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Letchworth State Park
Description: Renowned as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park is one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. The Genesee River roars through a deep gorge and over three major waterfalls between 550-foot cliffs surrounded by lush forests. With open water drawing thousands of waterfowl, forests sheltering high concentrations of migratory birds, and several great blue heron rookeries, Letchworth has earned designations as a state Bird Conservation Area and an Audubon Important Bird Area.

Not only is Letchworth enjoyed for the diverse array of bird species found there, but it is critically important for a number of individual species, particularly those designated “of special concern” or “at risk.” Birds associated with forest, river and shrub habitats find safety and sustenance in this natural fortress. The gorge is particularly important for raptors that glide on cliff-face updrafts in search of food. Upland forests of hardwoods and conifers make up a large portion of the park and are the preferred nesting areas of more than 60 species of migratory songbirds, many of them warblers. Shrub and grasslands are home to several species of ground-nesting birds. Waterfowl and wading birds are found in wooded swamps and river habitats. Many species of mammals can also be found in the park’s diverse habitats.

Wildlife to Watch: The bald eagle, our majestic national symbol, uses the park year-round, as do many turkey vultures, which may not be as revered but are equally impressive in size. Winter roosts of up to 20 vultures have been seen, and as many as 200 of these large raptors have been observed soaring in the gorge on a single summer day. Red-tailed hawks are another commonly seen raptor. Watch for wild turkeys in fields or feeding in the forest on beechnuts and acorns.

Several great blue heron rookeries have been observed in the park’s wetlands, and more than 100 nests have been counted. Open water below the Mt. Morris dam may attract in excess of 2,000 Canada geese in winter. Common mergansers and wood ducks are the most abundant of several species of ducks visible on the river.

Forest, grassland and shrub species sighted here include black-billed cuckoo, eastern wood-pewee, rose-breasted grosbeak, Baltimore oriole, killdeer, bobolink, eastern meadowlark, brown thrasher, eastern towhee and field sparrow.

Bird species listed as “at risk” or “of special concern” that can be seen here include sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper’s hawk, northern goshawk, redshouldered hawk, red-headed woodpecker, golden-winged warbler, cerulean warbler, vesper sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, American woodcock, willow flycatcher, wood thrush, blue-winged warbler, Canada warbler, yellowbreasted chat and rusty blackbird. Letchworth’s grasslands are important as historical nesting sites for northern harriers, upland sandpipers and Henslow’s sparrows.

Mammals that may be encountered include white-tailed deer, red foxes, coyotes, cottontail rabbits and woodchucks in woods, shrub and grasslands, and beavers in wetlands.

Special Tips: The William Pryor Letchworth Museum provides an excellent introduction to the park. Hikers can choose among 66 miles of hiking trails. Trails are also available for horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Letchworth offers nature, history and performing arts programs, guided walks, tours, a summer lecture series, whitewater rafting and kayaking.

Overlooks provide spectacular views of the three waterfalls. Foot paths and auto roads parallel the river and pass the historic Glen Iris Inn and Seneca Indian sites.

This site has many accessible features, including trails and cabins.

Other Activities: The park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round. There is a vehicle-use fee to enter the park. Dates, times and fees for amenities vary; contact the park for details. Hunting and fishing are allowed in season.

585-493-3600, 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427

, www.nysparks.com

Ownership: NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation 
Size: 14,500 
Closest Town: Castile

RestroomsTent CampingFishingCross Country SkiingHikingHuntingHorse TrailsHandicap AccessibleFeeSmall BoatsDrinking WaterBicycling

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Yellow-breasted Chat - Photo by Gerry Lemmo
Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
Take the NYS Thruway/I-90 to exit 46 to merge onto I-390 S toward Corning. Take exit 7 for NY-408 toward NY-63, Mt. Morris/ Letchworth State Park. Turn left onto NY-408 S/Mt. Morris Geneseo Rd. Turn left onto Main St. Take the first right onto NY-408 S/ Chapel St. After about 11 miles, turn right onto NY-436 W/Mill St./ Portage St. After almost 6 miles, turn right to stay on NY-436 W. Letchworth State Park is on the right.

Map Link

Letchworth State Park : Wildlife Viewing Area