Best Campsites in New York

by Amy Myers
Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

There are two different worlds in New York – one that thrives on live entertainment and busy streets and one that exists among scenic roads and secluded campsites. The state is home to an abundance backcountry opportunities, spanning from the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes to oceanfront beaches. Here, outdoor enthusiasts can find some of the best lakefront views with prime fishing, paddling, hiking and stargazing opportunities in the Northeast. So when those city lights are a little too bright, seclusion and tranqulity is just a short drive away.

Now that school is back in session and the busy season has ended, there are plenty of campsites to choose from just in time for prime leaf-peeping opportunities… because just as beautiful as the destinations, themselves, is the drive through New York’s wilder regions. En route to your destination, you’ll pass through rolling hills of red maples, scarlet oaks, American beeches and horse chestnuts.

We wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up booking an extra day at your campsite to soak up every second of the autumntime magic.

Lake George Campsites

For the paddlers and families.

  • Location: 1053 Route 9 Queensbury, NY 12804
  • Campground Contact: 518-798-6218
  • Months open: May 1 – October 15
  • Park Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday
  • Campground Website

Lake George is revered for its prime paddling opportunities, and this campground brings visitors right up to the edge of the water with the comfort of a variety of open campsites to choose from. The lake spans 44 square miles and is shouldered by a vast wooded region that provides an extra bit of seclusion from society.

The campground also allows you to choose just how much front-country you want in your camping experience. So, you can take advantage of the family-friendly amenities like the arcade and pool, or you can keep it simple with the non-electric campsites and a good ole fire ring. Additionally, there are a ton of outside activities and attractions just a few minutes away from the campsites. From natural attractions like Prospect Mountain and Shelving Rock Falls to Six Flags Great Escape and Hurricane Harbor, you’ll always find something fun to do at Lake George Campsites.

Campground breakdown:

  • 60 standard, nonelectric campsites: $33-43 per night
  • 190 electric/water sites: $43-68 per night
  • 20 cottages: $195-288 per night

Lake George amenities: restrooms with hot showers, arcade, laundry services, dumpster, sanitation dump station, playground, volleyball court, basketball court, horseshoes pit, swimming pool, dishwashing station, camp store and office.

Reserve a Lake George campsite here.

Roscoe Campsite Park

For the Catskills campers.

  • Location: 2179 Old Rte. 17, Roscoe, NY 12776
  • Campground Contact: 607-498-5264
  • Park Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., April 1 – October 31
  • Campground Website

Much like Lake George, there’s an abundance of activities and attractions on-site at Roscoe Campsite Park. Here, you can find the themed cabins, gem mining sluice, hayrides, petting zoo, bike rentals and instant access to the Beaverkill River. Even a whole weekend spent at this destination won’t feel long enough to enjoy all it has to offer.

Whether you take a lazy tube trip down the river or opt for a campground scavenger hunt, you’ll have the backdrop of the Catskill mountains. There’s also a 4.5-mile trail located right beside the campsites. Or, for more experienced hikers, you can take a short (but very scenic) drive to one of the nearby trails in the mountains, like the Peekamoose and Table Mountains Trail in Claryville.

Campground breakdown:

  • 58 standard electric campsites: $75-85 per night
  • 9 tent sites: $75 per night
  • 18 cabins: $135-299 per night
  • 4 RV rentals: $175-275 per night
  • 2 Luxury Lodge Tents: $315-395 per night
  • 5 Catskill Conestoga Wagon Outpost covered wagons: $200-260 per night

Roscoe Campsite amenities: park general store and office, dog park, playground, basketball court, bocce court, food truck, bathhouse, ADA bathhouse, sanitation dump station, latrine, river access and beaches.

Reserve a Roscoe Campsite campsite here.

Newtown Battlefield State Park

For the history buffs.

  • Location: 2346 Co. Rt. 60, Elmira, NY 14901
  • Campground Contact: 607-732-6067
  • Park Hours: dawn to dusk, May 26 – October 8
  • Campground Website

What is now a state park was initially the site of the battle of Newtown in August 1779, otherwise known as the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign. Though we’d already won our independence, the battle was meant to be a sort of punishment against the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, which had sided with the British and even attacked frontier settlements. Nowadays, the Newtown Battlefield Reservation is recognized as a historical landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

For campers, this means that they can explore the Sullivan Monument, an overlook deck, and a variety of trails that span across the landmark area. Also on site is the gorgeous, rustic lodge, constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Additionally, in close proximity to Newtown Battlefield’s campsites are Mark Twain, Robert H. Treman and Buttermilk Falls State Parks. For golfers, you can access Soaring Eagles Golf Course and Pinnacle State Park and Golf Course.

