NEW YORK (WETM) – The weather is warming and school will be out soon as school is out, so families across the area will pack up and go camping. And why not take advantage of New York’s 3.7 million acres of public forests?
Being a rural part of the state, the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes have countless options to relax and enjoy the outdoors. In just an hour’s drive, you can escape the city and suburbs and unwind in the forest. Many veteran campers have their regular spots, but there’s always a chance to try a new place, especially for first-time campers who may want a weekend away.
Where are you allowed to camp in New York?
New York State is chock full of public land, ranging from State Forests, State Parks, Forest Preserves, and Wildlife Management Areas. The DEC says that any camping is prohibited in Wildlife Management Areas and Unique Areas in State Forests.
Other than that, however, Parks, Preserves, and Forests are open for campers.
New York has 180 state parks, and dozens of those have camping options available, run by the NYS Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. These may include campgrounds with utility hookups, cabins, and cottages. The going rates for these are, for most, between $15-$30 for campsites each night, and around $300 per week for cabins and cottages. Reservations fees are also usually under $10.
New York State Forests are also open (and free!) for camping on land run by the DEC, not NYS Parks. The DEC says that “primitive camping” — pitching a tent or a lean-to in the woods — is an option in State Forests and the Adirondacks and Catskills Preserves. Campsites in the open woods will have yellow markers that say “Camp Here”.
This region is also home to the Finger Lakes National Forest, a 16,000-acre forest in between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. This massive piece of federal property also has a number of camping options.
It’s not quite as simple as just putting up a tent, though. There are specific rules about how many people are allowed in one camp, how far it can be from a road or a body of water, fire safety, and trash disposal.
How do I find a camping spot?
The DEC has a locator map available to find campsites and lean-tos across the state on various public lands.
Below is a map that includes dozens state park and state forest locations in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, including links to their official state websites:
This map includes campsites and state parks across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes, not across the entire state. NYS Parks has a search tool for state parks, and the DEC has resources and a map available to find all primitive campsites and lean-tos across the state.