Category Archives: Park Projects

Climb a Ladder to the Outdoors

A ladder is used to get to a place otherwise beyond reach. That kind of help is the idea behind the State Parks’ Ladders to the Outdoors program, which provides free recreational programs for youth in underserved communities in Niagara and Erie counties.

The goal of State Parks’ Ladders to the Outdoors program is to remove financial barriers to getting children to play outdoors, try new sports, take a hike or camp in State Parks that they might not have a chance to visit. Since this program started in the summer of 2021, more than 2,000 kids from a variety of school districts, community, church, and youth groups have attended more than 50 different sporting and recreational events, completely free of charge.

Examples of programs that have been provided include guided hikes in the Niagara Gorge, sledding at Buffalo Harbor State Park, snowshoeing at Knox Farm State Park and a hike at Niagara Falls State Park. The offerings are endless and be tailored to any group or season.

When a group attends a Ladders program, activities will be tailored to the park they wish to go to and they will have access to a complete inventory of gear, from soccer balls, baseballs, bats and gloves, and footballs, to snowshoes and sleds. Want to learn disc golf? To bike? Fish? Swim? Kayak? Hike? We have all that equipment and people to help show the way, and it is always free!

It doesn’t stop at providing just the gear.  To date, $300,000 has been invested to improve playgrounds and sporting fields, such as the baseball diamond and playground accessibility at DeVeaux Woods State Park in Niagara Falls, and Beaver Island State Park in Grand Island.

A safe and sturdy ladder costs money and Parks is making this program work with the support of a $860,000 grant made to the Natural Heritage Trust by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. Wilson was the former owner of the Buffalo Bills football team and a founding owner of the American Football League, who prior to his death in 2014, created one of the nation’s largest charitable foundations to benefit the people of the Western New York, Buffalo and Detroit areas.

Ladders to the Outdoors is looking to grow this summer, with programs available at the following State Parks: Buffalo Harbor, Beaver Island, DeVeaux Woods, Reservoir, Whirlpool, Fort Niagara, and Wilson-Tuscarora.

If your youth group would like to join in or has an idea for a program, please apply or contact us. An online form can be found here. More information is available through KeJuan.Harmon@parks.ny.gov

Start climbing your ladder and see what’s happening at State Parks in western New York!


Post by KeJuan Harmon, Coordinator, Ladders to the Outdoors Program

More About the WNY State Parks in Ladders to the Outdoors


  • Buffalo Harbor State Park is the first state park in the city of Buffalo. Boasting beautiful views of Lake Erie, the park is home to a 1,100-slip marina, a restaurant, boat launches, personal watercraft launches, fish cleaning station, restrooms, and a beach for strolling and sunbathing, and a nautical themed playground great for kids of all ages.
  • Beaver Island State Park is located at the south end of Grand Island in the upper Niagara River. The 950-acre park has a half-mile sandy beach for swimming, adjacent 80 slip marina with both seasonal and transient boat slips, fishing access, car-top boat launch, multiple canoe/kayak launches, bike and nature trails, nature center, playgrounds, picnic areas, athletic fields, horseshoe pits, an 18-hole championship disc golf course, an 18-hole championship golf course.
  • DeVeaux Woods State Park has a baseball diamond, a signature playground, picnic facilities, nature trails through a meadow and Old Growth Woods, and a path that leads across the Niagara Scenic Parkway to Whirlpool State Park with access to the Niagara Gorge trail system. 
  • Whirlpool State Park has many scenic overlooks with spectacular views of the Whirlpool and rapids. Trailheads lead into the Gorge where challenging trails lead to one of the most spectacular landscapes in the country. There are also picnic facilities and a playground in this park.
  • Reservoir State Park has two tennis courts, seven softball diamonds, four basketball courts, a roller hockey court, and picnic facilities.
  • Fort Niagara State Park has two boat launches providing access to the Lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario, woodland hiking trails, a swimming pool, a view of Lake Ontario, picnic grounds, playgrounds and 18 soccer fields.
  • Wilson-Tuscarora State Park is a well-preserved natural area for many varieties of plants and wildlife, encompassing 476.5 acres of mature woods, open meadows, and marshland. Tuscarora Bay, divided from Lake Ontario by a strip of land called “The Island,” has a boat launch and emergency storm shelter docks. The park’s four-mile nature trail is also used for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Fishing for many varieties of pan fish and game fish, from boats or from shore, is extremely popular.

