New York Attractions, Nature July 05, 2022
12 Natural Wonders Unique To The Empire State That Should Be On Everyone’s New York Bucket List
New York state is full of amazing and interesting things. It’s home to the biggest city in the country, world-class museums, diverse culture, multiple professional sports teams, top-rated colleges and universities, and
incredible food. However, New York is also home to breathtaking natural wonders that are very, very special. This list of unique and beautiful natural places is a great place to start when exploring the Empire State. Each and every one of these things should be on everyone’s bucket list. Get out there and explore!
1. Niagara Falls
The first natural wonder on this list is known around the world as one of the most beautiful waterfalls on earth. We share these falls with Canada. There are actually three falls altogether - Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, and they are all absolutely spectacular. The highest point of these falls is 167 feet, and during peak hours 5.9 million cubic feet of water goes over the falls every minute. Amazing, indeed.
2. Chimney Bluffs State Park
Chimney Bluffs State Park, 7700 Garner Rd, Wolcott, NY 14590, USA
A lot of New Yorkers don't even know about Chimney Bluffs State Park on the shores of Lake Ontario, but this 597-acre park is home to large, towering clay formations called drumlins. These shapes were made by glaciers during the last ice age. Some are as tall as 150 feet and they are constantly changing and eroding, just like they have for thousands of years.
3. Letchworth State Park
Letchworth State Park, 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427, USA
Letchworth State Park is a large state park in the western part of the state that is absolutely breathtaking. The park follows the path of the Genesee River for 17 miles. Along the way, there are many beautiful waterfalls like Middle Falls shown here. Camping and hiking at Letchworth State Park is some of the very best that New York has to offer.
4. Watkins Glen State Park
Watkins Glen State Park, 1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891, USA
If you like waterfalls, then you'll love Watkins Glen State Park as well - there are 19 different waterfalls to enjoy in this park. Follow the trail along Glen Creek to see them, and feel dwarfed by the 400 foot cliffs that rise above on either side of you. This natural wonder is very unique and special.
5. The Thousand Islands Region
Thousand Islands OPRHP Regional Office, 45165 NY-12, Alexandria Bay, NY 13607, USA
In the far northwest are of New York state, you can visit the Thousand Islands Region along our St. Lawrence River border with Canada. Thousand Islands is actually an understatement; there are 1,864 islands in this area. Some you can visit and others are privately owned. The largest is 40 square miles, but the smallest are quite small. To qualify as an island here, there must be at least three feet of land above water all year, and there must be at least two living trees on it. Visit this area and count as many as you can!
6. Fall Foliage
Fall foliage isn't unique to New York but there's something extra special about autumn upstate. The colors you'll see here are bright and beautiful and varied due to the variety of species of trees in the state. Viewing this natural wonder requires good timing - the peak of foliage lasts only a week or two, and it's difficult to gauge exactly when that will be each year, but if you hit it just right, you'll get an incredible show. Good luck!
7. Lake George
Lake George, NY 12845, USA
Lake George's nickname is "The Queen of American Lakes" and it's easy to see why. This long, skinny, glacial lake is about 32 miles long but just one to three miles wide in most places, and is 187 feet deep at its deepest points. It's popular for recreation and due to the Adirondack Mountains that surround it, it's truly beautiful from every angle.
8. The Adirondacks
Adirondack Mountains, Adirondack Mountains
The Adirondack Mountains cover an area of about 5,000 square miles and some of the mountains in this range reach heights of 5,000 feet or more. There are 200 lakes in the Adirondack Region and over 2,000 miles of hiking trails. These mountains are easy to access and explore, and there's beauty around every turn.
9. Howe Caverns
Howes Cave, NY 12092, USA
Howe Caverns is a commercial cave that visitors can reach by elevator; it's lit by electric lights. Don't let that fool you, though - this limestone cave was formed naturally and is well worth a visit. There are other caves in the area as well, but this is by far the most accessible one for all.
10. Herkimer Diamonds
Herkimer diamonds are not actual diamonds, but they are as beautiful, if not more so, than the diamonds you know well. These double-terminated quartz crystals are found in dolomite Herkimer County and the Mohawk River Valley and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. There are many places where visitors can mine for these crystals and take home with them what they find. These crystals are a natural wonder that is only found in New York.
11. The Hudson Highlands
The Hudson River is amazing from beginning to end. It starts its 316 mile journey at Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondacks and empties in the the Atlantic at New York Bay. There's much to see along the way but perhaps the most beautiful section is the Hudson Highlands area near West Point. The Catskill Mountains rise above the river here for unforgettable views everywhere you look.
12. Long Island Beaches
Long Island, New York, USA
People don't often think of New York as a beach destination but Long Island begs to differ with that assessment. There are sandy beaches on both the north and south shores of the island that rival the beauty of beaches anywhere in the country. Each one is different, so you should try to visit them all.
New York is full of wonders and the natural wonders within the state’s borders are varied and memorable. These are just a few of the amazing things you can see in the Empire State. Did we forget anything? Share any that we failed to mention in the comments below!
Want to hit some of these and more in one big road trip? Check out this post:
This Natural Wonders Road Trip Will Show You New York Like You’ve Never Seen It Before Address: Niagara Falls, NY, USA Address: Howes Cave, NY 12092, USA Address: Chimney Bluffs State Park, 7700 Garner Rd, Wolcott, NY 14590, USA Address: Watkins Glen State Park, 1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891, USA Address: Thousand Islands OPRHP Regional Office, 45165 NY-12, Alexandria Bay, NY 13607, USA Address: Letchworth State Park, 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427, USA Address: Long Island, New York, USA Address: Adirondack Mountains, Adirondack Mountains Address: Lake George, NY 12845, USA Address: Herkimer, NY 13350, USA