May is the starter flag, the big gong, the word “go” for the biggest attractions and activities in Letchworth State Park.
Balloon flights, the Glen Iris Inn, tours of the Mount Morris Dam, activity stations on the Autism Nature Trail, the William Pryor Letchworth Museum, playgrounds, daily hours at the Humphrey Nature Center, and almost daily guided outings began May 1, 2023.
“This is when you will see the full spectrum of things to do in and around the park all summer long, and through the end of fall foliage season in October,” said Conrad Baker, an environmental educator for the Genesee Region of New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
“What makes this place so special is not only the 100 waterfalls, not only the nationally significant history, not only the globally rare balloon flights and rafting through the Grand Canyon of the East…it’s the accessibility of all these adventures. You don’t have to hike all day to get to big canyon views like the Hogsback or our 106-foot waterfall, you can drive right up to them. That said, you can chain these overlooks together and make it quite a rustic day-hike or explore forest trails and almost have the place to yourself.”
Some attractions were in full swing before May 1.
Whitewater rafting tours with Adventure Calls Outfitters (adventure-calls.com) run from the first week of April through Oct. 31.
Group camping (available only for nonprofit groups like scouting troops) is available from April 22 to Oct. 8, 2023.
Year-round accommodations in historic houses onsite are always available at GlenIrisInn.com.
Some attractions will have to wait just a bit longer.
This year, due to an improvement project in the Lower Falls area, vehicle entry to Lower Falls Road will be limited to weekends only until later in the season. Hikers can still enter the area on foot to see Lower Falls from the winter overlook on Trail 1 (Gorge Trail) but not Trail 6 or Trail 6A to the stone footbridge. The park will announce when the trail to the footbridge opens for the season.
All of the park’s eight camping loops open May 19. All availability, pricing, and booking is done on ReserveAmerica.com or by calling 1-800-456-2267. Camping in Letchworth State Park is only allowed in the campground.
The park’s five distinct and unique cabin areas open at different dates throughout peak season. Check availability and make reservations at ReserveAmerica.com or by calling 1-800-456-2267.
Snack stands and gift shops will open later in May, Saturdays and Sundays only until later in the season.
Lower Falls Restaurant will open for the season in mid-May.
As always, Trail and Trail 6A, which lead to the stone footbridge near Lower Falls, will remain closed until scaling teams can inspect and clean gorge walls in that area, typically later in the spring.
The swimming pool will open from late June until Labor Day, Sept. 4, 2023. There is no swimming allowed in the Genesee River in Letchworth State Park.
As usual, the Mount Morris, Perry, Castile, and Portageville park entrances will charge a vehicle use fee per vehicle from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting May 12, 2023, which allows vehicle use in any New York State park for the day. The Parade Grounds entrance is always free.
On non-holiday weekdays, vehicle use fees are waived for vehicles with at least one passenger who is a NYS resident over age 62 (made possible by the NYS Golden Parks Program). Schools are encouraged to apply for Connect Kids to Parks (parks.ny.gov/environment/connect-kids/grant-program) and Ladders to the Outdoors (parks.ny.gov/environment/ladders-to-the-outdoors) programs to cover vehicle use fees and program fees.
Check Letchworth State Park’s official Facebook and Instagram pages, both “@letchworthstatepark,” for year-round scenery, educational videos, alerts, and updates. General information, many frequently asked questions, maps, and a schedule of festivals and guided outings are on the park’s official website, parks.ny.gov/parks/letchworth. Year-round information, maps, alerts, and updates are on the free NYS Parks Explorer app under “Letchworth State Park.”
Please call the Visitor Center at (585) 493-3600 with any specific questions.
“You really feel the season momentum in May,” said Baker. “This is when some of the most popular experiences start to pick up steam building up to the summer. There’s a reason Letchworth State Park routinely ranks as one of the most popular state parks in America, there’s so much to see and do in and around this beautiful, peaceful place.”