Nature enthusiasts and casual campers alike have much to discover in the outdoors of Chautauqua County.
With four distinct seasons, Chautauqua County offers its residents and visitors access to thousands of acres of land to be explored any time of year.
In response to Chautauqua County's natural beauty, privately owned and operated campsites have existed for many years, providing area residents and visitors with unique outdoor opportunities located in and around the county.
The natural world found within Chautauqua County offers much to be discovered.
Photos Courtesy Of The Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau
Because just about every city, town and village within Chautauqua County hosts a tourism component, campgrounds can be found within close proximity to attractions. Hidden Valley Camping Area, which is just outside Jamestown, offers more than 250 campsites and has campers available for rent. For more information, call 569-5433 or visit www.hiddenvalleycampingarea.com.
Brookside Beach Campground in Westfield, along the shores of Lake Erie, offers access to a private beach and a nearby boat launch for travel trailers, motor homes and tenters. For more information call 326-9945 or visit www.brooksidebeach.com.
Other campgrounds include: Popehaven Campgrounds in Randolph, www.popehaven.com; Camp Prendergast in Mayville, 789-3485 or www.campprendergast.com; Homestead Park in Frewsburg, 569-4666 or www.homestead-park.com; James Lake Front Camping in Lakewood, 763-9797; Blue Water Beach near Barcelona Harbor of Westfield, 326-3540 or www.bluewaterbeach.com; and Camp Chautauqua on the shore of Chautauqua Lake, which is three minutes from Chautauqua Institution, 789-3435 or www.campchautauqua.com.
Those who enjoy the quality and consistency provided by KOA campgrounds can visit the Chautauqua Lake KOA, which is located near Chautauqua Lake and is off Route 430. For more information, call 386-3804 or visit www.chautauquahgts.com. The Westfield and Lake Erie KOA is also available. For more information, call 326-3573 or visit www.koa.com/campgrounds/westfield.
Lake Erie State Park, one of the few state parks located within Chautauqua County that offers camping, is located along the southern shore of Lake Erie, and is in close proximity to the Western New York Concord Grape Belt. The park offers 355 acres, with views from the bluffs overlooking Lake Erie. It features 99 campsites and 10 cabins.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has its own rules and regulations regarding camping within state parks. For more information, visit www.nysparks.com/camping.
The Department of Environmental Conservation annually releases a free camping guide, which includes information on state campgrounds, maps and photos. Although the book covers the entire Empire State, it focuses on specific areas near and within Chautauqua County, such as the Allegany region, which contains the 65,000 acre Allegany State Park - New York's largest state park. Allegany State Park is located off the Southern Tier Expressway, Interstate 86, and is less than 30 miles from Jamestown.
The guide features an introduction by New York's governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, which states, "The campgrounds offer unmatched opportunities to enjoy nature with attractions ranging from swimming, paddling, bicycling, fishing, hiking and boating, to wildlife exploration, winter sports and much more. With many of the campsites located near parks, golf courses, historic sites and other family friendly destinations, an outdoor New York State getaway truly has something for everyone."
The guide is available for download by visiting dec.ny.gov/outdoor/camping.html. A map of Chautauqua County that features a color-coded legend of state forest, special use, wildlife management and state park areas is available by visiting www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/73953.html.
The DEC offers rules, tips and guidelines to follow while camping on protected land. Visit dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7817.html, for more information.
Chautauqua County's Visitor's Bureau also offers helpful information on where to camp and what to do while staying in the area. For more information, call 357-4569 or visit www.tourchautauqua.com.