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Letchworth State Park
Castile New York, 14427
Park Office: 716-493-3600
Letchworth State Park comprises 14,350 acres of scenic magnificence along 17 miles of the Genesee River, 35 miles South of Rochester, New York and 55 miles East of Buffalo, New York. The precipitous walls of the Genesee Gorge, the river winding below, the plunge and spray of dramatic waterfalls and the surrounding lush forest all contribute to make the park one of the most notable examples of waterfall and gorge scenery in the Eastern United States. Within the park, the Genesee River roars over three major waterfalls, one of which is 107 feet in height. Each year the river cuts deeper into the dramatic cliffs, some of which approach 600 feet in height. A wide variety of flora and fauna is found throughout the parklands. Wildflowers hide in the debris and shadows of the wood's floor as well as the open meadow areas. The small woodland mammals and birds are everywhere and deer are seen regularly. The elusive Eastern Black Bear is also spotted on occasion.
Letchworth State Park offers numerous leisure time pursuits. There are cabins, campsites, 2 swimming pools, fishing areas, picnic areas, winter sports facilities, a museum and more than 70 miles of well maintained and natural hiking and 20 miles of biking trails leading to spectacular scenic views within the park. Letchworth boasts two restaurants, fine dining at Glen Iris Inn and casual dining at the Lower Falls Restaurant. Snack bars are conveniently located throughout the park.
The park has 270 electric campsites at the Highbanks Tent and Trailer Area. Amenities include bathroom/shower buildings, camp store, laundry and recreation hall. The camping area is open mid-May to mid-October. A primitive group camping area is located in the lower falls area.
Letchworth State Park has 82 cabins ranging from simple rustic one-room to wood paneled three room units. All cabins are supplied with a stove, refrigerator, table and chairs. Cabins in area "C" are available year round.
Cabins and campsites are available by calling the New York State Camping and Cabin Reservation System at 1-800-456-2267. All cabins and campsites at Letchworth can be reserved however, any unreserved sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Letchworth offers nature, history and performing arts programs, guided walks and tours, bike tours, mountain biking, summer lecture series, camper recreation programs, whitewater rafting, canoeing and kayaking, hot air ballooning, and horseback rides. Special events include Stone Tool Technology Show. The Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show held each year on Columbus Day draws thousands of visitors. Winter activities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides and snow tubing.
Millions of years of geological history are evident in the rock formations throughout the park. There are shales and sandstones formed during the Devonian period under shallow interior seas. Tens of millions of years of erosion wore away great depths of the rocks, forming river valleys. These valleys were then changed by glaciers which buried some areas with large masses of sand and gravel. Three winding deep canyons separated by broader wooded valleys within Letchworth State Park are a product of the Genesee River detouring around blocked sections of earlier riverbeds.
Seneca Council House
On the ridge behind the Glen Iris Inn stands a restored Seneca Indian Council House and the grave of Mary Jamison. Mary Jamison, the White Woman of the Genesee, was captured by Indians from her Pennsylvania home at the young age of fifteen and brought to the Genesee Valley. Here, she married, raised her children and lived peacefully to the age of 90 amongst her adopted Seneca Nation people. Her cabin on the Grandeau Flats, just North of the falls was her home for many years. The log structures located here were preserved by Mr. Letchworth as part of his ongoing endeavor to preserve the Seneca culture.
Overlooking the Middle Falls of the Genesee River, the Glen Iris Inn is surrounded by the natural beauty of Letchworth State Park, the "GRAND CANYON OF THE EAST". The real story of the Glen Iris Inn began in 1859 when Mr. William Pryor Letchworth first purchased the building and surrounding 1000 acres. Over the next fifty years, Mr. Letchworth would develop the Glen Iris Inn and the grounds into a picturesque setting that is now the centerpiece of Letchworth state Park. In 1907, Mr. Letchworth deeded his estate to the State of New York. As part of an ongoing program, the interior of the Inn has been restored, and the exterior repainted in the colors of the 1890's. The landscape is currently under study so the grounds can be restored to their original beauty. Today William Pryor Letchworth's home is open to the public seven days a week for fine dining and overnight accommodations from Good Friday to the end of October. In addition to enjoying the spectacular view of the middle falls, guests will appreciate the Inn's library and Victorian Gift Shop. For more information on the Glen Iris Inn call 716-493-2622.
Letchworth State Park History
William Pryor Letchworth Museum
Opened in 1913, the museum has displays of Native American artifacts, collected by Mr. Letchworth, including items such as stone tools and pottery. Early photographs of the park along with displays, tell of the evolution of Mr. Letchworth's estate into the 14,350 acre state park that we enjoy today. Housed at the museum are the contents of Mr. Letchworth's personal library which reflect not only his interests, but also social concerns.
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