When people imagine a trip to New York, they usually picture a stop in the Big Apple. However, as you leave the 5 districts behind, you’ll find an abundance of breathtaking natural landscapes. It’s no surprise that the earliest American resorts were established in New York State, given the state’s abundance of dramatic waterfalls and canyons. Take a road trip around New York State and see the sights that captivated the country’s founding fathers.
Locals and tourists alike continue to travel to many of New York’s historic sites. New York is a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts, whether you want to go hiking in the highlands or relax by a lake. Keep reading to learn more about the amazing natural attractions in New York that you must see on your next road trip.
Top 10 natural wonders in New York, USA
Here’s a list of the top 10 natural wonders in the state of New York that you can’t miss visiting when traveling to the state. Have fun!
- Niagara Falls State Park
- Letchworth State Park
- Howe Caverns
- Finger Lakes
- Watkins Glen State Park
- Adirondack Mountains
- Catskill Mountains
- Ausable Chasm
- Thousand Islands
- Chittenango Falls State Park
Niagara Falls State Park
Niagara Falls is the most famous of New York’s natural attractions and serves as a dividing line between Canada and the United States. This magical place is not only one of the most iconic attractions in America but is also one of the best natural wonders in New York.
The majority of the Niagara River’s water rushes over Horseshoe Falls, the greatest of the waterfalls. The amazing force of Horseshoe Falls may be seen firsthand on a Maid of the Mist boat excursion that departs from the American side.
Hike around Niagara Falls State Park and look down on the crashing waterfalls of American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. You may reach within feet of Bridal Veil Falls if you visit the Niagara Gorge and make your way to the Cave of the Winds walkways.
Letchworth State Park
One of the most breathtaking canyons in the Eastern United States may be found at Letchworth State Park, which is also one of the best natural wonders in New York. Letchworth State Park, rated America’s most beautiful, follows the Genesee River as it drops three spectacular waterfalls into a deep valley. Over 550 feet in height, the rocky cliffs are encircled by lush trees.
There are 66 km of paths to explore, and the Gorge Trail provides access to breathtaking vantage points near each waterfall. Other blazed paths are suited for mountain biking, equestrian usage, and even snowmobiling in the winter. Extremists can try whitewater rafting down Class II and III rapids or hot air ballooning over the valley.
To fully appreciate New York’s natural beauty, a visit to Howe Caverns in Schoharie County is a must, as it is one of New York’s top natural wonders. Being approximately 200 feet below ground in old tunnels gives off a forbidden, otherworldly vibe.
The average year-round temperature in the network of big and tiny caverns that make up Howe Caverns is a cool and wet 52 degrees. There is no sunlight to be seen, and a subterranean lake is known as the Lake of Venus. Unique rock formations await you as you make your way into the tunnels. Waves, spikes, and other peculiarly pliable rock formations are the result of centuries of mineral runoff.
A 90-minute tour will take you through the human-friendly sections of the caves. Follow the paved walkways and stairwells down 156 feet into the earth. You’ll be exploring subterranean passages, passing underground cathedrals, and intriguing geological structures that emerged over millions of years.
Located in western New York, south of Lake Ontario, is a collection of eleven lakes known as the Finger Lakes. They have a significant impact on the surrounding ecosystems and are among New York’s best and most intriguing natural wonders. There are wilderness regions with miles of routes for hikers and places to pitch tents. The cliffs of land between the lakes are forested with trees that turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow in the New York autumn.
Boating and fishing are popular pastimes in the Finger Lakes. There are public boat ramps and private boat rental businesses on every lake. You may catch your fill of trout, salmon, and largemouth bass at Seneca Lake. Alternatively, you may go to one of the many parks that provide beaches around the lake.
There is a thriving wine and culinary culture, picturesque little villages, and significant historical sites, all within easy driving distance of the lakes.
Watkins Glen State Park
Images resembling a nature lover’s fantasy are created by the trickling stream falling into the canyon at Watkins Glen State Park, which is one of the greatest natural wonders in New York. The Finger Lakes region’s 400-foot valley is home to approximately 20 waterfalls and lush vegetation. The Gorge Trail, which winds its way through the canyon, is the best place to take in the area’s tranquil waterfalls and glistening pools.
