Why RVing in New York State Should Be on Your Travel Bucket List
New York State offers a beautiful landscape and loads of unique attractions to explore, making it an ideal destination for RV travelers. When RVing in New York, you’ll discover the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation.
From dense forests and cascading waterfalls to charming towns or bustling cities, an RV trip in New York State truly has something for everyone. In this article, we will help you plan the perfect RV adventure in New York.
Why Choose New York for Your RV Trip – Discovering New York State’s Natural Wonders
Many travelers not familiar with this part of the country may automatically think of New York City when they consider New York. After all, New York City is a top travel destination and definitely worth a visit!
However, there is so much more to see and do during an RV trip to New York than just the city. Besides the bustling energy and excitement found in the Big Apple, there is also the rush of awe-inspiring water found at Niagara Falls, stunning canyons and waterfalls abundant in the Finger Lakes Region, and mountain action galore in the Adirondacks.
With countless picturesque campgrounds, state parks, and RV-friendly destinations, there’s no shortage of opportunities for exploration and recreation at your fingertips. One trip and you will wonder why you waited so long to explore this beautiful state.
Tips To Prepare for an RV Trip to New York State
Before embarking on your RV trip to New York State, there are some considerations to take into account so you can avoid any surprises. It helps to make sure your RV is in great working order and not overloaded, especially if you will be traveling through the mountainous areas of the state.
Also, consider the season you will be traveling to New York so you can pack the correct clothing and gear for the weather. New York State has cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers.
Spring and fall are considered by many to be the best travel seasons. The temperatures are more comfortable for outdoor activities, and the scenery is beautiful. From blooming spring flowers to stunning autumn foliage, spring and fall are tough to beat for New York RV travel.
As beautiful as it is to visit during the fall season, be sure to note when campgrounds close for the season. Depending on the area, most campgrounds shut down for the season sometime in October. Also, check for campground season opening dates in the spring if you would like to head that way during the shoulder season.
When planning your RV adventure to New York, there are a few things to keep in mind when navigating the state.
Toll roads are common in New York, so be prepared to pay tolls or obtain an E-ZPass to save time and money. Keep in mind that toll fees vary based on the size and weight of your RV.
Be sure to check local toll rates and regulations before your trip. We also found that the toll lanes throughout New York seemed extremely narrow. Take things slow and look to see if there is a truck lane as you approach the toll pavilions (sometimes the right lane).
It helps to do a little research on New York roadway regulations related to RVs. For instance, New York State Parkways do not permit motorhomes or trailers. If you have a trailer, are over 5,500 pounds, or have rooftop cargo, you will need to find another route for your RV that doesn’t include state parkways.
Plan your route in advance using an RV-friendly GPS or an app to avoid road restrictions and low bridges. Keep reading for more info on a great RV GPS to help keep you out of trouble when navigating New York in your RV.
Finding RV-friendly rest stops in New York can make your trip much more enjoyable. The New York State Thruway system features Travel Plazas/rest areas and welcome centers that are RV-friendly.
Be aware of city traffic, especially in highly populated areas like New York City and surrounding boroughs. Remember that maneuvering an RV through busy streets can be challenging, so be patient and give yourself plenty of time to navigate tight corners and narrow lanes.
New York City Things To Know
Consider skipping taking your RV through New York City. You could choose to ride the train in or take a ride share if you don’t have a separate vehicle.
The traffic and pedestrians are hard to navigate, and finding a place to park is a large challenge. It is easier to camp farther outside of the city and take a different form of transportation for sightseeing.
If you do drive your RV into New York City, note that your RV is considered a commercial vehicle within the city. If you have more than ten pounds of propane on board, you are not allowed to drive through any tunnels without prior clearance from the Department of Transportation.
When traveling over any multi-level bridges in your RV with propane, you must choose the upper level of the bridge. By looking into the commercial vehicle regulations prior to your trip, you will better know what to expect.
Using An RV Safe GPS Is Helpful in New York
New York State has many low-clearance bridges and toll roads. To stay out of trouble and keep your trip stress-free, consider getting the RV Safe GPS app included in the RV LIFE Pro membership.
This RV Safe GPS provides turn-by-turn navigation for your RV even when you are offline. It will let you know about not just low-clearance bridge hazards but also propane-restricted tunnels, so you never have to worry about picking the wrong route during your RV trip.
Top RV Parks and Campgrounds in New York
There are many great choices for camping throughout New York State. Here are a few ideas to get your travel planning started.
Location can be everything when camping, and this campground is close to the action on Lake George and just down the road from Six Flags Great Escape. Camping close to the lake provides easy access to fishing and boating fun.