More About the Natural Heritage Trust

Getting to Know the Natural Heritage Trust

Did you know that New York State’s public lands and waters have had a charitable partner for more than 50 years? The Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) was established in 1968 as a non-profit, public benefit corporation with the mission to support parks, outdoor recreation, historic preservation and land and water conservation throughout state lands. During … Continue reading Getting to Know the Natural Heritage Trust

What Makes Jones Beach a Classroom

Jones Beach has always had a special relationship to energy. Located on Long Island’s South Shore just 20 miles from New York City, Jones Beach State Park is on a barrier island shaped over hundreds of thousands of years by the energy of advancing and receding glaciers, and later by the energy of the sun currents of ocean water and wind carrying sand along the coast.

Originally called Short Beach, this barrier island was inaccessible to the public. To create the state park almost a century ago, planners and engineers harnessed the energy of machines and human labor, moving sand and plants to expand the island, and building roads, amenities, and the Art Deco tower and buildings so recognizable today.

Today, energy is everywhere on Jones Beach. It’s in the dramatic dive of a predator like the Common Tern, and in the bright sun that drives photosynthesis of the Seaside Goldenrod, Beach Grass or Beach Pea. It’s in water that brings migratory species and the winds that distribute seeds and carry pollinators from plant to plant. But energy is also present in the engines of the cars that bring visitors to the Park, and in the historical construction of the parkways that they follow to get here.

In an era of climate change, and in the context of New York’s growing commitment to developing renewable energy systems, the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center aims to help New Yorkers understand the fundamental ways human energy consumption and energy infrastructure continue to shape our natural environment.

To further this mission, the Center recently released Energy & Us, a 300-plus page curriculum for high school students that is available to view or download for teachers and school districts at no cost through jonesbeachenc.org/curriculum.

The goal of the program is to inspire young people to think critically about how energy shapes their landscapes and their lives, as well as their own roles in energy systems and ecosystems that surround them. With the beach itself as a classroom, Jones Beach State Park is the perfect place to learn about energy from sunlight, sand, wind, and water.

NATURAL ENERGY AT JONES BEACH


Let’s start by considering the very essence of Jones Beach – a simple grain of sand. A crystal structure composed of millions of molecules, typically of the compound silicate (SiO2), sand is held together with very strong bonds. By comparison, bonds in a drop of spray from the ocean are much weaker. Much less energy needs to be added to water than to sand to trigger what is known as phase shift: A puddle of water will quickly evaporate in the sun, while a similarly sized patch of sand won’t melt. Sand will melt with enough heat, as in done in glass-making, but does sand melt in nature?

Close-up images of grains of sand. (Photo credit – Wikipedia Commons)

Consider when lightning strikes a beach, it creates melted and recrystallized sand formations called fulgurites, also known as “fossil lightning.” Lightning possesses tremendous energy — the core of a lightning strike can reach 53,500 F — but only makes contact with a relatively small surface. The strike quickly heats the sand to a high enough temperature that its chemical bonds are broken. Fulgurite then forms as the energy transfers out of the melted sand into the surrounding ground and air, and the melted matter becomes solid again, forming this unusual form of fused sand.

Have you ever gone swimming in the late summer or early fall, and found the water to be warmer than the air? Solar energy that is absorbed over the course of the summer dissipates in the fall more easily from land and air than from water. This is because water is a relatively poor conductor; energy moves through it with difficulty, so water is slow to heat and slow to cool.

Air is a good insulator and a poor conductor, which is why fur and down help keep animals warm. It’s not the quantity of hairs or feathers that matters, but rather the layer of air trapped within that stops energy from being conducted out of the body into the surrounding air. Birds fluff up during the winter to trap more insulating air in their feathers.

A snowy owl sits among the sand dunes and beach grass at Jones Beach. (Photo credit – Sean Hanley and G. Anthony Svatek/Kulturfolger Productions)

When sunlight hits the beach, radiant energy transforms into the kinetic energy of excited electrons in the sand, which vibrate, producing what we experience as warmth. Maybe even too much warmth on a sunny day, as anyone who has walked barefoot knows! The excited electrons also release new photons, wave particles that carry energy away from the sand and produce what we perceive as glare.

