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15 Spots You Can Go Free Camping in New York

Who says camping in New York needs to cost an arm and a leg? So many things in the Big Apple may be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you need to shell out big bucks to enjoy a nice tent camping trip.

In fact, free camping in New York can be found all over the state and has sites perfect for nature lovers and budget-minded travelers alike.

Free Camping in New York

Best Places for Free Camping in Western New York

Little Rock City Camp Area:

  • Popular for hiking and nature enthusiasts
  • Features mountain bike trails, remnants of old Seneca CCC camp, and enormous boulders with tunnels and caves
  • Offers several free campsites across the 2,905-acre property for camping, hiking, and picnicking with family and friends.

Ossian State Forest:

  • Location: Livingston County
  • Features: 1,303-acre protected forest with timber, diverse wildlife habitats, and clear water formations
  • Ideal for nature lovers, offering opportunities to see black-throated blue warblers, brook trout, black bears, and more.

North Harmony State Forest:

  • Location: Southwest of Chautauqua George State Forest County
  • Spans 2,561 acres with lush forests and various wildlife
  • Activities: cross-country skiing, hiking, hunting, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and camping
  • Explore on foot, bike, or horseback.

Best Places for Free Camping in Central New York

Rockwood State Forest:

  • Highlights: Situated near Rockwood village on an 856-acre property with access to Rockwood Lake; offers trails, old logging roads, and wildlife; ideal for hiking, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding.

Moose River/Old Forge/Woodhull State Forest:

  • Location: Spanning 3500 acres of land; offers 100 secluded backcountry camping sites; accessible by driving or hiking.

Stoney Pond State Forest Camping Area:

  • Features: 44-acre man-made pond serving as a wildlife habitat; ideal for wildlife viewing, hiking, and enjoying the scenery.
15 Spots You Can Go Free Camping in New York 1

Best Places for Free Camping in Northern New York

Watkins Glen State Park:

  • Offers breathtaking views and free camping
  • Features beautiful waterfalls and amenities like electricity, hot showers, and bathrooms

Cherry Plain State Park:

  • Nestled in Taconic Valley, a 175-acre park with nature trails and secluded campsites
  • Ideal for disconnecting from the modern world and enjoying mountain views

Saranac Lake Islands:

  • Perfect for boating enthusiasts with primitive campsites
  • Offers fishing for rainbow trout, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass, as well as hiking trails

Letchworth State Park:

  • Dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the East,” featuring steep gorges and waterfalls
  • Offers camping in the gorge or on the lakeshore with picturesque views

Wellesley Island State Park:

  • Largest camping complex in the Thousand Islands region with over 400 free campsites
  • Secluded sites reachable by foot or boat, with a sandy beach for sunbathing and swimming

The North-South Lake:

  • Spans 1,100 acres with swimming beaches and picnic areas
  • Ideal for boating, sunbathing, and fishing, with amenities like showers and grills

Kenneth L. Wilson Campground:

  • Features 76 tent and trailer campsites surrounded by mountains
  • Offers canoe and rowboat rentals for fishing, with hiking trails accessible only by foot for a backcountry experience
Watkins Glen State Park

Best Places For Free Camping In Eastern New York.

Hearthstone Point Campground:

  • Located on Lake George in a beautiful cove
  • Offers hiking trails and primitive camping with amenities like electricity, showers, picnic tables, and grills

Schodack Island State Park:

  • Features camping spots and a river
  • Ideal for spending quality time with friends and family, with hiking trails and Bird Conservation Areas for bird watching

Wrapping Up The Best Free Camping in New York

There are plenty of spots for free camping in New York for all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you want a secluded, quiet night alone in the woods or you enjoy the communal experience of shared campgrounds, you can easily find what you’re looking for.

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