Tag Archives: saratoga spa state park

Sweet Dreams: Explore State Parks’ Remote Islands, Cabins, Resorts and More

When it comes to planning a vacation or getaway, New York State Parks has overnight options for all kinds of adventures – and budgets!

While some enjoy sleeping in tents away from it all in remote, natural settings under the stars, others crave a few more amenities. Whether you prefer booking rustic cabins and bringing your RV, staying in fully equipped cottages, or resting your head at a historic inn or resort with the comforts of home, State Parks has something for everyone. 

Our Parks system includes 8,148 campsites, 967 cabins and cottages, 18 yurts, three inns, and – yes – a lighthouse. There are countless adventures for every type of stay. Get a map handy and explore highlights from some of our most interesting properties to inspire your next stay.  

La Isla Bonita  

If you have a boat or have access to renting one, answer the siren song of the water and consider the benefits of staying on one of three island parks in the Thousand Islands that are only accessible by boat. 

Canoe Point Island in the Thousand Islands region.

Who’s On Deck? 

Why worry about clearing your campsite for the tent when you can enjoy a level platform? Platform camping provides a wooden deck floor for pitching your tent on a smoother and more even surface. 

A camping deck in Lake Taghkanic State Park in Ancram, NY.

Cabins and Cottages and a Lighthouse (Oh My!)  

The perfect place for a family reunion on the Great Lakes? Check. Lakefront luxe in the Finger Lakes for a bachelorette wine-tasting weekend? Check. Thousand Islands waterfront cabin for anglers telling fish tales about the day’s catch? Check. Memories to last a lifetime? Check, check, check.   

Robert Wehle State Park’s cliffside compound, Thousand Islands region.
  • Robert Wehle State Park features a private setting that accommodates eight, and includes a compound with a main house, guest quarters, studio, and formal gardens set cliffside along the Lake Ontario shorefront.  
A cabin porch at Betty and Wilbur Davis State Park near Cooperstown, NY.
  • Fans of America’s pastime can stay at a cottage at Betty and Wilbur Davis State Park near Cooperstown and head to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, then go old school and listen to a game on the radio from the cottage’s front porch. 
  • The eastern shore of Seneca Lake is home to Sampson State Park in the Finger Lakes. The park’s waterfront cottages and campsites make an ideal setting for picturesque sunsets. You can also take advantage of the marina and boat slips to enjoy the views from the water. The park regularly draws visitors for its proximity to the region’s famous wine trails. 
Thirty-Mile Point Lighthouse available to rent at Golden Hill State Park in the Thousand Islands region.
  • Thirty-Mile Point Lighthouse at Golden Hill State Park on Lake Ontario is one of the most unique lodging options within the park system. Less than an hour from Niagara Falls, the second floor of the lighthouse has a three-bedroom suite available for rental and you don’t even have to know maritime navigation!  
Rustic cabins at Bowman Lake State Park in Oxford, NY, in State Parks’ Central region.
  • Affordably priced, the rustic cabins at Bowman Lake State Park are great for any family vacation. These cabins are the perfect in-between for campers who like both tents and cabins. Offering protection from the elements, these one-room shelters sleep four or six, but have no electricity or water. 
  • Westcott Beach State Park near Henderson Harbor has a beautiful beach, sheltered marina and access to world class boating, fishing, and other watersports. In addition to campsites, the park has eight cottages atop a plateau with stunning water views. These deluxe two-bedrooms include a loft, living room, full kitchen, full bath, and outdoor patio for the ultimate in accommodations. 
Lakeside Cabin at Moreau Lake State Park in Gansevoort, NY, in our Saratoga / Capital region.
  • In the foothills of the Adirondacks, Moreau Lake State Park offers incredibly scenic lodging with water gently lapping outside the cabin door and easy access to trails. 
Cabins along the beach at Heckscher State Park on Long Island. (Photo credit: Alice Park)
  • On the Great South Bay, conveniently located to popular ocean beaches, Heckscher State Park is a Long Island favorite, featuring 15 cottages and a 69-site campground for tents, trailers, and RVs. 
Cabin life at Allegany State Park in Western New York. (Photo credit: Sabrina Kornowski)
  • At 65,000 acres, Allegany State Park is not only the largest state park in New York, but its two areas, Quaker and Red House are the most welcoming for winter sports enthusiasts. The park heats up when the temperatures drop, with cozy winter cabin and cottage rentals available for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snow shoeing. 