A Monarch butterfly among the seaside Goldenrod in the maritime dunes at Jones Beach, harvesting the energy found in the flowers’ nectar. (Photo Credit – Julie Lundgren/NY Natural Heritage Program)

ENERGY DRIVES ECOSYSTEM CONDITIONS


At Jones Beach, dominant winds flow from the west and the north, pushing sand dunes gradually towards the sea. Meanwhile, ocean currents flow parallel to the mainland, pushing sand from east to west and moving the shoreline westward. A jetty constructed in the 1950s at the West End interrupts these currents, causing sand to accumulate on the eastern side while the western channel remains open.

Winter and storm-season waves typically contain more energy, pulling more sediment off the beach and into the water in a process called erosion. When large waves wash over dunes during high tides and storms — a phenomenon called “overtopping” — dunes can flatten and shift. In summer, ocean currents, waves, and winds typically bring sands back onto the beach and dunes in a everchanging cycle.

Jones Beach shoreline change map. (Photo credit – Ruth Nervig/JBENC)
Fresh sands are deposited by summer waves, wind and storms creating open habitat for piping plovers, terns and some rare plants like Seabeach Knotweed and Seabeach Amaranth. (Photo credit – Julie Lundgren/NYNatural Heritage Program)

Water and winds can also influence how species move through Jones Beach. Birds, winged insects, fish, phytoplankton, and various other organisms travel on currents in the air and water, and currents also distribute seeds, eggs, and nutrients that organisms need to survive. Local examples of this include plankton that float on ocean currents, providing food for larger marine animals; shorebirds that depend on the strong sea breeze; and grass seeds spread by water and wind. Although major storms can decimate local populations of some species, most of the plants and animals of this ecosystem are adapted to these natural processes.

Seabeach knotweed (Polygonum glaucum) is a plant that needs open and untrampled beach and dune areas. (Photo credit – Julie Lundgren/NY Natural Heritage Program)
In the aftermath of a hurricane at Jones Beach, the massive energy of the storm washed up this massive uprooted tree trunk. (Photo credit – Julie Lundgren/NY Natural Heritage Program)

ENERGY SHAPES PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE AND PRIVATE LIFE


When planner Robert Moses envisioned Jones Beach State Park in the 1920s, he recognized that the automobile would have an increasing role in daily American life.

The rise of cars was coupled with another innovation by automaker Henry Ford – the assembly line that allowed for costs to be reduced, creating a new class of workers with enough disposable income to purchase the goods they produced, and with more leisure time to allow travel.

Jones Beach State Park was one of the first and most prominent parks to connect this growing urban middle class to the environment.

Automobiles entering Jones Beach on its opening day on Aug. 24, 1929. (Photo credit – New York State Archives)

A map showing the Parks and Parkway envisioned by Robert Moses. (Photo Credit – Long Island State Parks Commission)

In 1924, as the new chairman of the State Parks Commission and President of the Long Island State Parks Commission, Moses began planning a system of “Parks and Parkways” to connect car-owning city residents to beaches and parklands across Long Island. Moses envisioned parkways as an extension of the parks themselves: green spaces that transported urban dwellers to a beautiful natural landscape.

Jones Beach opened in 1929 as a triumph of 20th century engineering. Forty million cubic yards of sand were dredged from the bay to widen the beach and raise its elevation up to 12 feet. Workers hand-planted a million native Beach Grass plants to prevent the taller dunes from blowing away in the wind.

Workers planting Beach Grass during construction at Jones Beach State Park (Photo credit – NYS Parks)
Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata), native to Long Island, has long roots which help create and stabilize the maritime dunes at Jones Beach. (Photo credit – Julie Lundgren/NY Natural Heritage Program)

Moses’s plan for parks and roads across Long Island reflected a new approach to “nature,” one of landscapes constructed intentionally for public enjoyment. The parkways also helped spark a new era of Long Island suburbanization, which greatly increased consumption and the demand for energy.

Many different types of energy come together at the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center. As climate change impacts the globe with rising seas and stronger storms, Jones Beach will model the positive possibilities for access and use of energy. Solar panels that power the Center represent New York’s commitment to expand renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change. Resilient design modeled by the building itself will be key as New York’s communities adapt to rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.

There has never been a more important time for New Yorkers to understand the connections between energy, nature, and society. With the Energy & Us curriculum, young people throughout the state can begin to reconsider about how those forces shape their own lives, and how they can engage with them to transform the future.