At Rainbow Falls, you may get beautiful images of the surrounding woodlands and the stone bridge across the creek. Rim paths provide access to the canyon all year, unlike the Canyon Trail, which is only accessible during certain times of the year. Campers may choose from a variety of sites, and swimmers can cool down in the park’s Olympic-size pool.
More than six million acres of the Adirondack Mountains are set aside as a protected habitat specifically for hikers. This area is also one of the most gorgeous natural wonders in New York.
There are more than 2,000 miles of hiking routes in the area, attracting hikers from all around the region. Mount Marcy is New York’s highest peak, with an altitude of 5,344 feet. To see breathtaking vistas, take the Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway to the peak of Whiteface Mountain.
The 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics were staged in the adjacent community of Lake Placid, while the actual ski contests were placed at the Whiteface Mountain ski resort. Mirror Lake is a popular destination for boaters in the summer and ice skaters in the winter, while the Moose River Plains is a great spot to get away from it all.
The Catskill Mountains are not only a popular destination for those from the city looking for a peaceful weekend getaway but also one of New York’s top natural wonders. Hikers may retrace Rip Van Winkle’s route through verdant groves and down to gushing waterfalls. All skill levels may find an appropriate trail, and some of them lead to beautiful vantage points over the Hudson River Valley.
Tourists go to Hunter Mountain so they may ride the nation’s highest and fastest zipline. The Catskill Forest Preserve is a famous destination for mountain bikers and fishermen alike. Countless creeks, streams, ponds, and other bodies of water are home to some of the best fly-fishing in the United States. Windham Mountain has become a popular winter recreation destination for snow sports enthusiasts such as skiers, snowboarders, and ice skaters.
Ausable Chasm is located in the Adirondacks, not far from Keeseville, Lake Champlain, and the Vermont/New York state line. Our list of New York’s best natural attractions includes this stunning sandstone gorge, which is often overlooked by tourists.
Ausable Chasm has been a tourist attraction for almost a century and a half, earning the nickname “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks.” Waterfalls, ridged rock walls, and old bridges and structures dot the landscape of this 2-mile-long valley. Most visitors make use of the area’s many hiking routes, many of which provide stunning views of the gorge below. Some people use suspension bridges to span the gap many times!
For an alternative viewpoint, try one of the ropes courses that run beside the chasm, or go on a lantern-lit walk to the river’s depths at night. In addition to rafting down the river, other activities include rock climbing and rappelling. Take the Rainbow Falls route in the summer to reach the gushing waterfalls at the canyon’s southern end. Even in the middle of winter, hikers on the Rim Trail may view Ausable Chasm covered in snow.
Approximately 1,800 of the islands that make up the Thousand Islands archipelago serve as a boundary between the United States and Canada. Images of lavish houses, vacation cottages, and nautical landmarks may be seen as the boat winds through the island’s dense forests. Once frequented by pirates, the St. Lawrence River’s canals are now mostly occupied by wealthy tourists.
Joining a guided boat trip is the best way to see the era’s fairytale castles, which were constructed for the wealthy. Boldt Castle, with its charming love story, is a popular attraction, while the isolated Singer Castle is rumored to be haunted. Fishing trips and wreck diving are two examples of more exciting activities you get to experience in this place which is one of the best natural attractions of New York state.
Chittenango Falls State Park
Chittenango Falls State Park, located within a 15-minute drive from Cazenovia Lake, is home to one of the most picturesque natural attractions in all of Central New York. The 167-foot waterfall is the park’s centerpiece and cascades down solid rock into a tranquil brook. There are a number of trails that lead to different vantage points at the falls. The cascade is surrounded by lush vegetation, and a stairway leads down to a footbridge at its base.
The Gorge Trail Circle is the most well-known route; however, there are numerous paths to choose from. The 193-acre park features a variety of fauna as well as picnic sites, a playground, fishing locations, and more.