Letchworth State Park: “Grand Canyon of the East”

By Charlene S. Mixa

Waterfalls, a Deep Gorge & Lush Forest!

Upper Falls Letchworth State Park

Upper Falls Letchworth State Park

Our drive today takes us across the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes and its rich farmland on our way to Letchworth State Park. The park is a beautiful 17 mile gorge between Portage and Mount Morris, New York, renowned as the “Grand Canyon of the East”.

Middle Upper &  Falls at Letchworth State Park

Middle Upper & Falls at Letchworth State Park

The Genesee River roars through the gorge with three major waterfalls with cliffs as high as 600 feet high and surrounded by lush forests. We stop by the Middle Falls which has great views of the Upper Falls and Middle Falls. Nature trails and paths wind through the forest giving more spectacular views of the multiple falls while stone walkways provide easy access to vantage points for viewing the falls for the less adventurous. The map guides us to various stopping points as we drive through the Park. The area was originally owned by William Pryor Letchworth and he built his home here, which is now the Glen Iris Inn. A great place to enjoy lunch, sorry we didn’t make arrangements to do that.

Middle Falls - Letchworth State Park

Middle Falls – Letchworth State Park

We particularly enjoy the museum with the excellent history of William Pryor Letchworth, his life and how he came to acquire the land and later establish the park. The William Pryor “Rules of Conduct” give insight into the quality person he was and serve as a great reminder to us in living our lives.



View of gorge at Letchworth State Park

View of gorge at Letchworth State Park

With 14 thousand acres along the Genesee River the Park has not only stunning scenery but miles of trails, swimming pools, and facilities. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do. As we reach the more northern end of the park, the river is now a trickle and the area opens up to a huge canyon. At the north end of the park is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dam at Mount Morris. Built in the late 1940’s, the Mount Morris Dam is the largest of its type east of the Mississippi River.

Truly a fantastic park, it can be visited multiple times with each visit bringing a new experience. We exit the park at Mount Morris checking in at Country Inn and Suites. The hotel has that country feel with modern amenities. Our room is spacious with a king bed, desk, a credenza plus cable TV. The Jacuzzi tub is inviting after a long day of walking and hiking in the park. On our multi-week trip we are always glad to have a mini fridge to get items out of the cooler. With a drive to Niagara Falls tomorrow we are glad to have the complimentary breakfast at the Country in to get us on our way. Now, we are definitely ready for dinner and a quiet evening if relaxation in our room.

The Genesee River Restaurant is conveniently next door to the Country Inn and Suites, so we walk to dinner. Originally known as The Genesee River Hotel, the Genesee River Restaurant and Reception Center has been run by the same family since 1962. Patrick Wills, the current owner, grew up in the business and purchased it from his uncle, Marty Estruch in 2008. In the warm dining room we enjoy excellent dinners and service. I am thrilled with my multi-cheese Mac ‘n Cheese after all the day’s activities. It’s been a full day and we are back in the room to check emails, plan the next stage of our trip and relax.

Letchworth Middle Falls with Rainbow

Letchworth Middle Falls with Rainbow

New York’s Finger Lakes region offers a wonderful variety of activities for travelers of all ages and interests. With its pristine lakes, beautiful rolling countryside, lush forests, and rich history there is much to see and do. We had a wonderful journey through New York’s Finger Lakes and Letchworth State Park is a fantastic finale. Visitors will find the Finger Lakes fun, fascinating and fabulous! 

If you go: 

Country Inn and Suites, 130 N. Main St., Mount Morris, NY 14510; 585-658-4080


Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, 309 Lake Street, Penn Yan, NY 14527; 315-536-7488 or 800.548.4386; www.fingerlakes.org

Genesee River Restaurant, 134 N. Main St., Mount Morris; 585.658.2949; geneseeriverrestaurant.com/

Letchworth State Park, 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427; http://nysparks.com/parks/79/details.aspx



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About Charlene Mixa

Seeing new places, learning about cultures and seeing the sights has always been my dream. Growing up I was blessed with parents that enjoyed traveling and thought nothing of taking a family of seven on excursions. My career in Human Resources and later as a consultant for an international Human Resource firm offered some travel, but I knew as my husband and I approached retirement, my goal was to do more traveling and broader trips. The nine years since retirement has been filled with fantastic adventures from short local one day trips to several week excursions. Living in Florida, it is especially enjoyable to be away in the summer to cooler climates. Multi-week driving trips across the good ol' USA, settling in for a month in the mountains to explore the local area, or a combination of both fill much of our summer season. Our travels are predominantly self-orchestrated, bringing the fun and challenge of getting everything to click. It's all about doing and sharing! Experiencing a travel adventure is exciting. Reliving a special travel moment with a friend or family is exhilarating. I feel my heart race and pulse quicken, as I sharing that special moment. Thank you for joining in my travel adventures and allowing me to hear your stories.