We headed out late morning for a driving tour of Letchworth State Park. From the campground, we drove south on the Park Road. Though we stopped at some of the overlooks along the way, I'm going to write this post going from south to north to provide a little order to the photos.
The most southern entrance to the park is at Portageville. However, this entrance is closed until 2018 as construction has begun on the new bridge over the Genesee River to replace the Norfolk Southern High Bridge you will see in the photos below. The Park Road is closed beyond the parking area for the Upper and Middle Falls making access to the beginning of the very popular Gorge Trail more difficult.
Since we couldn't go all the way to the southern end, we parked in the Upper/Middle Falls parking lot. It's a short walk to the Upper Falls, and you can see the waterfall from the parking area.
The railroad bridge is above and behind the lovely Upper Falls.
On this Tuesday in late June, there were just a few people at each stop. The light crowds made for quite an enjoyable day.
From the Upper Falls, we walked the trail along the river toward the Middle Falls. Along the way, this Eastern Milk Snake crossed our path.
It was about three feet long and the most colorful snake we've seen in the wild on our travels.
It's a fairly short, flat walk from the Upper Falls, and we were soon at the top of Middle Falls.
Rounding the corner, there was a "mistbow" below.
Middle Falls is the centerpiece of the park, .....
and the Glen Iris Inn sits on a bluff above the falls. Perhaps we'll get some photos of the Inn and the views from there another day.
We walked back to the Jeep and took the road that goes between the Middle Falls walkway and the Inn back to the Park Road. At the intersection, there is a bench and this view of the canyon.
One of my favorite views of the gorge.
Continuing north on Park Road, we stopped at the Inspiration Point Overlook. Another fabulous view of Middle Falls, with Upper Falls and the High Bridge above in the background.
Next, we stopped at the Visitors Center.
It's mostly administrative offices, a window to ask questions, and a gift shop. We could've skipped it.
We saw several deer in the pines in the area of the Visitors Center.
Next there is a turn off to the Lower Falls area. There is a restaurant, Adventure Calls Outfitters (rafting and paddling), a picnic area, and trails to view the Lower Falls.
From the parking lot, it's a short walk through a picnic area to this sign where you have a choice.
You can stay up top and walk to the "easy view" of the falls, or take the 127 steps down to the trail for a closer view of the falls plus access to a stone footbridge crossing the river. We headed down the steps.
We walked directly to the Lower Falls, another beauty.
But, sadly, this was the location of tragedy less than two weeks ago. Ignoring the warning signs banning people from the riverbed, a family of seven (two adults and five children) were in a restricted area above the waterfall. One fell and the rest also fell trying to help. All seven went over the falls and two little boys (ages 6 and 9) died.
With all the beauty of the this park, caution around the waterfalls and ledges is not something to be taken lightly.
This is a view down the chute from the Lower Falls as the river passes under the foot bridge.
These shots are taken from the side trail and steps leading to the foot bridge.
Views from the foot bridge.
Toward the falls.
And below the foot bridge.
Trails continue along the river on the east side, but we didn't go too far as the vegetation blocked the views. One more shot looking back upriver at the bridge and falls.
And one last shot downriver before climbing back up the steps to the parking area.
Still heading north we came to the Big Bend Overlook and that's also where the road from the Castile entrance to the park comes in. That's one of the main entrances, but if you are arriving in a larger RV and going to the campground, I highly recommend coming in the Perry entrance. The Park Road from the Castile entrance north to the campground has some sharp turns and short, but significant grades.
Looking downriver from the Big Bend Overlook.
This tiny squirrel was checking us out.
From random overlooks continuing north.
We spotted some kayakers in the river.
We might just have to do that. :)
From another small pull-off.
And these pics are from the Tea Table Overlook.
We drove down into the St. Helena Picnic Area, but didn't get out or take any photos. There is a trail to the river and that is where you take out if you are paddling.
The last major stop before the campground is the Gardeau Overlook, but it had the least noteworthy view.
The farther north we went, the fewer people we saw, and we were fortunate to watch a Red Fox cross the road and trot into the woods.
As we neared the camping area, it started to sprinkle. We had left the windows open, so we decided to call it a day rather than completing the north end of the park. Plenty of time to do that over the next couple of days.
Hope you enjoyed today's photo tour. It's certainly a beautiful place. :)