An Incredible Day Navigating Watkins Glen State Park, NY


It all started last July when I spotted a picture someone shared of the falls at Watkins Glen State Park in New York State. That must be photoshopped I thought. The image looked like it was taken from a movie scene – falls, plunging caverns,  carved rocks with water flowing through them and moss growing everywhere. But the more images I searched the more I became intrigued with this location.

Watkins Glen State Park, NY 8

We hadn’t settled on a destination for our end of the Summer road trip so I showed my husband the images and we decided this would be the perfect spot for our vacation.

I will fully admit that when we arrived I just expected there to be a couple bridges and a few falls, but Watkins Glen State Park was so much more.

We chose to visit on a Tuesday morning, but the park was pretty busy. When you arrive there is an $8 fee, but the parking lot is quite close to the entrance.

From the moment your arrive, this park’s beauty is evident. The parking lot sits along a chiseled wall and the sentry bridge is visible as soon as you approach the entrance tunnel.

Watkins State Park Sentry Bridge entrance

Once up the staircase your first views of the park are spectacular.

View of Watkin Glen State Park from Sentry Bridge

And as incredible as my first look was, it just got better and better as we made our way along the gorge trail.    Watkins Glen State Park boasts 19 waterfalls, 200ft cliffs and views that are spellbinding.

Watkins Glen State Park, NY

There are also so many charming aspects of the park.  The waterfalls descend like steps from the top of the park, each one flowing into the next.

When you enter from the Sentry bridge you are at the bottom moving up the gorge.

The first ones you will see are the cascade at the entrance, followed by Minnehaha, which flow into a heart shaped pool.

Watkins Glen State Park Minnehaha falls

If you are planning a vacation to the Finger Lakes I highly recommend adding Watkins Glen to the top of your list.  It will not disappoint – I promise.


  • The walk is family friendly, but not stroller friendly or good for little ones. The pathways can be narrow and much of the walking area is uneven, muddy and some of the rocks underfoot are loose.  There are also some areas where the edge of the path is very close to the escarpment.

Watkins Glen State Park, NY 9

  • Wear good footwear like sneakers or running shoes because the park has 800 stone stairs that guide you through the trail.
  • Bring sunscreen AND Bug spray. Some of the trail is sunny and there are many areas that a quite buggy.
  • Bring beverages, or snacks with you.  There is also a small snack bar and ice cream shop in the parking lot if you need more.
  • Plan to visit in the afternoon. We arrived in the morning and the park was packed. As we were leaving, however, the parking lot was emptying out.
  • Give yourself 3 hours to see the park properly.
  • Make sure your camera has a lots of memory because you will take lots of pictures!