamboree. Whether learning to catch a fish at Letchworth, searching for spring migrants at Clay Pit Ponds, or honoring our nation's soldiers at New Windsor Cantonment, there's something for everyone. Check out our events calendar for more. 


A huge heartfelt Thank You to the thousands of volunteers who participated across the state in the 4th annual I Love My Park Day, a partnership between New York State Parks and Parks & Trails New York. Due to your efforts NY state parks & sites received a ton of TLC and look fantastic. Over 6500 volunteers participated in nearly 200 projects at 95 state parks and historic sites. From all of us at New York State Parks, thank you for all you accomplished on May 2 and we look forward to seeing you this summer! 


Former Prison Lands to Be Added to Moreau Lake State Park


 New York State recently transferred 750 acres of pristine forest that surrounded the former mountaintop Mount McGregor State Correctional Facility property in Saratoga County to Moreau Lake State Park.  For the first time ever, these beautiful forested lands, including a scenic lake, will be open to the public for outdoor recreation.  The transfer includes a key segment of a planned long-distance Palmertown Ridge Trail that eventually will connect Saratoga Springs to Moreau Lake, as well as Grant Cottage State Historic Site, the site where President Ulysses S. Grant died in July 1885. 

Public access to the property is currently limited with no parking areas or maintained trails, but State Parks will undertake a public planning effort in the coming months to give the public an opportunity to comment on how best to provide recreational access to the new parkland. Stay tuned! Read more. 


Get the Marshmallows Ready, and Save on Camping May 26-June 25!

Get outdoors this season and reserve your campsite now to enjoy a special discount.  The Early Summer Camping Special offer includes $5 per night off regular rates from May 26-June 25, 2015 for campers making reservations using the promo code: EARLYCAMP15.
The deal covers campsites at 31 select New York State Park campgrounds, and excludes cabins, cottages, yurts and previous reservations.


Reserve online or by phone at 800-456-CAMP.  

Join the fun and plan your getaway!  List of participating parks.


New York State now offering online boating safety course  

Boaters and personal watercraft operators can now obtain a boating safety certificate by successfully completing an approved online course. Until now, the only option for the 20,000 people seeking a boating safety certificate in New York each year was to complete an eight-hour classroom-based course.

State law requires anyone born on or after
May 1, 1996 wanting to operate a motorboat to obtain a boating safety certificate, as well as anyone who operates a personal watercraft.

Two internet-based boating education providers now offer the course in New York. Fees are set by the providers. Links to approved courses can be found on the Parks website. After successfully completing the course, a boating safety certificate will be issued. Boaters will then have the option of having the certification reflected on their NYS Driver Licenses, Non-Driver IDs or Learner Permits through the New York Adventure License program.

Read More.


Find Your Fit at New York State Parks!


 With the warm weather finally here, it's time to join New York State Parks for some fun, fit events! For those seeking a more relaxed approach, Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park is offering yoga classes Wednesday through Saturday from May-August; times vary.

If you're interested in something that's a bit more up-tempo, Gantry Plaza State Park is hosting the Long Island City YMCA Summer Fitness Series. These free, instructor-led classes will provide for a great workout with high energy music and will be held Saturdays, June 6-August 8, 10am-11am, and Wednesdays, June 10-August 12, 7-8pm.

If you want a competitive element to your fitness, Rockefeller State Park Preserve hosts the Rockwood Ramble 10K on June 6. Along with providing a challenging trail race, this course offers picturesque views of the Hudson River for runners and spectators alike. All proceeds will benefit trail maintenance of the carriage trails at the Preserve.

Looking for more ways to get fit and stay active this summer? New York State Parks provides countless opportunities and activities to stay active and exercise - no matter your age or fitness level. For a complete listing of upcoming events, visit our #GetFitNYS events page for more details.