Yurt Going to Love These  

If round and conical are your favorite shapes, we’ve got a sweet getaway idea for you and your bunkmates. Used traditionally by nomads in Central Asia, yurts are wood lattice-framed structures with heavy duty fabric sides.  

Yurt accommodations at Four Mile Creek State Park in Youngstown, NY, in State Parks’ Niagara region.
  • You can find yurts at Four Mile Creek, Evangola, and Golden Hill State Parks in the Niagara region. State Parks’ versions have windows, a domed roof (and skylight!), wood floors, and creature comforts like cots with mattresses, a refrigerator, microwave, and air conditioning. 

Triple Threat: Camping, Swimming, and Golf 

Several popular state parks showcase three-destinations-in-one for a fun summer trifecta: a campground, swimming beach, and golf course. What’s not to love? 

Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville, NY, in our Central region. (Photo credit: Denise White)
  • Stunning Green Lakes State Park looks like it belongs in the Caribbean because of the deep color of its two glacial lakes, but it’s actually located just outside of Syracuse. With campsites, cabins, a popular beach, trails, and an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones designed golf course, the park is a Central New York favorite. And for an added bonus, the park is adjacent to the Empire State Trail
Beaches and more at Chenango Valley State Park in State Parks’ Central region. (Photo credit: Traci Parks)
  • The Southern Tier’s Chenango Valley State Park just north of Binghamton has more than 1,200 acres and includes a beautiful beachfront and swimming area, multi-use trails, campsites and cabins, and an 18-hole course. 
Wellesley Island State Park in the Thousand Islands. (Photo credit: Mary Forgea)
  • Wellesley Island State Park really brings it. With campsites, cabins and cottages, a sandy beach on the river, marina, boat launches, pavilions, trails, a 9-hole golf course, and the notable Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, this flagship park is the heart of the Thousand Islands.   


Most people don’t think about formal accommodations when they hear “State Parks,” but we have some phenomenal lodging options that might surprise you. For those who appreciate the outdoors but would prefer more traditional sleeping quarters, our inns are not to be missed. Just a few examples:

The Glen Iris Resort in Letchworth State Park in the Finger Lakes region.
  • The Glen Iris Inn has the front seat to a beautiful view in the northeast: the Middle Falls along the Genesee River gorge at Letchworth State Park. Known as the Grand Canyon of the East, this park southwest of Rochester sparks awe, from the inn’s bird’s eye view in a hot air balloon to white water rafting along the river below.
The Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa in Saratoga Spa State Park.
  • In Saratoga Springs, the town is bustling during summer’s track season, and the National Historic Landmark Saratoga Spa State Park wows visitors, welcoming them along its iconic Avenue of the Pines to the elegant Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa, nestled among the trails and natural springs. Saratoga Spa State Park offers a choice of two golf courses and pampering in the resort’s spa. Museums, a theater, two pool complexes, and a renowned performing arts center round out the on-site attractions at the park.
Bear Mountain Inn in Bear Mountain State Park in the Taconic region.
  • And sure it’s cool that people rough it and spend time completing the Appalachian Trail, but with the historic Bear Mountain Inn just about an hour north of New York City, you can stay at the namesake park, hike the original start of the famous AT, and then have a spa treatment and brunch.

Get Your Group On  

Group Camps, often ranging in accommodations for between 20-100 people, can be a great alternative for your family reunion or larger group outing.  

  • At Stony Brook State Park, the campsite can hold 60 people and is located in a remote area so that your group is secluded from other campers, adding to the group camping experience. Grills, picnic tables, fire rings, and facilities are available with showers nearby.   

