Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

April 01, 2015

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

Letchworth State Park Named Best State Park in the U.S.

Western NY State Park came out on top in national reader's choice poll

Watkins Glen rounds out top three in national poll

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today announced Letchworth State Park, one of New York State's flagship parks, won the top spot in the 2015 USA TODAY Readers' Choice Award for Best State Park.

"We are extremely honored in the selection of Letchworth State Park as the nation's Best State Park in the USA Today Readers Poll," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "We are equally thrilled that New York State was one of only three states with more than one park nominated, with Watkins Glen taking third place. Thank you to everyone who showed your love for both Letchworth and Watkins Glen by voting, and congratulations to all the nominees on their recognition for the wonderful ways they help visitors enjoy the outdoors."

Letchworth State Park, known as the "Grand Canyon of the East," welcomes 650,000 visitors to Castile, NY each year to explore 66 miles of hiking trails available for hiking, horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing, in addition to nature, history and performing arts programs, guided walks, tours, a summer lecture series, camping, kayaking, swimming, whitewater rafting, and hot air ballooning.

Construction of a new state-of-the-art nature center is set to begin at the park this spring, which will serve as a welcoming gateway and educate visitors to the park's natural offerings, rich geological history and diverse ecosystems. A testament to the draw of the park in all seasons, the park received international attention this past February for its 50-foot "ice volcano" that formed from a typically small geyser fountain.

Letchworth and Watkins Glen were two of 20 nominees chosen for the contest from more than 6,000 state parks across the United States. Watkins Glen State Park, of New York's Finger Lakes region, also won a spot in the top three, finishing third.

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor's 2015-16 Executive Budget allocates $110 million toward this initiative.

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.