Dying to see the Grand Canyon but don't want to deal with throngs of tourists? There is an option.
The sheer cliffs of the 17-mile gorge in New York's Letchworth State Park
soar nearly 600 feet in some spots, creating what many geologists have called the Grand Canyon of the East.
The long and narrow park encompasses awesome rock formations and a lush forest that includes many species of eastern North American trees. But the big kahuna here is the Genesee River, which spills over three waterfalls -- one of them 107 feet high -- creating a magical, idyllic atmosphere.
Hikers can enjoy more than 70 miles of hiking trails. Take in the view from the overlook at the Mount Morris Dam,
and make sure to cross the stone footbridge near Lower Falls
for a bracing walk in the mist of a waterfall. There are trails for horseback riding and biking, and fascinating rock formations line every trail, allowing scientific types to commune with geological history. You can also swim or fish, go hot-air ballooning, whitewater rafting, or canoeing (by permit).
The Victorian-era Glen Iris Inn
overlooks the Genesee River. Interiors are suitably cozy, and though standard rooms are on the small side, suites are spacious. The Cherry Suite has a whirlpool tub, a private porch with great views of the gorge. The restaurant serves up dishes like baked salmon fillet in port sauce and roast duckling with cherry-brandy glaze. The inn has a Harvest Package
, running August 20 through September 13, that includes accommodations, dinner and breakfast for two, taxes and gratuities for $200 per couple per night ($265 for suites).
Letchworth offers tent and trailer sites, campsites, and winterized cabins. Campgrounds are open from mid-May to mid-October and cabins can be rented year round. To reserve a site or cabin, visit: www.nysparks.state.ny.us.
Letchworth State Park is 35 miles southwest of Rochester, off I-390 Exit 7. For more information, call 585-493-3600.
Photo credit: ©Istockphoto/ Scott Slattery; Middle Falls, Genesee River, Letchworth State Park.