The Best Places to Go Camping in New York, USA

A unique stay in one of New Yorks idyllic camping sites
A unique stay in one of New York's idyllic camping sites | © Tentrr
Nick Dauk

Skyscrapers and city life come to mind when the Empire State enters a conversation, but New York’s natural beauty deserves just as much attention. The rivers, forests, mountains and lakes are just as diverse and engaging as any cityscape. From the Finger Lakes to the shores of Long Island, there are thousands of trails that offer spectacular vistas. Whether you prefer to bike and hike or row and relax, these camping in New York options will show you the best side of the state.

1. Whiteface Mountain

Hill Station, Natural Feature

Summit trail on Whiteface Mountain overlooking the Adirondacks on a clear day
© Michael Dwyer / Alamy Stock Photo
Drive it or hike it – either way, summiting Whiteface Mountain should be at the top of your priority list. Sandwiched between the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness and the Sentinel Range Wilderness, Whiteface Mountain draws a crowd during the winter months. If you’re not one for skiing, the slopes are just as fun without the snow, and the views won’t disappoint during any season. You’ll never tire of the mountain view, but if you do want a change of scenery, the High Falls Gorge has a glass-floor walkway for you to gaze down at its impressive waterfall.

2. Overlook Lean To


Camping cabin made from wood with chairs in front and a bed inside in a forest at Overlook Lean To
© Tentrr

Leave the tent at home when you sleep under the stars in this lean-to, just outside of McCollum’s. Their three-sided shelter faces a campfire and is adjacent to an outhouse. You and your crew of five are welcome to pitch a tent and use the futon bed with mosquito netting. The ground of this hilltop can be mighty solid at times, so bringing sleeping bags or sleeping pads isn’t a bad idea. A cooler and camp stove are included in your stay, although use of firewood, the hot shower, and snowshoes will cost you a few dollars extra.

3. Bear Mountain State Park


View over green and yellow trees and hills in the Hudson Valley on a sunny autumn afternoon
© Mihai Andritoiu / Alamy Stock Photo
The lush and rugged Bear Mountain State Park claws it away across the Hudson River’s west side, offering both complete solitude and lively attractions. The young – and young at heart – won’t mind skipping a hike for the zoo, ice rink and merry-go-round at the northern end of the park. If you’re looking to get as close to lost as possible, there are miles of marked hiking trails that’ll send you deep into the mountains with the confidence of returning safely. Bear Mountain certainly earns its namesake, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled and your packs secured when camping here.

4. The Back 40


Tent on decking with two wooden chairs in the forest on a sunny day
© Tentrr

Looking to rough it near Walton without actually roughing it? Let the Back 40 spoil you with amenities like a refrigerator, ice maker, a tent with a fan, hammock, electric outlet, a shed bathroom – with running water and so much more. Cooking and eating seem effortless with the campfire grill, wood stove and camp table, though restaurants are only ten minutes away if you’d rather leave the dishes to someone else. This secluded pond-front campsite has plenty of logging paths running through its forest.

5. Taughannock Falls State Park


Taughannock Falls waterfall amid forest and cliffs
© Christina Rollo / Alamy Stock Photo

One look at the towering waterfall and you’ll see where Taughannock Falls State Park gets its name. Trails from the gorge to the rim offer views from every vantage point. Follow the flowing water to Cayuga Lake where boating and beach bumming is the norm. Miles of multi-use trail are perfect hiking, made better still by winter’s transformation into ideal spaces to cross-country ski en-route to finding the perfect spot to sled or ice skate. Don’t stop at Taughannock Falls, though; get to know the rest of the region, beginning with the Finger Lakes National Forest, just ten miles away.

6. Tall Timber Campground


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The second-highest point in Chemung County is your home for the night at the Tall Timber Campground. Perfect for your out-on-a-whim adventure, this campsite has two-dozen creature comforts included such as cookware, lanterns, soap, tents, a toilet – and a sun shower. Prefer a little more comfort? You can rent a propane tank and portable generator to power your getaway. As you came for the great outdoors, consider leaving the electronics behind and opting for an Empire Pass that’ll grant you access to the surrounding state parks throughout your trip.

