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Allegany (New York)
7 miles south of Salamanca, off I-86
65,556 acres Year-round Entrance fee
2,200-foot peaks Hiking, boating, biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, snowmobiling
It’s tempting to lose yourself among the steep valleys, thick forest, and stream-carved mountains of this park. Popular with campers and leaf peepers, Allegany is actually more dramatic in winter, when snow squalls sweep through the hollows, leaving fresh powder for skiers, snowmobilers, and alpine romantics.
Since its origins in 1921, the park has shared a common border with the Seneca Reservation. Their struggle against the federal government’s nearby Kinzua Dam Project is reported at the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum (794-814 Broad St. 716-945- 1738. Feb.–Dec.; adm. fee), just outside the park in Salamanca.
The park’s best views come from the Stone Tower at the Summit Cabin Area, near the north entrance. After a stop here, head south for the 25-mile auto tour. Driving in a clockwise direction, continue south on Park Route 2 and stop at Thunder Rocks to see the house-size boulders. Then your route leads through oil and gas fields along the state border, past Science Lake, and on to the Old Quaker Store Museum, where exhibits highlight park history. On your way back north, visit Stony Brook Overlook for autumnal vistas, and Big Basin for 220-year-old hemlocks.
If you have more time, consider a swim at Quaker Lake, renting a boat at Red House Lake, or hiking the popular 1.5-mile round-trip Bear Caves Trail. There are 45 miles of equestrian trails, used for snowmobiling when the snow falls. Also in winter, skiers will find excellent trails and rentals.
Camping and Lodging The park has 423 tent and RV sites, with showers; 10 full-service cottages; 364 cabins (some open for year-round use). Reservations advised in season; call 800-456-2267. Camping fee.
Allegany State Park, 2373 ASP Rte. 1, Suite 3, Salamanca, NY 14779; 716-354-9121; www.nysparks.com/parks