Wildlife Viewing Areas
 Search the U.S.
Find an AnimalFind a Viewing AreaPlan a TripAboutContact


Purchase the New York wildlife viewing guide

NY DEC Watchable Wildlife

Outdoor Discovery

John Boyd Thacher & Thompson's Lake State Parks
Description: Situated on the Helderberg Escarpment a short drive from Albany, these two nearly contiguous parks have sharply contrasting landscapes. From sheer, rocky cliffs at Thacher to Thompson’s tranquil woods, streams and lake, these parks form a New York State Bird Conservation Area. More than 170 species have been identified, with more than 100 confirmed or probable breeders.

Fossil-rich limestone tells a fascinating story of life in a shallow sea about 400 million years ago. Now, the sheer rock walls of the escarpment serve as a prime hawk-migration viewing area. From clifftop overlooks, you’ll have the unique experience of looking both up and down at raptors gliding on updrafts from the valley floor far below.

Wildlife to Watch: The common raven, a black bird that is larger than a crow with a thicker beak, nests among Thacher’s cliffs. Large raptors include turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks and northern goshawks. Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks are smaller raptor species you may see.

Eastern chipmunks make their burrows in the rocky cliffs. Many species of warblers, woodpeckers and flycatchers breed in the forest canopy. Bobolinks, American kestrels, eastern bluebirds and American goldfinches are found in open meadows and grasslands. Canada geese swim along the lakeshore.

The Jefferson salamander is a species of special concern, and, each spring, concerned volunteers help hundreds of these amphibians cross the road, to reach their breeding ponds.

Special Tips: Thompson’s Lake: hiking, camping, canoeing/kayaking, nature center, boat launch, swimming, beach, fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, restrooms and parking

Thacher Park: hiking, biking, hunting, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, restrooms and parking

These sites have some accessible features: Thompson’s Lake—camping; Thacher Park—picnic area, scenic overlooks, nature center.

Thompson’s Lake: 518-872-1674, 68 Thompsons Lake Road, East Berne, NY 12059, www.nysparks.com

Thacher Park: 518-872-1237, 1 Hailes Cave Road, Voorheesville, NY 12186, www.nysparks.com

Thacher Nature Center: 518-872-0800, 87 Nature Center Way, Voorheesville, NY 12186, www.nysparks.com

Ownership: NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation 
Size: N/A 
Closest Town: New Scotland, Berne and Knox

RestroomsParkingTent CampingCross Country SkiingHikingPicnic tablesVisitor CenterHandicap AccessibleFeeSwimmingBicycling

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

John Boyd Thacher State Park
Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
From Albany, take NY 85 west for about 13 miles. Make a slight right onto NY 157 west/Thacher Park Rd. Thacher Park will be on your right. To reach Thompson’s Lake, continue past Thacher Park. Turn right onto NY 157 west/Thompson’s Lake Rd. and make a slight right into Thompson’s Lake State Park after 1 mile. To reach Thacher Nature Center, continue past Thacher Park. Turn right onto Ketcham Rd., drive 1 mile, and turn left onto Nature Center Way.

Map Link

John Boyd Thacher & Thompson's Lake State Parks : Wildlife Viewing Area