Cover shot – Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center, Michael Moran/nArchitects


Post by Olivia Schwob, a writer, researcher, and editor interested in human geography, political economy, and public things. Olivia was Developer of the Energy & Us curriculum from 2020-2021, Curatorial Team Writer for the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center from 2019 – 2020, and Managing Editor of Urban Omnibus, a publication of the Architectural League of New York, from 2016 – 2019. She lives in Brooklyn.

Human Zamboni Machines of Moreau Lake State Park

On of my favorite childhood memories was going to an outdoor ice skating rink behind a warehouse in South Glens Falls in Warren County. It was only a field with a large frozen puddle but to me it was amazing. Years later now in my role as manager at Moreau Lake State Park, I wanted to give people near my park the same opportunity.

I started researching ice rinks and how to make them safe but also affordable for the park. While we do have the lake to work with, lake and pond ice usually is bumpy and cracked, thus making stumbles and falls more likely. As I continued researching online, an image of a homemade Zamboni apparatus popped up. Major ice rinks use large Zamboni machines to lay down smooth coats of ice on indoor rinks, but that kind of heavy machinery was not in my budget, so the hand-made model I saw looked like the way to go!

Using a steady flow of warm water to apply a continuous smooth ice surface just like the big machines, a small, human-powered Zamboni was my solution to make lake ice smooth and safe for skaters.

Our two homemade units were created by Aaron Aiken, a staffer at Moreau, who fabricated them after seeing the online photo. It was amazing. Aaron simply gathered all the materials he needed and finished in a day. We had most of the parts needed on hand at the park so there was little to no cost to us.

Aaron assembled a 55-gallon poly tank (used to hold the warm water), a 10-foot piece of 2-inch PVC pipe, a 2-inch PVC valve, a 4-foot piece of felt or wool (for trailing the water and flattening it out as smooth ice) and a sturdy wheeled cart. With that and a bit of ingenuity _ presto, a human powered Zamboni machine!

Moreau staffers Donna Fortner (left), and Jay Hauser, load up the Zambonis with warm water before going to lay down ice on the rink.

Zambonis work by slowly drizzling out warm water over the surface of existing ice. The warm water melts all the high spots and fills in all the lows before freezing to create a perfectly smooth surface perfect for skating. The operator judges how fast they want water to come out by adjusting the flow with the valve.

At Moreau, our crew pulls a Zamboni around the rink three times before it runs out of water, and then the other Zamboni takes its place. It is important to have two setups because ridges can form in the ice if you stop putting down warm water even for an instant. To create a smooth rink, it took about 110 gallons of water, applied by two Zambonis over six laps, for a total of about an hour of work.

Measuring 250 feet by 100 feet, the outdoor skating rink at Moreau Lake State Park welcomes skaters! The Park has free loaner skates.

Another service that Moreau Lake State Park provides to visitors is the Daily Ice Report. Parks staffers measure the thickness of the ice starting a day after rink ice is laid on, meaning when the ice totally covers the surface of the lake, we wait a day and then start the ice thickness report. Two staff members start at shore with an ice auger and drill through the ice and measure the thickness. If it is under 3 inches they stop at that hole. If it is over 4 inches, they move out 20 feet and drill another hole. They follow the same procedures until it is determined that the average thickness (average readings taken from multiple places on the lake) is at least 6 inches.

When that happens, the lake is opened to skaters, pedestrians and ice fishermen. These ice reports are published over social media every day at 8:00 a.m. until the ice is safe and then these reports are replaced by the open one.

All this comes together to make the lake a safe and enjoyable place to recreate in the winter. At our rink, located just off the beach, a campfire is usually going nearby so skaters can warm themselves. So grab your skates (or borrow ours) and give us a visit!

Cover shot – Moreau staffer Jay Hauser (foreground) pulls a homemade Zamboni around the skating rink at Moreau Lake State Park, as fellow staffer Donna Fortner comes along behind with the second Zamboni . All images NYS Parks unless otherwise noted.

Post by Al LaFountain, Park Manager, Moreau Lake State Park and Grant Cottage State Historic Site

More about Moreau Lake State Park


Covering some 6,250 acres in Saratoga County, Moreau Lake State Park features hardwood forests, pine stands, and rocky ridges. More than 30 miles of hiking trails are available, and can be used for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter. Snowshoe rentals are available.