Enjoy a view of the mountains from the campground. Amenities include full hookups, Wi-Fi, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a splash pad, a hot tub, tennis courts, a theater for live performances, a movie theater, and a free trolley that takes you right into the heart of all of the area shops and restaurants.
This big rig-friendly campground is a great base camp for your New York City adventures. By staying 60 miles from the city, you can enjoy peaceful, beautiful surroundings while still being within driving distance from the Big Apple.
This campground not only offers a convenient location, but it is open year-round for RVers who prefer to skirt the shoulder season and enjoy visiting with less crowds. Black Bear Campground offers full hookups, some pull-throughs, nature trails, a fishing pond, and even a disc golf course.
This campground is located on the beautiful shoreline of Lake Ontario. Guests love spending time on the lake, swimming beach, and at the pool.
Both back-in and pull-through campsites are available. There is a mini golf course available and a tennis court. Some sites are full-hookup, while others lack sewer.
This campground is a great mountain spot for outdoor adventure seekers. This Adirondack Mountains campground offers access to the Ausable River with kayak rentals, a swim beach, and fishing.
This is a great basecamp for exploring downtown Lake Placid, hiking in the Adirondacks, or going on an offroad adventure. Both pull-through and back-in campsites are available. Some campsites are full-hookup, and many are big rig-friendly.
HTR Niagara, formerly called the Branches of Niagara Campground and Resort, is in the perfect location for exploring Niagara Falls.
The campground has a general store, swimming pool, mini golf, and many guided activities, including children’s crafts. Water lovers enjoy the swimming beach and canoeing right from the campground.
With so many activities, there is something for the whole family to enjoy. Campground favorites include the lake zipline and laser tag. Note that some activities have an extra fee.
All of the RV sites offer full hookups. You can choose from back-in campsites or pull-through big rig-friendly patio campsites.
RVing in New York State Parks
New York State is home to many beautiful state parks that offer incredible recreational opportunities, as well as top-rated campgrounds for you to park your RV. This section will explore four popular state park areas: Adirondack Park, Finger Lakes State Parks, including Watkins Glen State Park, Thousand Islands State Parks, and state park camping near Niagara Falls, including Four Mile Creek State Park.
Adirondack Park is a large and scenic area that covers more than six million acres of wilderness. It’s actually the largest publically protected park within the US lower 48 states.
While this park absolutely deserves a spot in this article, it’s technically not a state park. It’s considered the US’s largest National Historic Landmark and one of the first Forever Wild Forest Preserves.
Adirondack Park offers around 3,00 lakes and 2,000 miles of hiking trails for you to explore, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Don’t miss a visit to The Adirondack Experience to learn more about the history of the area and the need to protect this wilderness from the logging industry for all to enjoy.
When RVing in the Adirondacks, prepare to be surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including spectacular waterfalls, rivers, and towering mountain peaks. Visit the Wild Center Natural History Museum to learn more about the geological features and nature within the park.
Campsites available in Adirondack Park vary from state-operated campgrounds to privately owned campgrounds. Each campground offers various facilities, so be sure to research within RV LIFE Pro Campground Reviews to find the amenities you are looking for. Some popular camping options within the park include Ausable Chasm Campground, High Falls Park Campground, Little Wolf Beach and Campground, and Natural Bridge Waterton KOA.
Finger Lakes State Parks
The Finger Lakes region of New York State is named for its 11 finger-shaped lakes that span across the central portions of the state, offering you numerous opportunities for fishing, paddling, and water-based recreation.
The region’s gem, Watkins Glen State Park, is an area not to miss. This park features a carved river rock gorge with 19 impressive waterfalls that cascade near the walkway. The park also offers an Olympic-sized swimming pool for day visitors or campers to enjoy.
Camping within Watkins Glen State Park allows you to stay near the action. Some campsites are dry camping, while others offer electricity. A freshwater fill-up station is available, as well as a dump station.
Note that there is a minimum campsite stay of 2 nights, and no walk-up campsites are available. The exception is for reservations made within 7 days of arrival. Those last-minute reservations can be for 1 night.
Thousand Islands State Parks
Thousand Islands State Parks offer scenic beauty and loads of outdoor recreational activities. The region is named for the over 1,700 islands that line the St. Lawrence River, creating a unique and beautiful landscape. Visiting Thousand Islands State Parks allows you to experience attractions such as Boldt Castle and the Antique Boat Museum.
One of the best state park campgrounds in this region for big rigs is the Wellesley Island State Campground. This is the largest campground in the area and a popular choice for fishing and other water sports. The campground has a swim beach, marina, and 4 boat launch areas.