Campground breakdown:

  • 16 standard, non-electric campsites: $15-19 per night
  • 2 30-amp sites: $22 per night
  • 5 cabins: $80.50 per night
  • 6 group shelters: $50 per night

Newtown Battlefield amenities: restrooms with showers, sanitation dump stations, picnic tables, horseshoe pit, playground and water station

Reserve a Newtown Battlefield campsite here.

Hither Hills State Park

For the surf-casters.

  • Location: 164 Old Montauk Highway, Montauk, NY 11954
  • Campground Contact: 631-668-2554
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., year-round
  • Campground Website

Situated along the Atlantic, Hither Hills State Park has some of the best surf fishing in the state. From the comfort of the park’s two-mile beach, you can cast your line any time of the year and sit by the fire until you start to see it tug. Anglers that stay at Hither Hills can catch Atlantic cod, winter flounder and mackerel in the spring or bluefish, summer flounder and Spanish mackerel in the fall. Along with the oceanfront fishing, the park is also home to a 40-acre freshwater lake, inviting fishermen of all kinds to its campsites.

When you’ve run out of bait, you can take advantage of Hither Hills’ many other seasonal activities, like cross-country skiing, biking, horseback riding and even hunting. For families, the park hosts events like movie nights, folk dancing, summer theater, magic shows and interpretive programs.

Campground breakdown:

  • 133 standard, non-electric campsites: $31 per night

Hither Hills amenities: restrooms with showers, picnic tables, playground, swimming beach, fire pits, volleyball court, camp store, sanitation dump station and basketball court

Reserve a Hither Hills campsite here.

Watkins Glen State Park

For the waterfall chasers.

  • Location: 1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
  • Campground Contact: 607-535-4511
  • Park Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., May 19 – October 8
  • Campground Website

Situated at the south end of Seneca Lake is Watkins Glen State Park. Not surprisingly, this is easily one of the most popular natural destinations in New York. With 19 waterfalls, there’s no guessing what continues to bring thousands of visitors to the park’s campsites. Really, it’s like walking through a giant zen garden as the trails take you past 200-foot cliffs, glistening stones and cascading waters. During the summer, the park offers tours that give visitors a closer look at the gorge and the natural elements that create such a serene and inviting environment.

In addition to the waterfalls, campers can also access Catherine Creek, renowned for its rainbow trout fishing in the springtime. There’s even a seasonal pool located close to the campsites for when you need a refreshing dip after a long day of exploring the trails.

Campground breakdown:

  • 97 electric campsites: $31 per night
  • 178 standard, non-electric campsites: $22-29 per night
  • 9 cabins: $58 per night

Watkins Glen amenities: fire rings, grills, picnic tables, restrooms with showers, swimming pool, playground, sanitation dump station, pavilions, water station and basketball court

Reserve a Watkins Glen campsite here.

Cayuga Lake State Park

For the Finger Lakes campers.

  • Location: 2678 Lower Lake Road, Seneca Falls, NY 13148
  • Campground Contact: 315-568-5163
  • Park Hours: dawn to dusk, year-round
  • Campground Website

Not far from Watkins Glen’s waterfalls is Seneca Lake State Park, another well-loved destination in New York, particularly during the fall. After all, nothing beats waking up to a crystal blue lake on a crisp morning, surrounded by golden and auburn treetops. Of course, there’s no wrong time to explore this campground. In fact, there are different seasonal activities for every type of weather that you may experience in the Finger Lakes.

During the summer, you can take a dip, take the boat onto the lake or try your hand at largemouth bass, bullhead, lake trout, landlocked salmon and carp fishing. Once the weather gets cooler, you can enjoy the colors of fall up close by exploring the Cayuga-Seneca Canal Trail which follows an old railroad trail that connects the two largest Finger Lakes.

Campground breakdown:

  • 34 electric campsites: $15-19 per night
  • 218 standard, non-electric sites: $26 per night
  • 14 cabins: $66.50-107 per night

Cayuga Lake amenities: restrooms with showers, horseshoe pit, picnic tables, fire rings, boat launch and docks, camp office, sanitation dump station, playground, trash and recycling services, volleyball court, swimming beach and water station

Reserve a Cayuga Lake campsite here.