Last year, Governor Kathy Hochul announced an 860-acre expansion of this park to include spectacular natural habitat along an undeveloped stretch of the Hudson River that will be known as Big Bend Point.  This acquisition makes Moreau Lake State Park one of the ten largest parks in the state park system.


Resources


Learn about a Gilded Age ice skater who helped promote figure skating for women from this previous blog post by the curator at Staatsburgh State Historic Site.

Gilded Age Ice Skater Carved Early Path

Staatsburgh State Historic Site, formerly the Gilded Age estate of the very wealthy and socially-prominent Ruth Livingston Mills and her husband, financier and philanthropist Ogden Mills, sits along the eastern bank of the Hudson River in the mid-Hudson Valley. Commanding a view of the river and the Catskill Mountains, the estate’s Beaux-Arts mansion was once … Continue reading Gilded Age Ice Skater Carved Early Path

A hand-operated Zamboni machine is on display at the Original Hockey Hall of Fame in Museum, in Kingston, Ontario, where it is also described as a “hand flooder.” (Photo credit – Wikipedia Commons)

“Skating is in my heart, not my head.” – Olympic Medalist Michelle Kwan

Holiday Points of Light at Grafton Lakes State Park

Lights have long been associated with the holiday season, along with family, holiday cheer, and guiltlessly indulging in your sweet tooth.

At Grafton Lakes State Park in Rensselaer County, staff chose to embrace that season of light by placing dozens of luminaria along trails for the park’s inaugural annual holiday “Luminary Walk” in December. What are luminaria, one might ask? ( Hint: It is not the plural of luminary.)

Originating in the Philippines after it became a Spanish colony at the beginning of the 16th century, luminaria are small paper lanterns with candles used to mark the Christmas season. Originally made then from bamboo and paper coming from China, the Philippine tradition of luminaria was brought eastward by Spanish traders into the southwestern North America and Mexico when that region was still controlled by Spain.

Today, holiday luminaria as a reflection of a holiday contribution of Hispanic culture are a common sight in the southwestern United States, including New Mexico and Arizona, but have become popular in other parts of the country as well.

To bring that festive glow into the northern forests at Grafton, parks staff led by Tamara Beal arranged for more than 125 luminaria for the festival, while also seeing to it that firewood was stacked, marshmallows were prepped on sticks, and hot coco was steaming by the jugful.

Each light was powered by three triple AAA batteries and each white paper bag required a precisely cut wooden block to weigh down the bag. The maintenance staff cut the blocks and strung lights along the boardwalk for the event. All 125 bags with lights and blocks were put together, loaded up into a utility vehicle and spaced out along a half-mile of trail by staffers Rebecca Milanese and Ava Bassallo.

Check out the slideshow of the luminaria trail below…

Under crystal dark skies and the light of a full moon in December, an unprecedented 900 people showed up for the event and to walk the illuminated paths.

With Holiday music wafting from the Welcome Center back patio, there was a general buzz of happiness and joy. Visitors warmed up by the fire with marshmallow and stick in hand, creating a tasty treat. Children sat down inside stimulating their imaginations to create one-of-kind holiday crafts. Behind the scenes, volunteers and staff members were serving the public, refilling the hot chocolate jug, breaking up pieces of chocolate, restocking the crafts, and more.

The magical illuminated journey began on the boardwalk just beyond the back patio. As the Holiday music faded, a serene silence welcomed the wanderer. Each step in the light a reminder of fond Holiday memories. Up the stairs of the replica fire tower, with a bird’s eye view, the forest twinkled in brilliance. Just beyond the forest, romance rolled on the wind by the lake as many couples opted for a moonlit stroll.

What was originally foreseen by event coordinator, Tamara Beal, as being a small quaint event, left hundreds of people renewed in their holiday cheer in a park dotted with dozens of warm points of light. Thank you to all those who came out and to staff members and volunteers who dedicated their time and contributed to the magic.


Cover shot – Replica Fire Tower with luminaria at Grafton Lakes State Park. All photos by NYS Parks unless otherwise noted.

Post by Tamara Beal, Environmental Educator, Grafton Lakes State Park

Check out future events at Grafton Lakes State Parks here.

Moonlight over Long Pond at Grafton Lakes State Park (Photo Credit – Deborah Balcanoff, used with permission)

***UPDATE***

Interested in attending an upcoming luminaria walk? There is one scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 24, 2021 at Moreau Lake State Park in Saratoga County. Click here for more details.

