10 Natural Wonders in New York State
New York State is blessed with an abundance of beautiful scenic natural wonders spread out all over the state. New York is loaded with waterfalls, mountains, beaches, lakes and rivers that offer visitors fantastic views and tremendous outdoor recreational opportunities. Choosing 10 natural wonders in the state is an easy task in some cases like with Niagara Falls but a difficult one overall because New York State has so much beautiful scenery to offer to vacationers and travelers but these are the ten most beautiful natural wonders in New York.
Niagara Falls is not only the greatest natural wonder in New York State it is one of the greatest natural wonders in the world. Only two other waterfalls in the world can really compare to Niagara Falls. Victoria Falls in Africa and Iguacu Falls which is shared by Argentina and Brazil in South America. Niagara Falls is also shared between New York State and Canada and the flow of water over Niagara is roughly 1.5 million gallons per second half of which must flow over the falls during daylight hours for tourists to see and the other half is used for generating electricity. At night 3/4 of the water flow is diverted for hydroelectricity but only after midnight as they light up Niagara Falls at night until midnight to keep visitors entertained and to keep the hotels in the area filled with overnight guests. Some 25 million people a year visit Niagara Falls.
Image Source (Lake George from Buck Mountain)
Lake George is a beautiful long lake located at the southeast end of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. The lake has a long history of being a popular tourist attraction and remains so today especially in the summer when hoards of tourists descend upon the Lake George area for hiking, camping and boating vacations. In the past Lake George was a popular vacation spot for America's aristocracy as the Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Roosevelt and Whitney families all vacationed here and frequented the luxurious Sagamore Hotel. Today Lake George is frequented more by middle class families seeking relief from the summer heat and many of the vacationers like to canoe or boat in the lake to places like Roger's Rock, Deer's Leap, Diver's Rock and Double-Diver's where one can leap from heights into the cool blue refreshing depths of beautiful Lake George.
The Catskill and Shawagunk Mountains
Extending from the border with northeastern New Jersey, upwards to the southwest of the state capital of Albany, are the Shawagunk and Catskill Mountains. The Shawagunks or Gunks is an often exposed ridge of bedrock that extends from the New Jersey border to the Catskills and is extremely popular with rock climbing enthusiasts. The Catskill Mountains extend from the Gunks right up along the Hudson River Valley and contains 30 peaks over 3,500 feet in height and six rivers that are very popular with trout fishermen. Both the Gunks and the Catskills are popular tourist attractions in New York State and many people who live in New York City own or rent vacations homes in these two beautiful mountain ranges in New York.
Image Source (Canadice Lake in Fall colors)
The Finger Lakes are a series of beautiful neighboring lakes that extend north and south next to each other like extended fingers in west-central New York State. The Finger Lakes are long and thin with the longest of the lakes being Cayuga Lake which is over 38 miles long and never much more than 3 miles wide. Other lakes in the chain include Seneca, Keuka, Cananadaigua, Owasco, Otisco, Canadice, Skaneateles and Hemlock. The Finger Lakes region is well known for its wine as many wineries and vineyards are located in this area of upstate New York and almost all are open to the public for tours. The area is also home to multitudes of waterfalls and beautiful gorges. The Finger Lakes region is one of the best tourist and vacation areas in New York State.
Located in northeastern New York is one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the United States the Adirondack Mountains. There are over 40 mountain peaks in the Adirondacks taller than 4,000 feet including majestic Mount Marcy which is the tallest mountain peak in New York State at 5,344 feet. Interspersed among the mountain peaks are any number of spectacular lakes and rivers including Lake Placid, Saranac Lakes and River, Raquette Lake and River and Long Lake. The Adirondack Mountains are contained in Adirondack Park which is bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon and Glacier National Parks combined. The Adirondacks are a popular getaway vacation and tourist spot full of great lodges and hotels for hikers, campers, fishermen and hunters and anyone who loves to enjoy nature and the great outdoors.
Located in the St. Lawrence River that comprises much of the border between New York State and Canada is the archipelago of islands known as the thousand islands. There are actually 1,793 islands in the archipelago which extends for some 50 miles in the St. Lawrence and the largest of the islands is over 40 square miles while the smallest is just an outcropping of rock extending above the waterline. The Thousand Islands region has a long history of being a popular summer vacation spot and many wealthy people built vacation homes on the islands including George Boldt who built a castle on one of the islands. Boldt ran the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and was introduced to a locally made salad dressing while vacationing in the Thousand Islands which Boldt made famous when he instructed his head chef at the Waldorf to make the salad dressing and call it Thousand Islands. Today the Thousand Islands remain a popular tourist attraction and vacation spot in New York and is especially popular with boaters and fishermen.
Montauk Point on Long Island
Montauk Point is located at the end of Long Island and is the easternmost point in New York State. The town of Montauk is a major tourist destination full of restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and hotels and the visitors love the area because of the many beaches and outstanding fishing as Montauk claims to have the most saltwater fishing records in the world. There are six state parks located in the area which is also very popular with surfers. The Montauk Lighthouse lies at the very tip of Montauk Point.
Image Source (Hudson River Valley is America's Rhine)
The Hudson River is one of the most beautiful rivers in the United States as it flows 315 miles from Lake Tear of the Clouds on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains to New York Bay and the Atlantic Ocean just south of New York City. As the Hudson River flows through the Catskill Mountains it forms the fantastic Hudson River Valley which is often referred to as "America's Rhine". Other beautiful spots along the Hudson River include the Narrows which separate Brooklyn and Staten Island, the Palisades which are steep cliffs above the river in New Jersey across from upper New York City, Bear Mountain, the Hudson Highlands and the numerous islands in the river including Pollepel Island where Francis Bannerman built his famous castle to store his Navy surplus goods. The Hudson River is a great recreational river for hikers, boaters including many sail boats, fishermen, campers, visitors and travelers in New York State.
Chimney Bluffs on Lake Ontario
Located on the shores of Lake Ontario in upstate New York State are the large clay rock formations known as the Chimney Bluffs. The largest of the pinnacles and cliffs that make up the Chimney Bluffs rises over 150 feet from the shoreline. The bluffs were formed as a result of glaciers during the last ice age and have since been continually molded and shaped by wind, rain, snow and Lake Ontario waves crashing up against them during storms. The Chimney Bluffs have been a notable landmark along Lake Ontario's shoreline for many years and the bluffs were used as a landing point for smugglers bringing in liquor from Canada during prohibition. The Chimney Bluffs are located in Chimney Bluffs State Park at 7700 Garner Road in Wolcott, New York about 50 miles east of Rochester and 50 miles northwest of Syracuse.
The Grand Canyon of the East in Letchworth State Park
Located in Letchworth State Park is the magnificent canyon gorge carved out by the Genesee River that as is often called the Grand Canyon of the East. With sheer rock walls that rise as much as 600 feet above the river and three major waterfalls flowing right through the canyon the Grand Canyon of the East is one of the greatest natural wonders not just in New York but in the Northeast and in the United States. Tourists who visit here are never disappointed and most are very surprised to find another great natural wonder in western New York State that is less than 100 miles east of Niagara Falls. The Grand Canyon of the East in Letchworth State Park is located between the towns of Mt Morris in the north and Portageville in the south.
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