Now that you a have a better sense of your options, we invite you to discover these overnight stays – and many more – among the wonders of nature, including scenic trails, crystal clear waters, and sandy beaches. Luckily, finding the perfect location for your next getaway has never been easier.  

Whether you plan months ahead or are the more spontaneous traveler, you can book a stay at a New York state park from up to 3 p.m. on the day of arrival* to 9 months in advance by calling toll-free 1-800-456-CAMP or visiting http://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com. [Same-day reservations will be allowed until 3pm on day of arrival; this applies to campsites only. Cabins, cottages, and yurts can be reserved as late as 1-day prior to arrival.]   

Insider Tips?

Review the Camping Guide: Our NY State Parks Camping Guide is available online. Scroll down on each digital panel to get more information on options.

Check our Inventory: For prospective campers who find themselves without plans for an upcoming few days, check out the Camping This Weekend tab on our site to see what’s available throughout the Parks system. The listings are updated the Wednesday before each weekend.  

Earn Points: Be sure to sign up for the New York State Parks Loyalty/Rewards Program. Earn ten points for every dollar you spend on overnight accommodations at New York State Parks Campgrounds. Start earning points on new reservations as soon as you are enrolled. Stay more, get more!  

-Written by Wendy Gibson, Public Affairs Bureau

Getting to Know the Karner Blue Butterfly

Spring has finally arrived, and with it comes the birth of this year’s first generation of Karner blue caterpillars.  When these caterpillars hatch from the eggs that were laid by last year’s second generation of adults, they will eat only one thing, the leaves of the wild blue lupine plant.  And you thought your kids were picky eaters!

Wild blue lupine is a perennial plant that prefers dry, sandy soils in open patches of land.  It is typically found in pine barrens and oak savanna plant communities.  These habitats require ecological disturbances, such as wildfires, to sustain the sunny, open areas that wild blue lupine needs to survive.  Land development and the suppression of natural disturbances in these areas have led to degradation and loss of habitat, causing drastic declines in Karner blue butterfly populations. As a result of this, the Karner blue butterfly was declared endangered in New York in 1977 and federally endangered in 1992.  The Karner blue butterfly’s range extends from Minnesota to New Hampshire, along the northern portion of the blue lupine’s range.  In New York, populations are found from the Albany Pine Bush north to Glens Falls, with a segment of suitable habitat found in Saratoga Spa State Park.

Lupine 1
Wild blue lupine. Photo by USFWS; Joel Trick.

There are two generations of Karner blue butterflies born each year, the first of which hatches in May from eggs that were laid the previous July.  This timing coincides with the blooming of wild blue lupine flower stalks.  The caterpillars spend about two to three weeks feeding on wild blue lupine leaves before they pupate.  The adult Karner blue butterflies emerge at the end of May or beginning of June and typically live for about a week.  During this time, the adult females lay their eggs on the underside of wild blue lupine leaves or stems.  The eggs take around a week to hatch and the second generation of adults appear in mid-July to early August.  This time the females lay their eggs on the ground close to the stem of a blue lupine plant to provide them with more protection as they overwinter.

Larva 2
Karner blue caterpillar (larva). Photo by Paul Labus, The Nature Conservancy, Indiana.

Adult Karner blue butterflies are relatively small, with an average wingspan of about one inch.  You can tell the difference between males and females by looking at the coloration on the tops of their wings.  Males’ wings are silvery blue to violet blue with a black margin and white fringed edges, while females’ wings are grayish brown towards the edges, turning into violet-blue in the centers of the wings.  Both males and females are gray with black spots on their undersides and have a band of orange crescents along the edges of both wings.  Females also have bands of orange crescents on the tops of their wings, while males do not.

There are 18.5 acres of endangered Karner blue butterfly habitat in Saratoga Spa State Park.  In recent years, restoration efforts have re-established approximately 5 of these acres as suitable Karner blue butterfly habitat.  This was accomplished through the removal of small trees and shrubs that had taken over the habitat, as well as the scraping away of topsoil to remove invasive plant seeds and to expose the sandy soils that wild blue lupine needs to grow.  Wild blue lupine and native nectar species were then planted in the exposed sandy soil.  Saratoga Spa State Park staff monitors the Karner blue butterfly population and provide educational programs to the public about this endangered beauty.

