Watkins Glen State Park's Rainbow Falls in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York
© Kenneth Keifer/Alam
Wandering Watkins Glen
When we talk about celebrating public lands, the images that pop into our heads are generally icons of the famous national parks out West. Old Faithful, El Capitan, the Arches. Our photo for National Public Lands Day highlights the relatively unsung beauty of the more than 10,000 state parks dotting the nation from coast to coast.
Watkins Glen State Park, just south of Seneca Lake in upstate New York, is centered around a trail that descends with this rushing stream through picturesque cliffs, passing over and under 19 waterfalls. Sure, it's not Niagara Falls (which is part of the same New York State Parks system and is the oldest state park in the US). But especially in the crisp northeastern autumn, this stepped gorge is a tranquil showcase of the rugged landscape surrounding the glacially carved Finger Lakes region.
According to the National Park Service, National Public Lands Day is the largest volunteer event in the US, with opportunities to help with conservation and maintenance from city parks to national forests. But if you'd rather keep your distance, relax, and enjoy the public spaces we all share, most state and national parks are waiving their entrance fees for the day. Happy trails!