Camping in the Round

While State Parks offers more than 8,100 campsites, 825 cabins, and 136 full-service cabins across New York, in the western part of the state, there is another kind of camping option available – yurts.

A yurt is a round fabric shelter on a raised platform, with a roof, door, and windows that provides more shelter and room than a ground tent yet is a simpler accommodation than a traditional wood-framed cabin. The history of yurts traces back about 3,000 years to central Asia, where nomadic peoples used these portable homes as they moved around vast treeless grassland plains, known as steppes.

Yurt is a Turkish adaptation of the Mongolian word “ger” (meaning “home”) originally used to describe such residences, which were meant to be easy to assemble and disassemble as their owners moved with their horses and livestock throughout the seasons. Yurts are formed by a circular wooden lattice wall that supports wooden rafters attached to a elevated center ring, with the structure draped in fabric, originally felt, wool or hides. Being round, yurts were perfectly designed to resist high winds common in the region, since the shape has no corners or flat spots to catch wind gusts.

According to historians, the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan led his vast armies from his command post in a large yurt that moved from battlefield to battlefield.

The historical importance of the yurt to the region is represented in the official flag of the republic of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia. The flag consists of a red field charged with a yellow sun that contains a depiction of a “tunduk,” the opening in the center of the roof of a yurt. This view is what someone might see looking up upon awakening in a yurt

The state flag of Kyrgyzstan, featuring a representation of the center opening in a yurt’s roof. (Photo Credit – Wikipedia)
A Mongolian ger on the steppe at Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park in southern Mongolia. (Photo Credit- Wikipedia Commons, Uploaded by Adagio at English Wikipedia)

Easy and quick to build, this ancient design arrived in America during the 1970s as part of the simplified “back to the land” movement, slowly developing a following as an inexpensive form of housing that could be assembled in a day. The structures have been gaining popularity in recent years as a camping accommodation that puts its residents close to nature, while offering more comfort and sturdier protection against the elements than a tent. Modern yurts are meant primarily to be kept in place as semi-permanent structures, although they still can be taken apart and moved if necessary.

Three state parks in western New York now offer yurts as places to camp _ Four Mile Creek and Golden Hill state parks in Niagara County, and Evangola State Park in Erie County. Made from wooden lattice and rafters covered with heavy-duty fabric and insulation, these yurts feature a domed roof, windows, and bunk beds, as well as a refrigerator, microwave, and heating/AC units.

The yurts at both Four Mile Creek and Golden Hill at located closed to Lake Ontario and offer beautiful views. Golden Hill’s yurts are situated so that the decks provide a view of both sunrises and sunsets with Golden Hill’s Thirty Mile Lighthouse in sight. Take a slideshow tour of the Golden Hill yurts below…

At Evangola, the yurts are located next to a fishing pond, and just a short walk to the park’s Lake Erie shoreline.

Campers who have stayed in the yurts tell State Parks that they like it because it’s “in-between” camping in a tent and a cabin, being particularly useful for those who might not have all the gear needed for tent camping.

When the first yurts went up in 2013 at Four Mile Creek, New York State Parks joined a growing number of state parks across the country embracing this form of shelter as a camping alternative.

A yurt at Four Mile Creek State Park with an ADA accessible ramp.

According to industry accounts, the first two yurts in a state park in the U.S. went up in Oregon in 1993. Now, some two dozen state park systems across the country have added yurts.

The yurts in New York’s state parks are 20 feet in diameter, which results in about 330 square feet of interior living space and plenty of head room. While that might seem spacious for those used to maneuvering around a tent, that is a far cry from the largest yurt in the world. The so-called “White Building” (Ak Öýi) in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat, dedicated in 2015, is in the form of a yurt more than 200 feet in diameter that stands about 100 feet high, with three separate stories holding a café, offices, apartments and an auditorium with 3,000 seats!

So, when considering camping at State Parks in western New York, think about trying out a yurt. Three thousand years of history can’t be wrong!

A traditional yurt on a cart in contemporary Kazakhstan. (Photo Credit- Wikipedia Commons/Creative Commons)

Cover Shot- A yurt at Four Mile Creek State Park. All shots credited to NYS Parks unless otherwise noted.

Post by Brian Nearing, Deputy Public Information Officer, NYS Parks

Resources

All reservations for New York State Park yurts, campsites, cabins, and full-service cottages are handled through the ReserveAmerica website.