Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

April 18, 2018

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

New York State Parks Dedicates $3.2 Million Grafton Lakes State Park Welcome Center

Center provides year-round space for enhanced educational, recreational and volunteer programming

Project a part of NY Parks 2020, a Multi-Year Commitment to Revitalize the State Park System

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today dedicated the new $3.2 million Grafton Lakes State Park Welcome Center, providing a new sustainably designed year-round public gathering space for improved educational, recreational and volunteer programming at the Rensselaer County park. The project was funded by Governor Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 program to revitalize the state park system.

"There's so much to enjoy at Grafton Lakes State Park and the new Park Center will help visitors to experience all of it," said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks). "As we celebrate Earth Week, it's great to see how Governor Cuomo's revitalization of the park system is connecting new generations of visitors and tourists to these incredible places."

The 5,000-square-foot Grafton Lakes State Park Welcome Center provides new indoor and outdoor space to host educational, recreational and volunteer activities in all four seasons. The facility is situated at the north end of the Long Pond Beach parking lot to be convenient to the heart of activity in the park.

The Welcome Center provides much-needed activity space to expand and enhance the park's environmental education programs, which already serve about 7,000 children and families annually. Grafton Lakes State Park is involved in Rensselaer Youth Outdoors, a network of partners that introduces and engages the children and families of Rensselaer County to the wonder, science and adventure of nature. The new welcome center will host school groups and professional development opportunities for teachers engaged through this partnership.

Additional features include:

  • Exhibit areas to highlight the ecology of the park and the Rensselaer Plateau;
  • Outdoor patio with terraced seating and fire pit as well as an indoor wood-burning hearth;
  • Sustainable design, including a photovoltaic system, geothermal heating and cooling, LED and natural lighting, low-flow plumbing features and storm-water controls;
  • Information desk and interactive orientation kiosk to help visitors explore the park's expansive trail network and other features;
  • Adjacent playground featuring a replica of the park's Dickinson Hill fire tower and a boardwalk trail to the beach
  • Centrally located park offices and public restrooms.

Grafton Lakes Welcome Center will host a Community Celebration - an open house with live animals, refreshments, and fun for all ages - on Saturday, May 26th from 11-1. The event is included with the gate fee entry to the park for the day.

"Earth Week and every week, it's important to remember that parks are truly special places: they recharge our batteries, lift our spirits, help us disconnect from our 'smart' phones and reconnect us with everything that's great about New York's great outdoors. The opening of the $3.2 million Grafton Lakes State Park Center announced by Governor Cuomo will continue the wonderful tradition of our parks playing a vital role in enhancing our quality of life and supporting local programming for the enjoyment of thousands of Rensselaer County families and all New Yorkers. This announcement is welcome news and yet another terrific reason to make visiting Grafton Lakes State Park part of your to-do list," said New York State Senator Kathy Marchione.

"The Welcome Center is a great enhancement to visitors' experiences at Grafton Lakes State Park - inviting visitors to inquire and learn about what the Park, as well as our glorious natural surroundings here in Grafton have to offer year-round," said Town of Grafton Supervisor Ingrid Gundrum.

"The new Grafton Lakes Visitor Center exemplifies a vision shared by the Park, RPA, and our other partners of bringing nature to people of all ages, especially children. We're so excited that the Rensselaer Plateau is featured prominently, highlighting this very special place. The new Center will be a great asset to the community for years to come," Jim Bonesteel, Executive Director of the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance.

Grafton Lakes State Park, visited by 250,000 people annually, sits on the forested plateau between the Taconic Mountains and the Hudson Valley. The 2,500-acre park boasts six scenic ponds, including Long Pond, where the large, sandy beach is a popular summer swimming destination. Visitors also picnic; walk the nature trails; hike, bike or ride horses along the 25 miles of park trails; or canoe, kayak, and fish in the ponds. In winter, the trails are groomed for snowmobilers, and visitors may also snowshoe, cross-country ski, ice skate or go ice fishing.

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 revitalize the state park system. The 2018-19 State Budget allocates $90 million toward this initiative.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more 250 individual parks, historic sites, golf courses, recreational trails and boat launches, which are visited by 71 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit