Let the Camping Commence
Camping and summer go hand-in-hand. Here's some basic information and links that will help you plan your next New York State camping trip.
Camping in the State Parks
New York State Parks offer a wide variety of campgrounds and site types. In fact, the State Parks agency manages over 8,500 sites. Tents, trailers and motorhomes are welcomed at nearly all campgrounds. Cabins, both modern and rustic, are available at many parks, Most individual sites have a picnic table, fire pit or ring and nearby restrooms. Some include amenities such as electric, water and sewer hook-up, and platforms.
Group camping sites offer an altogether different experience. They are often located in more remote park areas, generally do not offer electric hookup and accommodate groups ranging from 20-100.
But of course it's about more than the campsite. The State Parks offer a great diversity of natural settings, great views, and lots of outdoor activities to keep the whole family busy. So we recommend picking a region or natural setting that you'd like to explore, and then finding a campsite that allows you to make it happen. From ocean-front beaches on Long Island, to waterfalls and gorges in the Finger Lakes, to large tract of wilderness in Allegany, rest assured that State Parks has your camping needs covered.
Arranging a stay at a New York state park is simple and easy, either by calling 1-800-456-CAMP or http://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com. Reservations can be made from 1 day to 9 months in advance of your stay. For spur of the moment trips, rentals are also available on a walk-up basis.
Seasonal camping is a new option offered by State Parks. Seasonal sites are offered at Bowman Lake and Oquaga Creek in the Central Region and Max V. Shaul in the Saratoga-Capital Region. These sites allow campers who want to stay longer, several weeks generally, to do so with just one reservation. These sites are offered at a discounted rate, and reservations must be made directly with the parks.
Backpacking in the Catskills and Adirondacks
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) administers 52 campgrounds in the Adirondack and Catskill parks. Like State Parks, you'll find lots of different types of camping experiences offered throughout DEC sites. You can tent camp, or bring your RV or trailer to many DEC campgrounds. Some DEC campgrounds also offer beaches, boat launches and/or day use facilities.
The Adirondacks and Catskills are well-known for their great hiking and backpacking trails, and the DEC also offers sites that cater to these uses. Primitive camping, is permitted on most lands managed by DEC including Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks as well as State Forests. This opens up lots of camping opportunities for those who are willing to strap on a pack for a weekend or week-long trek. However, there are a few restrictions, including a prohibition from camping within 150 feet of water, trails, or roads. DEC also offer Designated Primitive Camping Sites, which often allow camping within easy access to trails and water sources that otherwise is not allowed. These sites are designated with yellow and black signs. They often have flat surfaces for tent pitching, and some have lean-tos and privy toilets.
More information can be found at the DEC Camping page.
Bike Camping on the Erie Canalway Trail
Can't decide whether to go biking or camping on your next trip? Why not do both? Bike camping combines elements of backpacking and cyclo-touring, with cyclists carrying their camping gear on their bike as they explore. We have a premier venue for bike camping right here in New York - the Erie Canalway Trail. It's long, relatively flat, and the trail traverses charming communities, great Upstate scenery, and canal heritage sites. And, there's free and convenient camping sites across the statewide route!
That's right, there are free camping sites available to those using the trail. They are called Biker Hiker Boater sites and are administered by the New York State Canal Corporation.
Most are located at Canal locks. All have water and restrooms nearby. The Canal Corporation asks that you call at least a day in advance to use the sites.
Make sure to check out CycletheErieCanal.com for more trip-planning resources for the Erie Canalway Trail. We list Biker Hiker Boater sites under lodging, and include phone numbers.
Now back to finding those tent poles!