Watkins Glen State Park History

“The Glen” was first opened to tourists on July 4, 1863 by local newspaper owner Morvalden Ells and the landowner, George Freer. Upwards of 10,000 tickets were sold in the first year! After changes in ownership over the years, New York State purchased the property in 1906 and opens the park to visitors, free of charge. In 1924, the first established New York State Parks department in the Finger Lakes Region took over management of the park.

Much of the stonework in Watkins Glen State Park was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was active in the park from 1935 to 1941. They built park buildings, trails, stonework, bridges, and many other projects.

Today, Watkins Glen State Park is one of the top attractions in New York State. Considered a flagship park by the State of New York, this incredible destination has been leaving visitors spellbound for generations. It features 19 waterfalls in less than 2 miles. There are over 800 steps on the Gorge Trail, with plenty of places to stop, rest, and enjoy the views along the way. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the cascading spray of caverns. The Gorge Trail is open seasonally - usually from mid-May through the end of October. The Rim Trail overlooks the gorge and is open year round.


In addition to Watkins Glen State Park, there are many other outdoor adventures to experience in Schuyler County including the Catharine Valley Trail, Finger Lakes National Forest, Finger Lakes Trail, and Sugar Hill State Forest.