General Info: Cayuga Lake is the longest (38 mi), widest (3.5 mi) and second deepest (435 ft.) of the glacier-carved Finger Lakes in central New York. The lake also covers the deepest salt mine in North America, which spreads across 18,000 acres at a depth of 2,300 ft. below the surface. The southern end of the lake is framed in by steep walls, while the northern shores gently slope to the water’s edge. Cayuga Lake State Park, near the town of Seneca Falls on the lake’s northwestern shore, is a great place to take in the lovely scenery and enjoy the lake’s outdoor activities.
On your way to the state park, survey the sights along the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway from Ithaca to Seneca Falls, where you’ll follow the western lakeshore on NY-89 past miles of farmland and countryside.
Hours and Fees: Cayuga Lake State Park is open all winter, but the camping season runs from the last weekend in April to the last weekend in October. The swimming beach opens on June 20. Last year’s day-use vehicle entry fee was $6. Call the park office at (315) 568-5163 for visitor information.
Activities: The lake’s varying depth allows for a variety of fishing: in the shallows near the state park there are largemouth bass, bullheads and carp, while anglers can catch northern pike, small mouth bass, lake trout, and landlocked salmon in deeper waters. Sunbathers will enjoy the gently sloping lawns adjacent to the swimming beach. The park rec field is perfect for a variety of sports and other games. Of course the boat launch ramp will come in handy for boaters looking to cruise around the lake.
Explore the picturesque town of Seneca Falls, known as the Historic Gateway to the Finger Lakes. Here you can visit the meeting place of the 1848 First Women’s Rights Convention, tour the home of suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or walk down the charming streets of the town’s historic district.
The Cayuga Wine Trail is a fun way to explore the countryside and sample some of the area’s world-class vintages. In addition to the 16 wineries, the route also takes you past several lovely waterfalls and delicious gourmet eateries. Download the 2009 Wine Trail Brochure PDF to learn more.
Pets: Your leashed pets are welcome at Cayuga Lake State Park as long as they have proof of rabies vaccination. Pets are not allowed in bathing areas.
Camping Info: The park campground features 286 gravel, back-in RV campsites measuring 12×35 ft. The campsites have no hookups except for 36 sites with 30 amp electrical service. Each campsite is handicap accessible and includes a fire ring and picnic table. Restrooms with showers and a dump station are available for your convenience. Nightly rates range from $13-$16 depending on type of campsite.
The Spruce Row Campground & RV Park is a privately-owned campground in Ithaca that has RV campsites measuring 50×65 ft. for those of you with larger rigs. This park has 90 RV campsites with water and electrical hookups (20/30 amp), and 23 sites with full hookups. The camp store sells groceries, RV supplies, LP gas and firewood.
If you’re from the Empire State or have visited Cayuga Lake State Park in the past, please chime in with your stories and tips! Your insights can help others have a fantastic trip.