In celebration of Earth Day, students from the Waldorf School contributed to the Karner blue butterfly habitat restoration effort by spreading the seed of the native blue lupine plant on 1.5 acres at Saratoga Spa State Park. Funding for this project was provided by Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 Initiative.

Saratoga Earth Day 2015 - 01
Waldorf School students spreading blue lupine seed. Photo by John Rozell, OPRHP.

Saratoga Earth Day 2015 - 05
Waldorf School students replenishing their seed supply. Photo by John Rozell, OPRHP.


Post by Allie Smith, Saratoga Spa State Park.


Karner blue butterfly factsheet, NYS DEC,


Karner blue butterfly, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species, http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/insects/kbb/kbb_fact.html

Karner blue butterfly, USDA Forest Service,


Karner blue butterfly factsheet, NYS DEC,


Wild lupine and karner blue butterflies, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Endangered Species,






Saratoga Spring

No, I didn’t forget an s.  After months of cold, brown surroundings, the spring season is beginning to breathe new life into our little town.  I’m not talking sundresses and flip-flops just yet.  No, the subtle signs of spring are what you and your kids are after.  Tiny harbingers that chip away at the dirty parking lot snow and melt your wintery heart drip by drip.  This time of year, if you’re watching closely, they seem to appear daily.  There are many family-friendly places for you to visit and experience early spring in the capital region, and we can tell you where to start!

Have you ever driven past a pond on a warm evening in April or May?  The next time you do, roll your windows down.  The chilly breeze will carry a chorus of peepers into your car and surround you with spring.  The tiny animal that makes this huge noise is called a Spring Peeper.  It is a frog the size of a postage stamp!  In Saratoga Spa State Park, the sound of peepers is the first true sign that spring is around the corner.  For a special glimpse of this frog, join Spa Park’s FrogWatch.  On the last Thursday evening of April, a Park Naturalist will guide visitors through a special wetland where they get a chance to hear and see the little frog with a huge voice!

A spring peeper at Wellesley Island State Park. Photo by Julie Lundgren, NYNHP.
A spring peeper at Wellesley Island State Park. Photo by Julie Lundgren, NYNHP.

Another of Saratoga’s spring sounds comes from a sharply dressed male bird called the Red Wing Blackbird.  These birds fly south to escape the snow and ice, but they are one of the first to arrive back from their winter vacation.  Smaller than a crow but just as loud, the blackbirds congregate in tall grasses and proclaim their territory with a raucous “okalacheeee!”.  To hear them yourself, visit Moreau Lake State Park on a sunny day and bring your binoculars to see their wings flash red!

Photo courtesty of Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/texaseagle/14121019609.

After all of this peeping and proclaiming, perhaps your family would enjoy a quiet walk to enjoy a silent sign of spring.  Visit Saratoga Spa State Park’s Hemlock Trail for a short, flat walk to see the first spring plant, the Skunk Cabbage.  This magenta and green flower unfurls from the swampy sections of Saratoga.  It gets its name from the acrid odor it releases when it is crushed.  Later in the spring, the strange looking flower will be replaced by large, showy green leaves.  To see and smell this plant for yourself, go to the Hemlock Trail entrance on Crescent Avenue in Saratoga Springs.  You’ll find the plants about half way around the mile-long loop.

We hope you enjoy your outings in our state parks, and everywhere spring is sprouting.  Each day of this special season provides a new opportunity for you and your family to explore the outside world!

For more information regarding outings at Saratoga Spa State Park, please call the Environmental Educator at (518) 584-2000 Ext. 116.

Check out these additional spring-themed events that are happening across the state:

Vernal Pool Exploration for Families @ Minnewaska State Park Preserve, April 25

Family Adventure: Night of the Frogs @ Connetquot River State Park Preserve, May 30

Family Fun: Tadpole Expedition @ Caleb Smith State Park Preserve, May 31

Pre-registration is required for most programs.

Post by Alli Schweizer, Saratoga Spa State Park.