Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

March 20, 2015

Randy Simons | Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868 |

State Parks Encourages New Yorkers to Vote for Letchworth and Watkins Glen in Nationwide Contest

One Week Left to Vote Letchworth and Watkins Glen Best State Park in the Nation

Final Push Needed to Move Second and Third Ranked Parks to the Top by March 30

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) today encouraged New Yorkers to lift Letchworth State Park and Watkins Glen State Park to the top in the final week of voting for the 2015 USA TODAY Readers' Choice Award for Best State Park. The state parks are currently ranked second and third respectively among the 20 nominated for the honor across the country. Voting closes March 30.

"We're excited and honored by the recognition of Letchworth and Watkins Glen as two of the best state parks in the nation," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "The diverse, unforgettable features of each park make them magnificent experiences for all – from families to those seeking adventure. Thank you to the USA Today selection committee for turning the nation's attention to these very deserving destinations. We encourage those that enjoy these state parks to vote."

Of the 20 nominees chosen by USA Today's panel of travel experts, New York, California and Florida are the only states represented with more than one state park in the poll.

Letchworth State Park, located in Castile, NY, is renowned as the "Grand Canyon of the East" and is one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. The Genesee River roars through the gorge over three major waterfalls between cliffs — as high as 600 feet in some places – surrounded by lush forests. Hikers can choose among 66 miles of hiking trails. Trails are also available for horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Letchworth offers spectacular scenery, history and performing arts programs, guided walks and tours, a summer lecture series, whitewater rafting, kayaking, hot air ballooning and a pool for swimming.

Watkins Glen State Park is the most visited of the Finger Lakes State Parks, with a reputation for leaving visitors spellbound. Within two miles, the glen's stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Campers and day visitors can enjoy the Olympic-size pool, scheduled summer tours through the gorge, tent and trailer campsites, picnic facilities and excellent fishing in nearby Seneca Lake or Catherine Creek, which is renowned for its annual spring run of rainbow trout.

Currently, both parks have received enough votes to rank within the top five. Votes can be submitted at until Monday, March 30 at 11:59am EST.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 62 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.