Thousand Island State Parks Offer Brand New Beachfront and Camping Facilities

State Parks recently completed $3.6 million in projects to improve the beachfront and campgrounds at Wellesley Island and Grass Point State Parks in the Thousand Islands, making the parks more attractive to visitors of these popular destinations on the St. Lawrence River.

At Wellesley Island State Park in Fineview, State Parks replaced the bathhouse at the park's swimming beach. The new facility includes new bathrooms, changing areas, concession area and adjoining open-air covered pavilion. The park's campground recreation and games area, now located in a barn across a park road and away from the beach, will be relocated to the new facility. State Parks also upgraded Wellesley Island's popular RV camping loop, including improved electric service at 83 sites.

At Grass Point State Park in the town of Orleans, State Parks replaced the deteriorated beach bathhouse with a modern facility, including new bathrooms, changing areas and lifeguard station. The project included installation of a new walkway to an adjacent playground, which was  constructed in 2014.

The projects are among State Park improvements taking place across New York under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 program, a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. Read More.


State Parks Expands Free Learn-to-Swim Program

Knowing how to swim is a lifelong skill, and New York State Parks is providing free swimming lessons to 1,000 or more children this summer at State Parks across New York thanks to an expanded Learn-to-Swim partnership. The program is offered at 15 State Parks - double the number from last year - and includes many more in rural areas that have fewer opportunities for swimming lessons.

The National Swimming Pool Foundation and the Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA) Foundation donated $15,000 to offset staff and program costs to enable State Parks to offer the free swim classes. The American Red Cross provides training to NYS Park lifeguards to obtain Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification and teach the swimming lessons.

Most programs are intended for children age 5-10, but this year's schedule also includes programs for toddlers at two parks, and basic water safety presentations at three camping parks. The free Learn-to-Swim program began in 2013 at two State Parks in New York City, and builds on the instruction offered at state park facilities as part of programs arranged by summer camps, municipalities and other partner organizations. Read More

Entrance to Largest State Park Pool Gets Makeover

State Parks recently celebrated the grand opening of a new $3.6 million entrance plaza to Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park's acre-size pool.

The massive pool in Westchester County can hold up to 3,500 swimmers at a time and is one of the major attractions of FDR State Park. The adjacent bathhouse facility, with restrooms, showers, and changing areas, had not been modernized since its construction in 1965. The renovation, part of the Governor's NY Parks 2020 initiative to modernize the state park system, features:
* Completely renovated bathhouse interior and new heavy timber roof to help provide a more comfortable experience for park visitors;
* Solar thermal hot water supply, water-saving fixtures and energy-efficient lights make the facility more environmentally sustainable; and
* Tall masonry walls around the pool were demolished to open attractive vistas of Mohansic Lake.

Outside the bathhouse, the garden-like entrance plaza features a welcome station, complete with new site furnishings and native plants and trees, and a filtering rain garden to facilitate cleaner water.  Read More.


Rolling Stones tour Frank Lloyd Wright's legendary Darwin D. Martin House

Ever wonder what members of Rolling Stones do the night before they take the stage? On July 10, before a concert in Buffalo, they visited the Darwin D. Martin House State Historic Site to enjoy a bit of architectural history. Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and a small group of family members and friends visited the Darwin D. Martin House, designed by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Jagger and Watts were given a tour of the National Historic Landmark and State Historic Site by the Martin House staff. The Martin House Complex, designed and built from 1903-05, is considered by Wright scholars to be a significant turning point in the evolution of the Prairie house concept.

Find Your Fit at New York State Parks 

With summer in full swing, it's a great time to visit a New York State Park and get active! 
Bring your bike to Niagara Falls State Park for a scenic evening bike ride along the Niagara Gorge. This event will begin at 6pm and cyclers will travel from Niagara Falls State Park to Devil's Hole State Park and get back in time to enjoy fireworks that night.

Want to learn a new skill? Come out to join Roberto Clemente State Park for its Learn-to-Row program. Rowers will begin with instructional classes on rowing machines with a progression toward rowing on the Harlem River. The session runs from August 14th-31st (Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, 9-11am). There is a $5 registration fee and the program is open to those between the ages of 14-18 years old.

Make sure you've got your running shoes ready as Thacher State Park hosts its running festival on August 23. All abilities are welcome and encouraged to participate. Races include: 5K, 10K, 13.1m, 26.2m, and 50K. For registration & more information, please visit:

Exercising outside enacts a greater sense of revitalization and satisfaction. The variation in terrain, wind resistance, and temperature, all contribute to making your body compensate for these factors, which engages different muscles that you wouldn't otherwise utilize with indoor exercise. This becomes just one of the added benefits of physical activity in the great outdoors.

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 details. 


Cool Summer Nights 

Beat the heat by exploring New York State Parks in a different light, at night! Let the moon guide your evening kayak tours at Wellesley Island and Moreau Lake, or night hikes at Connetquot, Knox Farm and Letchworth.  Enjoy optimal viewing at  Jones Beach, Montauk Point, and Sunken Meadow during the spectacular Perseids Meteor Shower, and keep your eyes on the skies during stargazing programs at Clark Reservation, Gilbert Lake, Cherry Plain, Bowman Lake, Verona Beach and Delta Lake. Escape into another world with movie nights under the Walkway Over the Hudson, at Green Lakes, Taughannock Falls, East River, Olana, Thacher and Buffalo Harbor - just don't forget the popcorn! If s'mores are more your style, relax around a campfire at Green Lakes and Thacher. Visit our events calendar to find summer fun near you!

