Forest camping in Chautauqua Lake

A western New York lake getaway known for fishing, water play, and year-round recreation.

97% (1086 reviews)
97% (1086 reviews)

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Forest camping in Chautauqua Lake guide


Set in western New York and surrounded by several state forests, Chautauqua Lake stretches for 17 miles. A popular lake getaway in the summer, visitors flock here to go swimming, fishing, paddling, and boating. Several lakeside parks and charming towns can be found around the lake, including “home of comedy” Jamestown, Chautauqua, Mayville, and Bemus Point. Also nearby is Lake Erie, one of the great lakes. In winter, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are popular, along with downhill skiing in nearby ski resorts.

Where to go

South Shore

Located near the southeast end of the lake, Jamestown is home to a lively performing arts scene, along with the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, the National Comedy Center, and Audubon Nature Center. You can camp along the lakeshore and find options for tents and large RVs with full hookups and cabins, plus plenty of amenities.

West Shore

The town of Chautauqua is the home of the Chautauqua Institution, a renowned cultural and performing arts venue. Tucked away in a secluded wooded area just south of the town is Camp Prendergast, which offers tent sites and RV sites with full hookups and amenities like a swimming pool. 

East Shore

At the town of Bemus Point, Long Point State Park juts out into the lake and offers a modern boat launch, fishing dock, pavilions, and several trails. Just north, one of the oldest amusement parks in the country can be found at Midway State Park. The only bridge across the lake can also be found here, connecting to Stow on the western shore of the lake. 

North Shore

The county seat of Mayville can be found at the northern end of the lake. Continue north and you’ll hit Lake Erie, with plenty of options for enjoying the water, and more than 20 wineries. Lake Erie State Park offers easy lake access and a campground on a bluff overlooking the lake, and more than 100 tent and RV campsites and cabins. Further south along the shore, Evangola State Park is another option, while several private campgrounds sit right along the shores of Lake Erie. 

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