Take the Plunge: New York’s Watkins Glen State Park

Photographer: Emily Fagan
Over the Rainbow: In glorious Wizard of Oz Technicolor, Rainbow Falls tumbles past mossy outcrops into an emerald-green pool. The waterfall is one of 19 along the 11⁄2-mile Gorge Trail, centerpiece of Watkins Glen State Park. To beat the crowds, arrive early.


Waterfall magic at New York’s Watkins Glen State Park

We love sunny days in our travels, but on our RV trip to Watkins Glen State Park, crown jewel of western New York’s Finger Lakes, we found ourselves blessed with a series of downpours. Brooding skies threatened as we began our hike on the magical Gorge Trail, and within moments we were dashing from one rocky overhang to the next to avoid getting drenched.

For eons, the powerful forces of Glen Creek have cut through the canyon’s soft rock like a knife, leaving behind endless turquoise pools and shimmering cascades.

In classic New York form, we shared the experience with hundreds of other people on the trail but soon forgot the crowds as we stood spellbound by the crystalline water.

Our spirits soared when the path’s curving contours took us from dreamy pools to eye-popping waterfalls. The water flowed with abandon, swelling, surging and spilling over each rocky plateau in the ravine.

Cavern Cascade, a tall, thin chute, pours right over the trail. Hikers waited their turn to run underneath, and laughter filled the gorge as we each scurried across.

At Rainbow Falls, water seeped out of the mossy rocks and fell in a thin veil of diamonds into the aquamarine pool below.

Watkins Glen State Park makes an ideal RV excursion. RVers can set up camp inside the park within walking distance of the gorge or near the shores of Seneca Lake and Glen Harbor Marina at W.W. Clute Memorial Park and Campground.



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