Governor Cuomo Announces
$6.2 Million for Damaged
Historic Properties

Sixteen historically significant parks, cemeteries, churches, museums, and properties have been awarded $6.2 million to repair severe damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Many historic places continue to struggle with the harsh impact of Superstorm Sandy, and the awards will help to assess, renovate and protect some of the most significant historic properties in the New York City region, including the Fraunces Tavern, a gathering place for Revolutionary War-era patriots such as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams that is now a popular historic museum in Manhattan; Old Westbury Gardens in Westbury, a premier example of a Long Island "Gold Coast" country estate and a leading Long Island heritage tourism destination; and the scenic Evergeens and Green-Wood Cemeteries in Brooklyn. The program is funded by the National Park Service and administered by State Parks. Read More
Beach goers Enjoy New Visitor
Amenity at Robert Moses State Park

Free Wi-Fi is now available at Robert Moses State Park, the popular Long Island beach with over 3.4 million visitors annually. The free wireless service, which was installed at Fields 2, 3, 4 and 5, is a partnership between State Parks, Toyota, and American Park Network, and builds on the free Wi-Fi installed last year at Jones Beach, Niagara Falls, Saratoga Spa and East River State Parks.

Users simply select Oh, Ranger! Wi-Fi under available Wi-Fi networks on their device, accept the terms and conditions, and then will be on their way to free Internet access to share photos, access maps and apps, information about the parks and more!

New Oh, Ranger! Parks Guide Available Online

If you haven't seen the 2015/2016 Oh, Ranger!
New York State Parks Guide yet, take a look at the new flip-book version now available. Featuring Minnewaska State Park Preserve's Awosting Falls on its cover, the guide is a handy reference to the 215 state parks and historic sites, with contact information, suggested must-sees, helpful tips and more!

State Park at the Fair

What do birds of prey, costumed re-enactors, blue bird-boxes, master gardeners, putt-putt, book signings, Native American history, wildlife and environmental educators, picnic areas, musket firing, chocolate-making, a large reflecting pool and a fun Parks gift shop have in common? These (and more!) are all found at the State Park at the Fair during the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse August 27-September 7. Located adjacent to the fairground's Chevy Court, the State Park at the Fair is the perfect meeting spot for families and friends to learn more about the parks, get travel ideas, enjoy hands-on activities and meet knowledgeable staff from across the state. It's a summer must-see!

Volunteer Spotlight: Thomas Lepre 

Walkway Over the Hudson Volunteer Ambassador, Poughkeepsie, NY

Friends Group affiliation:  Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park 


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

I started in 1993 when the organization first began its efforts to turn the bridge into a Walkway. When it opened in 2009 as a New York State Historic Park, I stayed on to continue volunteering and enjoy the Park.

Describe a recent project, program or initiative that you organized or participated in:

I enjoy participating in the different events that bring many new people to the Walkway, like our Inaugural Walkway Marathon, and running some of our smaller events like I Love My Park Day and Make A Difference Day, when we clean up and refresh the park and the land below it.  

Is there anything else you'd like to add? 

I'm flattered to be picked for this spotlight and want to be sure to say there are many great volunteers (over 140+) and quality Parks' staff here at Walkway that, together, make it a success!

Behind the Scenery with Tina Spencer, 
Park Naturalist - Niagara Region

How long have you been with the agency?

Since June of 1997. I started out working maintenance at Beaver Island State Park, then worked as a Park Ranger at Niagara Falls State Park and now I work as a Park Naturalist for the Niagara Region Interpretive Programs Office.

What does someone in your position do?
I work in 16 different state parks in Niagara and Erie Counties. My responsibilities include conducting environmental education programs for groups in our parks as well as outreach programs, presenting public programs, working in campgrounds providing programs to campers, working in our seasonal nature centers and leading gorge adventure hikes in the Niagara Gorge. Never a dull moment!

What's the coolest thing you've ever seen? I was leading a Spring Walk at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park and was explaining about Spring Peepers as a young girl came up to me with her fist closed, as she opened her fist she shouts, "Is this a Spring Peeper?..." Of course it was, and that was such a teachable moment!

What's the coolest thing you've ever done?
I had the opportunity to become a certified kayak instructor. With the confidence and certification I was able to start a kayaking public program (Kayaking with Tina) to teach people the basics, which has been a huge success. I fill up almost every class.

Is there a destination you'd recommend to someone? The oldest state park in the United States; Niagara Falls State Park for sure! The natural history is fascinating as well as the local history. To see photos from the past and stand in those same places today is mind blowing.

What inspired you to work in the park system? I love the outdoors and I love teaching; I could think of no better place to combine those two passions and work. This job has been so rewarding; I meet people from all over the world and get to share great stories with them as they visit.

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