Volunteer Spotlight: Ned Chapman 

Owner, Sunnyside Gardens

Saratoga Springs, NY

Saratoga Spa State Park


Ned Chapman, owner of Sunnyside Gardens in Saratoga Springs, NY has worked with the park's gardener, Dan Urkevich to plan the park's famously beautiful gardens and has donated plant material for approximately twenty years.  The stunning gardens resulting from this partnership are a landmark in Saratoga Springs and are themselves a destination.  Ned believes that Dan is a true artist and strongly supports him with whatever he needs, including the significant donation of plants that make the gardens possible. Ned also credits the Saratoga-Capital District Regional Director, Alane Ball-Chinian, for her enthusiastic support for this partnership.

Ned and Dan work together at the beginning of each season to plan the gardens, and everyone at Sunnyside Gardens helps make it happen. Sunnyside often hears from customers who thank them for supporting the Park flowers and Ned is proud to be a part of the beauty that every visitors sees when they enter the park.  He is happy to support this community endeavor, and believes that any local garden center would benefit tremendously by adopting their local park.  He sees the partnership as a unique opportunity that benefits everyone. 


Sleep Under the Stars!

The 2015 New York State Camping Guide is now available so start planning your summer getaway! The 118 State Parks and Department of Environmental Conservation campgrounds across New York are featured along with images, amenities, a map, reservation information and more. With tranquil tent sites tucked amid the woods to boat-access only waterfront sites to multi-room cottages, and everything in between, state park campgrounds are the perfect settings for long weekends to unwind and destination vacations.  

Behind the Scenery: Tom Hughes, Natural Resource Steward Biologist

How long have you been with the agency?

I started in April 2008. However it seems like much longer, since I grew up near Rochester, New York, and I've been exploring our parks in the Finger Lakes Region since I was a little kid!

What does someone in your position do?

I coordinate, manage, and provide consultation for natural resource management, environmental stewardship, education and outreach for our NYS Parks' facilities in the Central and Finger Lakes Regions. In an effort to keep up with a very ambitious work plan, I founded and currently guide FORCES (Friends of Recreation, Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship).

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

I'm extremely proud to be part of a team that created Nature Play at Clark Reservation - a nature-themed playground that features customized play equipment and interpretive kiosks that "bring the park to the playground." While learning about all the flora and fauna in the park, visitors can explore a bat cave; slide down a bank like an otter on a roller slide; and take a ride on a spinner seat as a maple samara would fall from the sky.

Is there a destination you'd recommend to someone?

This is an easy choice...Ganondagan State Historic Site, where a Native American community of thousands of Seneca people lived 300 years ago. There's so much to learn about and explore, including a full-size replica of a 17th century Seneca bark longhouse, miles of hiking trails and a 60-acre grassland area. Visit in July for the 24th Annual Native American Dance & Music Festival (July 25 & 26) or come to see the new Seneca Art and Culture Center when it opens.

What inspired you to work in the park system?

New York State Parks provide me with a setting where I can combine my interests, skills, and knowledge in biology and ecology with my passions for teaching and environmental outreach. I believe that the advancement of knowledge and the conservation of natural resources are most effectively achieved by connecting the human resource with the environmental resource.

What is FORCES?


The collegiate FORCES program was launched in 2008 in State Parks' Central and Finger Lakes Regions with the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The program forms mutually beneficial relationships between State Parks, colleges and students.  Through the FORCES program, State Parks staff are working to establish relationships with college-sanctioned clubs or other student-led organizations through which students participate in State Park projects. Student involvement can range from one-day events, semester/summer long internships, to long-term projects suitable for capstone projects or thesis level work that include improvements to recreation facilities and historic sites, trail rehabilitation, protection and restoration of natural resources, and environmental education. These stewardship projects support and enhance park visitors' experiences, strengthen college academic programs, and forge personal life-long connections with these students to State Parks.


FORCES currently has a presence in 17 collegiate institutions. This encompasses seven student-run FORCES clubs, 10 FORCES student ambassadors, thousands of volunteer hours, partnerships with faculty, and several FORCES Stewards (student interns). To date, FORCES has engaged over 900 students and new programs are moving ahead in Western New York and the Hudson Valley.  


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