7. Bowman Lake

Natural Feature

Couple fishing from canoe in New York
© James Schwabel / Alamy Stock Photo

Those in the know will wholesomely agree with Bowman Lake’s title as a camper’s paradise. Just a leaf short of 1,000 acres, shady campsites and sandy lakefronts offer dozens of spaces to pitch a tent or settle inside a rustic cabin. This state park has everything you’d expect – hiking, fishing, snowmobiling – but it’s the scenic park roads that offer just as spectacular of a sight on two or four wheels. Your birdwatching buddies may also consider this an avian nirvana with more than a hundred species of birds flocking to the skies.

8. Camp Cinnamon


Hut with American flag in a field
© Tentrr

Wake up to new views every night you spend at Camp Cinnamon. Do you want to grab some shuteye on the hills overlooking the lake or scoot up to the shore for a snooze? If the rain tries to scare you away, a small cabin in the march will keep you warm and dry. Cinnamon Lake has a dock and it just so happens that your host has kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats available for rent. Dry off along the trails, snacking on wild apples and blueberries, being sure not to feed the beavers or other wildlife who may cross your path, though.

9. Buttermilk Falls State Park


Buttermilk Falls beside stone steps in a forest
© Pat & Chuck Blackley / Alamy Stock Photo

Despite its name, you’ll find no milky streams at Buttermilk Falls State Park; just crystal clear pools fed by the Buttermilk Creek. The park is divided into two areas: an upper portion where you can hike through woodlands or float in a small lake, and the lower portion, where the campground and playing fields join a wetland trail that leads to Larch Meadows. Pets are welcome, as well as anglers and hunters. Spend the day swimming and picnicking with your family or grab your walking buddy and venture out along the trails to chase the waterfalls.

10. Meadow Retreat at Little Leaf Farm


Tent on decking in a cleaning with chairs
© Tentrr

The Meadow Retreat lets you witness the growth of the Little Leaf Farm in real-time. This growing farm meadery has orchards and an apiary springing from the ground. After touring the farm, cozy into your campsite which includes a queen mattress, single burner stove, firewood, and other essentials for an effortless stay. Want to get to know farm life a little more intimately? You can opt to do a beekeeping experience led by the farm’s owner. You can also hire a guide to take you around Lick Brook, Thayer Preserve, or some of the other local state parks.

11. Jones Beach State Park


Bare Tree On Beach Against Sky During Sunset
© EyeEm / Alamy Stock Photo

Escape from the city without venturing too far from the Big Apple at Jones Beach State Park. This cool slice of Long Island sand is where many New Yorkers come to play in the summer. Fishing, swimming, surfing and crabbing are among the many ways you can fill your day on the water. Longing for some creature comforts? Simply stroll down to the boardwalk or catch one of the many annual events happening on the central part of the beach – including the Bethpage Air Show. With dozens of state parks only miles away, you can find a quiet place to camp and hit Jones Beach on a whim.

12. Osa Trail


Tent on decking in a forest with chairs and a fire pit
© Tentrr

Give your brain a boost and renew your spirit with a rejuvenating stay at the Osa Trail campsite. Planted along the border of the Sundown Wild Forest, this campsite has tents, a bed, a firepit, and all of the other essentials, including a camp toilet. All you need to bring are the s’mores for stargazing and a chisel if you’d like to take home a fossil from the shale outcrop nearby. Minnewaska State Park Preserve is a short drive away – for closer fun, rent a canoe from your hosts and they’ll point you to a great launch point.

13. Taconic State Park


People hike to see a waterfall amid forest and cliffs
© Cavan Images / Alamy Stock Photo

This sixteen-mile slice of the Taconic Mountain Range gives hikers the opportunity to carve a path along the state lines of New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Rudd Pond and Copake Falls are the two areas you’ll likely scope out first, running through their extensive trail network which has hikes suited to every level of fitness. Taconic State Park takes the hassle out of camping, offering dozens of sites for pitching a tent, cozying into a cabin, and everything in between. With the spectacular views at the Bash Bish Falls and splashing fun at Ore Pit Pond, you’ll be too focused on where you’re headed to get picky about where you’ll stay.

