"Far above Cayuga's waters, with its waves of blue, stands our noble Alma Mater, glorious to view." This is the opening line to Cornell University's Alma Mater-located in scenic Ithaca. Not only is it one of the most famous songs of its kind, but it also does our scenery justice.
New York State is known for its beautiful natural lands and bountiful views, one of which is The Gorges in the sprawling Finger Lakes region. But nature's poetry doesn't stop there. Try birdwatching, traveling through a wildlife refuges and picnic in a nature preserve. Foliage tours along the ponds of Allegany State Park or view the scenic vistas found from the top of a mountain. Try exploring the grottos of a billion-year-old cave at Natural Stone Bridge. If you're looking for Mother Nature, look no further-it's obvious she loves New York!
Add together four mountain ranges, thousands of lakes, river and streams, and several hundred state and national parks, and you’ve got the great New York outdoors.
The camping and fishing, hiking, skiing and rafting are legendary here, making for endless New York nature vacations from Long Island to Niagara Falls.
Why not start your outdoor vacation in New York with the parks? Delta Lake State Park is one of the most popular, with picnic areas, hiking and nature trails, bass and trout fishing, a sandy beach for swimming and plenty of camping sites. Near Cayuga Lake, nature lovers flock to Buttermilk Falls for woodland hiking along the gorge, picnics and playing fields. In the lower park, nature trails wind through a shady glen called Larch Meadows.
Jones Beach State Park brings you closer to marine life with exhibits and family adventure. Here at the home of the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center children can feel live marine animals, dig up whale bones in Discovery Bone Cove, visit a butterfly garden or view a shipwreck.
For Niagara outdoor activities, hikers can’t get enough of Whirlpool State Park’s nature trails and spectacular views of swirling rapids along the Niagara River Escarpment, while hikers, snowshoers and skiers flock to trails at Beaver Lake Nature Center and Highland Forest.
Nothing says nature like birds. You’ll see plenty in the woods and marshlands, lakes and ponds at spots like Tifft Nature Preserve, with miles of trails, viewing blinds and unmatched bird watching. Gaze skyward and discover why Audubon Magazine ranks the Lake Champlain Birding Trail one of the nation’s top bird watching destinations. The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is open year-round for hunting and fishing, hiking and cross-country skiing, smack in the middle of bird migration routes.
Natural wonders abound at Natural Stone Bridge & Caves where a billion-year-old marble cave offers self-guided tours down a natural stone nature trail past tranquil grottos and waterfalls. Miles of nature trails wind through 150 landscaped acres at Oyster Bay’s Planting Fields Arboretum, blossoming with hibiscus, orchids and succulents.
The Great New York outdoors is not confined to the countryside. New York’s larger cities provide plenty of nearby nature in parks and preserves, zoos and recreation fields. TripAdvisor rates the Rosamond Gifford Zoo as Syracuse’s top attraction, while the Cold Spring Harbor Aquarium shows off the largest living collection of New York State freshwater reptiles, fishes and amphibians.
In the New York metro, The Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park offers outdoor hiking trails, glacial rock formations and wetlands. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is home to 300 species of migratory birds. You can ride a bike along 32 miles of waterfront at the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. Stuyvesant Cove Park is a good place to spot monarch butterflies, and Staten Island’s Great Kills Park offers kayaking among osprey nesting sites.