Wine, waterfalls, and natural wonders await campers in the Finger Lakes region.
With 11 lakes, 25 state parks, three wine trails, and more than a dozen golf courses, it's easy to see why the Finger Lakes is one of the most popular vacation spots in New York state. Camping options abound around the lakeside, whether you prefer a family campground with full hookups, a rustic cabin in the woods, or a cozy glampsite. Summer is peak season, and the best time for swimming, wine tasting, and water sports, while leaf-peepers flock to the Finger Lakes state parks in fall. Winter camping can be fun, too, with skiing, ice skating, and sledding all on the activity menu.
The largest of the Finger Lakes has forest hiking trails, patchwork vineyards, and farm-to-table dining experiences right at its fingertips. Once you've gone wine hopping along the largest of the Finger Lakes wine trails, marveled at the waterfalls in Watkins Glen State Park, and enjoyed boating around Sampson State Park, check into a state park campground or book an RV park around Seneca Falls or Geneva.
An 87-mile scenic byway loops around Cayuga Lake, affording panoramic views over the lake and the surrounding wine country. At the southern tip, Ithaca is the gateway to Buttermilk Falls State Park and Taughannock Falls State Park, while the nearby Finger Lakes National Forest is the ideal spot for a backcountry camping experience—dispersed camping is permitted throughout.
West of Seneca Lake, there are plenty of ways to get on the water at Keuka, Canandaigua, and Honeoye lakes. Camp amid the vineyards at Keuka Lake State Park, check into an RV resort at Naples or Hammondsport, or escape the crowds at the Honeoye Lake boat launch. Further west, Letchworth State Park is home to the "Grand Canyon of the East," where its waterfalls and forests are most magnificent during fall foliage season.
Syracuse is the entry point to Finger Lakes' eastern corner, where you'll find Owasco, Skaneateles, and Otisco lakes. Swimming and water skiing are popular pastimes at Owasco Lake, and there's a great campground and swimming pool at Fillmore Glen State Park. If you’re seeking peace and quiet, neighboring Skaneateles is a tranquil spot for boating.
Yes, you can camp along the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) in designated areas and some public lands. The FLT is a 950-mile long trail system that runs through New York state, passing through state forests, wildlife management areas, and private lands. Camping is allowed in designated campgrounds, lean-tos, and some primitive camping areas. It is important to note that camping on private land is not allowed without the landowner's permission.
Some popular campgrounds along the FLT include Sugar Hill State Forest, Danby State Forest, and Buttermilk Falls State Park. Dispersed camping is allowed in many state forests along the FLT, but it is essential to follow Leave No Trace principles and camp at least 150 feet away from any trail, road, or water source. For more information on camping options and restrictions along the Finger Lakes Trail, visit the Finger Lakes Trail Conference website.