Letchworth State Park
Letchworth State Park is a large state park on the western edge of the Finger Lakes region of New York. The Genesee River has carved a magnificent gorge through this area, including a series of three waterfalls, some of which are between cliffs that can reach 600 feet in height. These geographical features have earned the park its nickname, The Grand Canyon of the East.
Letchworth State Park was carved by the action of the Genessee River. The river slowly eroded away soft layers of rock, creating a deep gorge with three large waterfalls. The Seneca Indians called the area Sehgahunda, meaning the "Vale of Three Falls," forming several villages within what are now the park boundaries. Many of the trails in the park today are based on actual Seneca trails, which were used for river access.
William Pryor Letchworth, a 19th-century Buffalo industrialist, liked the view and bought the gorge land for use as a Summer home (Glen Iris). As his death approached, the elderly Letchworth decided to protect the gorge from hydro-power development by deeding it to the State for use as a park in 1906.
Letchworth SP is roughly 60 miles ESE of Buffalo, which is served by several large air-carriers and has a border crossing from Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. The park is about 85 miles from Niagara Falls, 55 miles from Rochester, and less than an hour's drive from the center of the Finger Lakes region.
The park is close to Interstate 390 and served by several state highways of good quality. Roads within the park are all hard-surfaced, with ample parking at major sightseeing points.
The primary draws of Letchworth are the amazing views of the waterfalls. Glen Iris, Letchworth's mansion, has been preserved as a restaurant, hotel, and gift shop. A museum facility is located close to the mansion. A Seneca council house has been preserved on the grounds.
Hiking and photography are favorite pastimes here. Picnic facilities and playground equipment are available for families. 270 campsites are available, with outdoor pools and shower facilities.
Gift shops sell items commonly requested by visitors, such as souvenir clothing and camera batteries.
The Glen Iris mansion has a formal-dining restaurant, and small snack-bar facilities are located in other areas of the park. Nearby towns have additional dining options.
Only the Glen Iris restaurant serves alcohol (such as local Finger Lakes wines), with meals.
270 campsites, 82 cabins, a small motel-style facility, and the Glen Iris Bed & Breakfast rooms (upstairs at the mansion).
Letchworth is located within an hour's drive of Buffalo, Rochester, Corning, and the Finger Lakes region. Many older villages and towns dot the countryside around the park boundaries. The entire area is hilly with pretty vistas.