News from NY State Parks

New York State Parks

July 2018  •  Issue 47

Watkins Glen State Park

Greener Gateway to Watkins Glen

Visitors will find a more welcoming entrance to Watkins Glen State Park, a favorite summertime destination in the Finger Lakes. The $6.5 million project transformed the large asphalt parking lot into a more natural landscaped park setting, including a new welcome center, expanded café, new educational displays and signage, and an outdoor amphitheater for programs and special events. Parking was relocated to a new site away from the gorge to make the park more comfortable and attractive to people before and after hiking the glen, while improving vehicular traffic flow on village streets. The project is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 initiative to revitalize the state park system. Learn more 

Rockland Lake State Park

Dive In

With the weather getting hotter, it’s a great time check out some of the projects that have made some of our State Park pool complexes a lot more inviting.

The north pool complex at Rockland Lake State Park, which has been closed for more than a decade, reopened with modern updates. The new facility features a "spray ground" with a three-story tower, a pair of water slides and a remodeled bathhouse underway.

At Saratoga Spa State Park’s Peerless Pool, an upgraded new bathhouse provides for more green space around the pool, while improving visitor orientation and safety and providing modern changing areas, including family bathroom. The project also created an inviting entrance plaza and courtyard, a large shade canopy, and covered shelters. The pool is convenient to several family friendly features, including a new playground, pavilions available to rent, a disc golf course, and pollinator garden.

At Fort Niagara State Park, a new bathhouse adjacent to the popular swimming pool is complete and now open in time for the swimming season. The bathhouse includes brick and stone masonry that reflects the historic architecture of the old Fort and adds open-air entry to improve sightlines and better connect visitors between the pool and the bathhouse.

The projects were all funded through Governor Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 initiative.

Learn to Swim

Learn to Swim 

Register now for free Learn to Swim programs taking place at over 25 state parks across New York!  The program, now in its sixth year, is offered through a partnership among State Parks; the American Red Cross; the National Swimming Pool Foundation and the Master Pools Guild; the Northeast Spa and Pool Association Foundation. Sign up ahead of time as space is limited and expected to fill up quickly. Each swim program is 40 to 45 minutes in duration and participants who enroll in these lessons will receive a Red Cross Learn-to-Swim Achievement Booklet and a State Parks Learn-to-Swim kit that includes a knapsack, tee-shirt and water bottle at the end of the program. Find a class near you.

Boardwalk Cafe at Jones Beach State Park

Boardwalk Café Returns to Jones Beach

The Boardwalk Café is open for business, bringing back a popular dining option with some of the best views of the ocean, beach and boardwalk at Jones Beach State Park. The new 7,700-square-foot café, featuring an open and airy Market Hall dining concept and distinctive tensile roof, will bring back food and beverage services to a site vacant since 2004, when the previous building was demolished. The café is also connected to newly installed activities including the refurbished East Games Area and the new splash pad and an adventure course to be constructed this summer.  The project is part of Governor Cuomo’s commitment of $65 million through 2020 to restore Jones Beach State Park's historic grandeur, attract new visitors and create new recreational facilities as part of a multi-year revitalization plan. Learn more.

Allegany 18 Trail Challenge

Hike the Allegany 18

With 65,000 acres and miles and miles of trails, Allegany State Park is a backcountry hiker’s dream. That’s why the park created a hiking challenge called “The Allegany 18” to get people out on the trails that so many love and enjoy. The Allegany 18 is a collection of the 18 original hiking trails in Allegany State Park, totaling 70 miles. Hike them all and you can earn serious bragging rights – as well as a custom Allegany 18 water bottle and sticker. 

Pick up a packet at the Red House Rental Office (located in the Red House Adminsitration Building) and the Quaker Muesum Store. Each packet includes 19 maps with interesting information about each trail and a pencil to etch golden trail markers (located on each trail).  Once you have hiked all 18, return the completed maps with etchings to the Red House Rental Office or bring them to a Park Naturalist to recieve a custom Allegany 18 water bottle and sticker. 

Packets are $20 and all proceeds go to develop park programming. Call (716) 354-9101 ext. 236 for more information 

Minna Anthony Common Nature Center

Nature’s New Thousand Island Classroom

Children visiting Wellesley Island State Park have an enhanced place to learn about the diverse plants and animals near the St. Lawrence River. State Parks and the Friends of the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center partnered to renew the nature center named after a pioneering female environmentalist in the Thousands Islands. The project was the first major renovation of the 50-year history. Along with a complete structural renovation, the Friends of the Nature Center raised more than $1 million in private donations and grants to renew the exhibits and interior features. Updates include a new exhibit dedicated to Minna Anthony Common, an accomplished naturalist and advocate for environmental education as well as exhibits featuring the St. Lawrence River, local birds, and forest ecosystem. Learn more

Park Police Recruitment

New York State Parks Seeks Police Officer Candidates

Interested in helping our millions of visitors have a safe and enjoyable visit to New York State Parks? The New York State Park Police are seeking candidates interested in a rewarding law enforcement career in the New York State park system. 

A competitive written Civil Service examination is scheduled for September 15th. Applications for the exam must be submitted to the Department of Civil Service by August 1st, 2018. Apply on-line. 

For information on the qualifications and selection process, visit or Text NYSPARK POLICE to 468311

Ulster Welcome Center Opening

Ulster Welcome Center Opens at Walkway Over the Hudson State Park

The first of two Welcome Centers recently opened at the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in the Hudson Valley. The multipurpose Ulster Welcome Center at the park’s western gateway offers a new plaza and amphitheater seating for special events and programs, covered 1,400-square-foot patio, concession stand and public restrooms. The facility will be a key stopping point on the Empire State Trail, a planned 750-mile bicycle and walking path linking new and existing regional trails spanning the state. The Walkway connects the Hudson Valley Rail Trail with the Dutchess Rail Trail, and work is now under way to link the Hudson Valley Trail to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in downtown New Paltz. Learn more 

2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black

Act Now to Enjoy the 2019 PGA at Bethpage Black

The window for ticket and volunteer registration is open for the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black next May.  Learn more and sign up now

Sue Ward, Saratoga Spa State Park

Behind the Scenery with Sue Ward 
Park & Rec Aide, Saratoga Spa State Park

How long have you been with the agency?  
I started the summer of 2016

What does someone in your position do?  Our park issues upwards of 200 Special Event Permits per year, and I coordinate issuance of those permits.  In the summer, I’m out in the park as a docent, providing tours and interpreting the park for our visitors.  In both those roles, I’m assisting the public to have the best possible experience while visiting our park.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen or done?  Being at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, and in particular, the men’s hockey gold medal game (USA vs Canada).  The coolest thing while working here at Saratoga is giving tasting tours to people from many parts of the world.  People’s reactions to experiencing our mineral waters are quite varied and interesting.

Is there a destination in the park you’d recommend to someone?  The unique cold water CO2 mineral springs at Saratoga Spa State Park, of course!

What inspired you to work in the park system?  After having visited a number of National Parks across the country, I fell in love with parks and wanted to work in one. Lucky me, I’m here at SSSP!