There are loads of things to do outdoors here, from teeing off at the island’s 9-hole golf course, playing at the arcade, or hiking and enjoying the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center. Most campsites are electric only; however, 56 campsites have full hookups.
State Park Camping Near Niagara Falls
A popular tourist attraction and destination for RV travelers in New York is Niagara Falls. This stunning natural wonder is a must-see when visiting the state.
Although there are many state park camping options near the falls, Four Mile Creek State Park is big rig-friendly and offers beautiful Lake Ontario views. Four Mile Creek is conveniently located 15 minutes from the falls and even offers a free Discover Niagara shuttle.
The campground offers some electric campsites and some dry camping sites. There is a camp store, hiking trails, volleyball, and Ranger programs offered. Grab discounted tickets to the Maid of the Mist boat tour and Cave of the Winds at the campground.
Campgrounds for Visiting New York City
When visiting New York City, it’s easier to camp outside the city. RV parking is difficult since space is limited, and an RV is considered a commercial vehicle.
A convenient nearby urban option is Liberty Harbor RV Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. This campground is located only 15 minutes from the city. The NY Waterway Ferry picks you up right from the campground and drips you off at Wall Street.
Alternatively, you can take the PATH train or Hudson Bergen Light Rail to reach the city. Liberty Harbor offers water and electric campsites and has a dump station. It also has a restaurant and bar.
Once your RV is parked, the easiest way to get around New York City is through public transportation. The subway system offers quick and inexpensive access to all five boroughs, and buses help cover any gaps. Alternatively, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are readily available if you would rather skip navigating public transportation.
Exploring New York Historical Sites and Cultural Attractions
New York State is a treasure trove of historical sites and cultural attractions. As you hit the road on your RV adventure, be sure to include these must-visit locations on your New York itinerary.
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island: These iconic symbols of freedom and immigration are a must-see for any New York traveler. There is no RV parking near the ferry launch to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Consider staying at Liberty Harbor RV Park and using transportation into the city to enjoy this attraction.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art: One of the world’s largest and finest art museums, the Met is home to an extensive collection of artwork spanning 5,000 years. RV parking in Manhattan is limited, so consider parking your RV at a nearby campground and taking public transportation to the museum.
- Central Park: A stunning famous 843-acre urban park located in the heart of Manhattan, Central Park is the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature. The park features historic architecture such as the Belvedere Castle, stunning bridges and gardens, whimsical sculptures with themes such as Alice In Wonderland, fountains, and the American Museum of Natural History.
- The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA): Showcasing some of the world’s most iconic modern art pieces, MOMA is a must-visit cultural attraction. Similar to visiting the Met, consider parking your RV at a nearby campground and taking public transportation to the museum.
- Fort Ontario State Historic Site: Located in Oswego, this unique star-shaped fort from the 1840s served as a British military garrison during its time and later a Holocaust refugee survival camp. There is no RV parking available at this attraction, but nearby state park camping is located at Fair Haven Beach State Park.
Enjoying New York State’s Culinary Scene
As you travel through New York State in your RV, you will be delighted to discover a rich culinary scene. From local specialties to internationally famous dishes, there are plenty of options for food lovers to check out.
New York is home to some unique food and drinks that you don’t want to miss on your RV trip. Be sure to try their famous Buffalo wings, a delicious combination of chicken wings with a variety of spicy sauce options. Also, remember to grab some sponge candy for dessert when you’re in Buffalo.
When it comes to beverages, New York is famously known for its wine, especially throughout the Finger Lakes region. Finding local food and beverage trails offers the opportunity to experience craft wineries, breweries, and distilleries throughout the state. Be sure to visit some well-known wine trails like Cayuga Lake Wine Trail or Seneca Lake Wine Trail to taste world-class wines in a gorgeous setting.
New York is also proud of a vibrant craft brewing scene, with many breweries offering RV-friendly amenities such as spacious parking lots and outdoor seating areas. Some well-known options to try include Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood and Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown.
For dining options on your trip, consider checking out farm-to-table restaurants showcasing local ingredients in their dishes. The New York Kitchen, located in the Finger Lakes, is a great destination for those wanting to experience locally sourced meals and even participate in one-of-a-kind cooking classes.
Discovering New York State by RV
RV travel in New York State offers so much more than just a visit to New York City. The many cultural experiences, historical sites, outdoor adventures, and bustling city life are all yours to explore. From the Big Apple to the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
As you plan your RV adventure, carefully plan your route using an RV GPS to avoid low clearances, commercial vehicle restrictions, and tunnels where propane isn’t allowed. Also, keep in mind which routes require tolls and look for truck lanes through narrow toll plazas. With a little preparation and a sense of adventure, you will have an unforgettable time RVing in New York State!