Letchworth State Park – The Grand Canyon of the East

Letchworth State Park - BenchGene and I were in Buffalo exploring the area and Niagara Falls in October 2021. While in the area, we were happy to be able to do a short beautiful drive about 35 miles southeast of Buffalo and visit Letchworth State Park.  Neither of us had heard about this place, but our Airbnb host Joanne told us about it and I can’t thank her enough. It is something we are so glad we were able to visit. The road followed the Genesee River and went through several little towns like Leicester, Mount Morris, Portage, Castile, and Genesee Falls. We did stop in one of these little towns to grab a soda to go along with the lunch we had packed for the day.

Letchworth State Park - Falls 1It was a very pleasant and beautiful drive to Letchworth State Park, only about an hour from where we were coming from. We had been hoping to be able to do some leaf-peeping and see a bunch of pretty trees. Sadly the area hadn’t gotten really cold enough for the colors to really pop.  However, there were a few reds and it was still gorgeous and the day was perfect.

Letchworth State Park - BridgeI think I will share a little bit more about the park and its history before I go on, as I stated earlier, we had not heard of Letchworth State Park before our trip to NY. It is roughly 17 miles long and follows the Genesee River as it flows through a deep gorge and over several large waterfalls.  There are actually three falls in total, The Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls. The gorge’s rock walls rise up to 550 feet in some places which have prompted the area’s reputation as the “Grand Canyon of the East”.

Letchworth State Park - TreeWilliam Pryor Letchworth began purchasing land near the middle falls in 1859 and started the construction of his Glen Iris Estate. However, in 1906 he bequeathed the 1,000-acre estate to New York State, who eventually created Letchworth State Park. On November 4, 2005, the park was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today the restored Glen Iris Inn is a hotel located on the top of a cliff overlooking Middle Falls and is open to the public for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Letchworth State Park - SignAnyway, after our drive, we made our way to the Portageville Entrance (there are six and I am listing them below) and paid our fee to get into the park. We stopped to look at the little map they gave us and decided which way we wanted to go and where we wanted to have our lunch.   We were closest to the Upper Falls so we headed that way and found the parking lot.

Letchworth State Park - Upper FallsUpper Falls is about 70 feet high, is about 0.3 miles from the parking lot area, and has a curving horseshoe-shaped crest that is roughly 300 feet wide. Above the falls is a 675-foot long bridge that stands 234 feet above the Genesee River. The original bridge was a timber structure built in 1852, which was destroyed by fire in 1875. The iron bridge we see today is an improved version of the bridge that was built after the 1875 fire. Near the falls is where we enjoyed our lunch and enjoyed the peacefulness of the surrounding area.

Letchworth State Park - Middle FallsAfter we took a bunch of pictures, we decided to check out the Middle Falls.  These falls can be seen by walking a short 0.2 miles from the parking lot area. The falls are 107 feet in height and are roughly 285 feet wide. Many people state that this is the most impressive of the three falls at Letchworth State Park. Maybe it is due to the fact that the majority of the falls in nearly vertical or very steeply terraced. I have to say it was very impressive to me too. I read somewhere while doing research that the Middle Falls are illuminated by 5,000 watts of white light each evening between April and October. I am disappointed that we missed that since we were there in October but didn’t stay until it was dark.   We will have to remember this the next time we are in the area. If you have been, please drop a line and let me know what you thought of the lights and falls at night. Thanks.

Letchworth State Park - Visitor CenterWe were close to the visitors center after seeing the Middle Falls so we popped in for a few minutes. It was interesting, but we really wanted to explore more of the park, so we made our way to the lower falls.  As we found out during our visit, the lower falls are actually two smaller falls now due to erosion. However, according to some information we read, the two sections with eventually reunite and form a single waterfall with a 70-foot drop and a 300-foot wide crest.

Letchworth State Park - Lower FallsIt was an incredible day running around Letchworth State Park and can not say enough good things about this park. Here is a link to their website with more information if you want to plan your own trip sometime. Below you will find a little more information about the park as well as its six entrances I referred to earlier in this post You will not be disappointed if you take a day to visit this amazing area.  . Happy travels.

Letchworth State Park Visitor Information


1 Letchworth State Park Castile, NY 14427




The park is open daily from 6 AM – 11 PM, year-round.


$10 per vehicle


Letchworth State Park has six main entrances.  Four on the west side of the park, which includes the Glen Iris Inn, Humphrey Nature Center, Upper, Middle, and Lower falls, Stone Museum, and the Visitor’s Center/Main Office.

From Memorial Day (May) to Columbus Day (October) entrance gates charge an entrance fee from 9 AM to 5 pm. Visitors 62 years of age or older who are NYS residents can enter free (Monday through Friday only/holidays excluded).

Castile, NY (Main Entrance)

$10 entrance fee required if entering between the hours of 9 am-5 pm (cash & credit card accepted).

Fees are charged from May to October.

Get directions

Perry, NY

$10 entrance fee required if entering between the hours of 9 am-5 pm (cash & credit card accepted).

Fees are charged from May to October.

Get directions

Portageville, NY

$10 entrance fee required if entering between the hours of 9 am-5 pm (cash & credit card accepted).

Fees are charged from May to October.

Get directions

 Parade Grounds

No entrance fee (entrance closed during the Winter).

Get directions

Mt. Morris, NY (Main/west entrance)

$10 entrance fee required if entering between the hours of 9 am-5 pm (cash & credit card accepted).

Fees are charged from May to October.

Get directions

Mt. Morris Dam & Recreation Area entrance

No entrance fee.

Get directions



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