14. Taconic State Park: High Valley Rd Site C


Taconic State Park tent with chairs and dining area set for a meal
© Tentrr

Turn-key camping options with endless mountain views are all yours at this campsite in Taconic State Park. Two tents, a sun shower, fire pit, chairs, grill and a queen bed with memory foam mattress are waiting for you; all you need to bring is food, bedding and firewood. You can leave your worries behind as a fire extinguisher, water carrier, trash can, and toilets are also available on-site. If you need last-minute supplies, you’re only a few minutes from Copake Falls. Lace up your boots or pump up your bike tires and spend hours along the Harlem Valley Rail Trail nearby.

15. Glimmerglass State Park


Misty Otsego Lake in New York with a small boat and forested hills
© Philip Scalia / Alamy Stock Photo

Tranquil forest trails treat you to wildlife sightings and picturesque views of Hyde Bay at Glimmerglass State Park. These serene campsites around Otsego Lake will make you feel worlds away from civilization – despite only being a few miles from Cooperstown. Though it’s unlikely to see a big cat, you’ll cross paths with plenty of other native animals on the Sleepy Lion Hiking Trail. For a little more of a hiking challenge, venture down to the southern end of the lake to Fairy Springs Park and be sure to watch your footing as you make your way through Natty Bumppo’s Cave Hike.

16. Lake View Retreat


A large canvas hut on a field at sunrise overlooking misty forests
© Tentrr

Lake View Retreat is a grand slam campsite within a few miles of Cooperstown. Overlooking Otsego Lake, this 90-acre property is an ideal weekend getaway during any season. Tents, a camp toilet, sun shower, Adirondack chairs, and more are included in your stay. Why not start every morning off cooking up fresh, free-range eggs over the open fire? Your camp keepers will be happy to sell you a dozen and provide a grill, tongs, and picnic table for you to enjoy every meal, surrounded by New York’s natural beauty.

17. Evangola State Park


Waves crashing on Lake Erie beach at sunrise.
© G. J. Hildebrandt / Alamy Stock Photo

Though swimming in Lake Erie is a huge draw of Evangola State Park, see the lake from above with a hike along the scenic cliffs. Year-round adventure awaits with hiking, hunting, fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and skiing. You’re welcome to pack your competitive spirit for a game of disc golf, basketball, baseball, or tennis. Prefer to sit on the sidelines? This 733-acre park has more than enough room for you to find a comfy place to people-watch or a quiet place alongside the lake to catch up on your reading.

18. Camping in the Pines


Tent on decking in forest with chairs in front
© Tentrr

Escape from your daily routine and settle into the quiet life at the Camping in the Pines campsite. Seven acres are yours to explore from this signature site, which already includes a canvas tent, a dome tent, a queen bed, sun shower, bathroom, fire pit and nearly every other amenity you need to relax. You can easily stroll off of this secluded property and venture into Evangola State Park or explore the rest of Lake Erie. Prefer to roll through New York in your RV? You’re welcome to park overnight at this Farnam campsite.

19. Cayuga Lake State Park


Adirondack chairs for relaxing along the shoreline of Cayuga Lake, Aurora, New York, USA
© Amy Cicconi / Alamy Stock Photo

If a weekend spent lakeside camping is your idea of paradise, Cayuga Lake State Park caters to your desires. This flat stretch of lakeshore, on the northwestern banks of the Cayuga Lake, is ideal for camping, swimming, fishing and boating. As the center lake of the five Finger Lakes, Cayuga Lake State Park is only a quick drive from hiking in Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, picturesque golfing by Owasco Lake and the charming Seneca Lake town of Geneva.

20. Sanctuary in the Woods


Teepee in forest with fire pit
© Tentrr

The Sanctuary in the Woods makes the most of its ten-acre campground. This hilly, forested area has a small campsite that includes a double-bed platform, teepee, benches, Adirondack chairs, a fire pit, grill, swing, seesaw, and even a homemade checkerboard to help you pass the time. Not that you’ll ever get bored; the camp keepers have created a multitude of trails to explore when you’re not making tracks through the other great parks surrounding Ithaca.

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