Secrets To Avoid Crowds At Watkins Glen Falls NY

Looking to enjoy the beautiful rock gorges and waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park NY without the huge crowds? Watkins Glen Falls is the most scenic stop in the Finger Lakes region of NY.

It is also the most crowded. In this guide, hikers share their secrets to avoiding crowds when visiting Watkins Glen Falls.

Be sure to PIN this to find it again later!


Waterfall With Sun Streaming Through Rocks Watkins Glen Falls

There are 11 lakes that make up the Finger Lakes Region. These finger-shaped lakes were formed by glaciers that scraped across the land. An aerial view of Central New York shows why these lakes look like fingers.

They left behind beautiful rock canyons and impressive waterfalls. Watkins Glen State Park is at the tip of one of the largest of the Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake.

Waterfalls And Stone Bridge Over Rock Gorge Watkins Glen Falls

Why Is Watkins Glen So Crowded?

The reason Watkins Glen is so spectacular is the amount of gorgeous scenery packed into one short hike. This scenic 2 miles boasts 11 waterfalls inside of a 200-foot tall rock gorge!

You can see why this park is so popular. In fact, it was voted in the top 3 US State Parks.

It feels more crowded though because the trail is limited in space inside the rock canyon. Plus this one hike is what everyone is there to see.

Trust us though, this hike is worth it! And I have a SECRET below to skip the crowds.

Path Crossing Underneath Waterfall Watkins Glen Falls NY

Hiking Watkins Glen Falls

The most scenic part of the hike is the Gorge Trail. This trail is the one that goes through the gorge, under waterfalls, and alongside the rock pools.

The Gorge Trail is a stone and gravel path with lots of stairs. It is often wet and muddy so wear sturdy shoes with good traction that can get wet.

The Indian Trail is the trail that is over the rim of the gorge. It is less scenic but also more flat for people that have issues with stairs.

Many people choose to go out on one of the trails and return on the other one creating a 2-mile loop. There are also a couple of small offshoot trails including one with a suspension bridge over the gorge that is fun.

Keep reading to find out the BEST way to combine the two trails.


View Looking Through A Waterfall At Bridge And Gorge Watkins Glen Falls

Don’t Make This Common Mistake At Watkins Glen State Park

If you arrive at Watkins Glen at the wrong time of day or without a plan, this place can look more like a tourist trap! It can be hard to enjoy the scenery through the mobs of people.

The biggest mistake people make when visiting the park is to arrive when it first opens for the day. So many people recommend going early.

Don’t fall into this trap! While this may be good advice for some locations, it is dead wrong at Watkins Glen.

Everyone shows up early also trying to beat the crowds and you can quickly see by the parking lot that this is a mistake.

No worries! Read on for your PERFECT PLAN to avoid the crowds.

Water Flowing From Rock Pools Watkins Glen Falls NY

Your Crowd Free Plan To Watkins Glen Falls

The least crowded time to visit is actually the last 2 hours the park is open for the day. Another bonus to visiting later, is avoiding the heat.

Here is your perfect plan:

1) Go on a weekday if possible

2) Arrive 2 1/2 hours before the park closes

3) Spend the first hour hiking OUT along the rim on the Indian Trail

4) Spend the last 1 1/2 hours hiking BACK via the Gorge Trail

The Gorge Trail is the best of the best, and this puts you on it the last hour of the day when there are hardly any crowds!!!

This also allows you to head down all the stairs in the Gorge Trail because the return is downhill. Double win!

Pro Tip: Another great option for campers is to stay in the Watkins Glen State Park campground. This gives you access to walk over and hike the Gorge Trail at sunrise way before the park even opens to the public.

For more about hiking Watkins Glen, check out Gwen’s article over at Full Life, Full Passport: A Guide To Hiking In Watkins Glen State Park.


I hope this guide empowers you to experience this beautiful natural treasure without worrying about crowds!

Have you ever traveled to Watkins Glen State Park? Was it crazy crowded? Please leave me a comment! I would love to hear about your experiences.

Are you also headed to nearby Vermont on your trip? Check out: 7 Fun Things To Do Near Stowe Vermont.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to Pin it and Share it.

Enjoy your adventure detour!

Waterfalls And Stone Bridge Over Rock Gorge Watkins Glen Falls
Full-Time RV Family In Front Of Mountains


We are so glad you found us. We are Scott, Van & Sissy. We turned our love of travel into a 7 year full-time RV living adventure.

Our goal is to guide you to unique US travel destinations, share RV travel tips, and help you navigate full-time RV living.

Something that makes us different is our unfiltered approach. We choose to share both the benefits and the challenges of traveling and the full-time RVing lifestyle.

Related Articles



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get The Latest

Stay in the loop with our best travel tips sent directly to your inbox. Your adventure detour awaits!

Wish You Knew The Secrets To Snag Hard To Get Campsites?

Get our FREE guide How To Score Sold-Out Campsites In State And National Parks filled with tips and tricks we use to stay in the best campsites, sent right to your inbox!

Check Your Email! The link to your freebie is in your email from [email protected] If you don’t see it, check your SPAM & move it into your Inbox.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This