Adventure in Upstate New York; Watkins Glen; Letchworth State Park; Taughannock Falls; Niagara Falls
It would be an absolute understatement to call upstate New York anything but a wanderer's paradise. During my time there, I was fortunate enough to experience what New York has to offer for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Despite New York's reputation of being home to one of the most well-known and largest cities in the United States, there are many natural areas that provide some powerfully beautiful views! My hunny and I traveled to Taughannock Falls, Watkins Glen, Letchworth State Park, and of course Niagara Falls; all of which were extremely impressive and possess an untamed beauty.
For the duration of our New York stay, we made ourselves at home in the most wondrous cabin, (courtesy of Airbnb). This cabin was located just above a lake, in the middle of the woods, totally isolated from any kind of "hustle and bustle". Conveniently enough, this lovely cabin was just a little over half an our away from our first destination; Taughannock Falls. Taughannock Falls is the tallest, single-drop waterfall that can be found east of the Rocky Mountains. It is a whopping 215 feet tall, making it a considerable amount taller than Niagara Falls. On the trail leading back to this slice of paradise, you are met with incredibly large cliff walls that make up the gorge itself. There is an exceptional pallet of colors lining these cliff walls, further adding to the natural beauty of this landscape. The hike from the start of the trail to the waterfall is approximately a mile long, even a little less. As soon as you reach this remarkable waterfall, you can instantly feel the power of this particular part of the earth. You instantly feel the cool breeze and chilling mist hit the surface of your skin, making you feel even more alive and rejuvenated than you already do. Taughannok Falls was once a territory belonging to the Cayuga people, a group of Native Americas who once called these falls home. You can immediately feel the presence of Native American culture still emanating throughout the area. In fact, the name "Taughannock" is believed to translate to "great fall in the woods". It is also theorized to be named after a chief who died near the falls during the Clinton-Sullivan Campaign. I will definitely be back some day to intake the majestic presence of this hidden treasure again.
Our second stop on the map was Watkins Glen. Watkins Glen is most commonly recognized for it's 19 waterfalls that can be found throughout the trail. Unfortunately, the main trail where the waterfalls can be found was closed off due to the winter season. However, that didn't stop us from enjoying the unique views! We walked through the trails above the actual creek, giving us a neat bird's-eye perspective. Watkins Glen is a 400-foot deep gorge, cut through by Watkins Creek. Watkins Creek came to be thousands of yeas ago during the Ice Age when a glacier had deepened the Seneca Valley. Being how close in proximity Seneca Lake is to Watkins Glen, we were sure to stop at the lake for some additional New York Views. The color of the creek was an incredible and captivating blue/green iceberg pigment. It was hard not to be mesmerized by that feature of the gorge alone! I hope to go back during the summer and fall to get the full experience available at Watkins Glen. You can find those photos at the end of the photo grid below!
Following Watkins Glen, we decided we just had to go see Letchworth State Park. Letchworth State Park is commonly referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the East Coast", due to it's remarkable canyon-like walls that line the the gorge where the Genesee River flows through. Aside from the insanely high gorge views, there are multiple waterfalls of various sizes accompanying the landscape. The three falls that can be seen within the park include the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls, all of which are pleasant sights to see! The multitude of color from the water, rocky walls, and forest unite to create a charming area of protected land. Letchworth State Park is quite massive, covering an exceptional 14, 427 acres. Standing on top of the brick wall, looking out across the cliff sides and down into the river not only gives you a sense of freedom, but also makes you feel extraordinarily humble. The cliff walls are mostly consistent of shale, limestone, and sandstone. Interestingly enough, a great deal of marine fossils have been found in these walls further revealing secrets to the past. Following the northern portion of the park leads you to the Mount Morris Dam which was built from 1948 to 1944, by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The water resting by the top of the dam has an unusual stillness compared to the water throughout the rest of the park. The overlook in this specific area was extremely peaceful in its own outstanding way. Letchworth not only has vibrant views of Mother Nature untamed, but it's safe to say it also has a vibrant history.
Our fourth destination is perhaps one of the most sought-out places in New York, Niagara Falls. This raging waterfall is a shared sight between the United States and Canada, and ranking as one of the largest waterfalls in the entire world! It was truly bizarre how loudly we could hear the roar of the falls, despite being a distance away. Standing in front of this waterfall just reinforces how powerful the element of water can be! The vastness of the waterfall is overwhelming, but in an enchanting perspective. Niagara Falls stands at 176 feet tall, comprised of three different waterfalls ranging in size. The waterfalls are individually named Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Horseshoe Falls is also referred to as the "Canadian Falls". It is incredible how tiny you feel while gazing out across this monumental landmark. Over 8 million people from all walks of life come to see this magnificent giant on an annual basis. At one point, we were looking down into the pool of effortlessly flowing water to find that there was a rainbow that ad appeared. We watched in awe as water birds flew in and out of the rainbow, swarming the falls beneath us. I've never seen a site quite as magical as that very moment. Being that our trip happened to be in the winter time, the ground near the waterfall was completely frozen over and coated with a semi-fresh layer of snow. I always try to challenge myself in capturing landscapes from wildly unique angles and perspectives. In doing so, I captured some beautiful macro shots that demonstrate just how untamed Niagara is. I look forward to the day that I go back and venture to the Canadian side, as well.
If you're looking for an adventure that won't break the bank, but offers magical and larger-than-life views, upstate New York is the place to go. Not only are the hikes, views, locals, and wildlife spectacular, but the history of all of these unique places are filled with rich origins. I don't know how soon I'll be back to adventuring this incredible state, but I know I will definitely be back in the future.