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NY DEC Watchable Wildlife

Outdoor Discovery

Wellesley Island State Park
Description: Located in the St. Lawrence River near Lake Ontario’s outflow, Wellesley Island offers ideal habitat for large numbers of wildlife, particularly shorebirds. Steep cliffs and exposed rocky knobs give way to more-gentle landscapes with wetlands, meadows and forests. Located within Wellesley’s 2,600+ acres is the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center—a museum, visitors center and grounds covering 600 acres. It is the largest such facility in the state park system. The museum and visitors center offer displays on the unique features of the St. Lawrence River environment, as well as educational and recreational programs on the center’s popular trails.

Wildlife to Watch: Wildlife viewing opportunities abound along Wellesley’s shoreline and in its marshes, fields and forests. Watching osprey parents raise their young in huge, heavy nests of sticks in treetops is a highlight for visitors to Eel Bay during spring and early summer. In winter, bald eagles are a common sight along the shore of the bay. Gulls—including great black-backed, herring and ring billed—and common terns are numerous along the island’s shore. Caspian terns are less frequently seen. Also look for sanderlings, semipalmated and spotted sandpipers at the water’s edge. Watch in the marsh for green, pickerel and bullfrogs and painted and snapping turtles. Most impressive are the great blue herons and green herons. At sunrise and sunset, white-tailed deer can be seen at the edge of the forest and in clearings. Woodchucks are visible throughout the day, foraging around grassy roadsides. Ruffed grouse and wild turkeys are among the largest forest birds found here. Their distinctive sounds—the wing drumming of grouse and gobbling of turkeys—may alert you to their presence before you spot them. Several hawk species take advantage of the island’s abundant rodent population.

Special Tips: 

Ownership: NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation 
Size: 2,643 Acres 
Closest Town: Alexandria Bay

RestroomsParkingTent CampingFishingCross Country SkiingHikingPicnic tablesBoat LaunchVisitor CenterHuntingHandicap AccessibleFeeLarge BoatsTrailer CampingDrinking WaterSwimmingBicycling

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Wellesley Island State Park - Photo by John Rozell
Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
From Watertown, take I-81 north for 24.6 miles. Take the exit toward Co. Rd. 191. Turn right onto Co. Rd. 191. Turn right onto Co. Rd. 100/Co. Rd. 100A/Thousand Island Park Rd./Westminster Park Rd. Take the first right onto Cross Island Rd. The park is on the left.

Map Link

Wellesley Island State Park : Wildlife Viewing Area