Contributed by Katie Levy of Adventure-Inspired
Cool breezes, sunsets to die for, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation are among the many reasons to visit the Thousand Islands region of New York. Stretching from Lake Ontario to the west along the St. Lawrence River to Lake Champlain to the east, it’s one of the most beautiful places, in my opinion, to spend a warm weather weekend.
I grew up visiting the Thousand Islands with my family and have fond memories of playing Capture the Flag with my brother, raging bonfires on the banks of the St. Lawrence with my cousins, learning to fish with my father, and visiting family staying at nearby campgrounds.
Though you won’t find solitude or quiet during the high season at any of these campgrounds, there’s just something special about sleeping next to the river. The three options below are great places to start when you’re planning your next trip to the Thousand Islands.
On the Boat – American Narrows [Image Credit: Katie Levy]
Burnham Point State Park
If you’re looking for a relatively small, quiet campground with easy access to local attractions and towns, start your search with Burnham Point State Park. Located just east of Cape Vincent, New York, Burham Point is home 47 campsites situated right on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Waterfront access and unobstructed views are available for a lucky few who make reservations far enough in advance, but the most choice sites go quickly during peak season.
This year, the park is open from May 22nd through September 6th with peak season beginning July 25th and ending August 7th. Campsites start at $15, but be aware of additional charges for electric hookups, out-of-state reservations, prime and waterfront sites, and weekend/holiday visits as well as vehicle entry fees.
Once you’re there, the park hosts boat launches, boat docking, a playground, showers, grills, pavilions, picnic tables, and more for visitors. Fishing and boating are popular activities at Burnham Point. Plus the park is close to local shopping, grocery stores, and other activities.
Bonfires on the St. Lawrence [Image Credit: Katie Levy]
Cedar Point State Park
If you’re looking for a bustling campground with a sand beach, plenty of docking for boats, and plenty of room for children to run around, Cedar Point State Park is an ideal option. Like Burnham Point State Park, Cedar Point is a popular, beautiful campground nestled right along the St. Lawrence River. Located just north of Burnham Point in Clayton, New York, Cedar Point hosts 165 sites, including RV-accessible sites as well as tent sites.
The season at Cedar Point is a bit longer than at Burnham Point, stretching from May 1st through October 11th this year. Sites start at $15, but additional charges apply for RV hookups, out-of-state reservations and more, as with Burnham Point State Park.
Cedar Point is always busy during the summer season, and with good reason. The park is home to baseball fields, a boat launch, dump and comfort stations, fishing opportunities, picnic amenities, a recycling station, volleyball courts, and best of all, a sheltered sand beach for swimming and relaxing. Even if you’re not staying in the campground, paying the day-use fee for access to the beach is highly recommended!
Sunset Over Carlton Island [Image Credit: Katie Levy]
Wellesley Island State Park
Technically part of the Town of Orleans in Jefferson County, New York, Wellesley Island hosts the largest camping complex in the Thousand Islands region. With over 400 sites available, visitors can stay in tents, RVs, trailers, even fully outfitted cottages with porches ideal for sunset watching. Though it’s a massive complex, you can still find a handful of secluded sites accessible only by foot or by boat.
Wellesley Island is open for year-round visitation, but not all campground loops and cottages stay open all year. Be sure to look at Reserve America for dates and availability as well as site prices and additional fees. The best part? As the name suggests, if you stay the night, you’ll be camping on an island.
The park hosts four full-service boat launches, docks, dumping stations, showers, food concessions, golfing, fish cleaning stations, nature trails, a museum, baseball fields, a camp store with laundry facilities, and much more. Miles of hiking trails and granite outcrops are ideal for sightseeing and sunset-watching. If summer isn’t your favorite season, drop by Wellesley Island in the winter for cross-country skiing and ice fishing.
Find out about any of these state parks in the Thousand Islands region and more by downloading the free Pocket Ranger® Guide for New York State Parks mobile app!
Have you been to any of these state parks or to the Thousand Islands Region? We’d love to hear from you!