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Best New York State Parks to Visit in the Winter

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Best New York State Parks to Visit in the Winter

Hiking in the Allegany Region - courtesy of NY State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation

The Top Choices Feature the "Grand Canyon of the East," a snowmobiling mecca, and an extensive camping complex.

Allegany State Park

This park in western New York State encompasses 65,000 acres, making it the largest of New York’s 162 state parks. The park is a popular winter vacation spot because of its 90 miles of groomed snowmobile trails that are accessible to Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest trails. In addition, the park has six cross-country ski trails of varying difficulty totaling approximately 30 miles; more than 150 winterized cabins and five fully-equipped cottages; a historical museum with comprehensive photo exhibits; and year-round nature interpretive programs such as slide shows, crafts, and outdoor studies, including star watches, animal tracks and signs, and winter botany. Winter visitors to Allegany State Park may also snowshoe or go ice-fishing on one of the lakes, and deer hunting is allowed in season in designated areas of the park.

Winter special events include the Winter Funfest, a family participation occasion during the first weekend in February, which is the largest snowmobiling event in the state. In January, cross-country skiers compete in the annual Ski-A-Thon.

Letchworth State Park

Located along the Genesee River, south of Rochester, Letchworth State Park is renowned as the "Grand Canyon of the East." Its 14,350 acres of scenery include the gorge, lush forests and waterfalls. Twelve winterized cabins are available for rental throughout the season and activities include cross-country skiing on 25 miles of trails, snowmobiling on 50 miles of trails, snow-tubing, ice skating or riding in a horse-drawn sleigh.

The William Pryor Letchworth Museum displays Native American artifacts such as stone tools and pottery. Early photographs of the park trace the evolution of the Letchworth estate into a state park. On a ridge behind the Glen Iris Inn (which is closed between November and March) stands a restored Seneca Indian Council House, which preserves the culture and lore of the Senecas.

Wellesley Island State Park

Located along the St. Lawrence River, park features the most extensive camping complex in the region, ranging from primitive campsites accessible only by boat or on foot, to a colony of 12 fully-equipped, winterized cottages. During a winter stay or on a day-trip to Wellesley Island, visitors have access to eight miles of cross-country ski trails, ice fishing and snowmobiling. Everyone is always excited by sightings of the bald eagles that nest in the trees on Eel Bay.

The Minna Anthony Common Nature Center is a major attraction of Wellesley Island State Park, providing educational and recreational programs for all ages, including winter nature walks (on snowshoes, if necessary), and craft workshops to make bird feeders or holiday gifts from pine cones.

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