Camping at Watkins Glen State Park in Upstate NY

12smAfter several months on a different continent, it’s easy to forget that there are amazingly beautiful things to see right here in “my own back yard”.  I decided to turn what would have been an otherwise boring road trip into a chance to explore a little corner of the good ol’ USA (and Canada).

For the most part, Driving from New York City to Detroit is a relatively unexciting drive.  Pennsylvania can be quite lovely, but overall there isn’t a lot to see if you take I-80.  After an approximate 10 hours, you will be very glad to have reached the end point.  Because I had to do the drive solo, I decided to use the opportunity to feed my wandering soul and make it more interesting.  Rather than the traditional route, I drove through upstate NY, and then took the bridge to Canada at Niagra Falls (and got to try out my new enhanced driver’s license).  Total driving time with this route is comparable, but there were far more interesting things to do and see on the way.

I broke up the drive into several days.  I left NYC at 10 am and 4 hours later I arrived at Watkins Glen State Park, located on the Southern tip of Seneca Lake in the Finger lakes region of Upstate NY.  I spent several hours hiking the beautiful Gorge trail, and then I set up my tent in their wooded camping grounds where I spent a peaceful night outdoors.

Watkins Glen Park is a wonderful reminder of just how awesome nature is.  The main attraction of the park is the Gorge Trail.  The gorge has been carved out of rock over time by a glacial stream, and is now around 400 feet deep.  While walking along the trail, you will find yourself over bridges, through rock tunnels, and along the stream, as you encounter 19 beautiful cascading waterfalls.

For other photographer’s out there, the gorge was a great opportunity for me to play with taking long exposure shots because the high rocky cliffs block out harsh sunlights, and I did not need any sort of shaded filter.  But also for photographers – and just people who prefer to be in nature without being surrounded by people (I mean, who doesn’t?), on a beautiful summer day, expect crowds.  I had to wait patiently for groups to pass in order to capture my photos, and seeing lot’s of other human bodies is always a bit annoying when you are trying to “be one with nature”.

That aside, the park is really lovely.  The trail can be done in an hour or two for fast movers or, if you are like me, it can take all afternoon.  And despite wanting to be a bit more alone along the trail, I always have a deep appreciation for interesting geological landscapes.

After the trail was over, I walked upwards to the top of the park’s South entrance where I reserved a campsite for the night.  I set up my new tent and enjoyed a lovely evening outside listening to the sounds of crickets and smelling the fresh air before heading onward in my journey through Niagara to Detroit.
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