The Best Camping Near Rochester, New York

The Best Camping Near Rochester, New York

Rochester is the perfect base camp for exploring all that Western New York has to offer. From Lake Ontario to the Finger Lakes wine region to the Erie Canal, campgrounds near Rochester will have you soaking in natural splendor.

Rochester, New York
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About Camping Near Rochester

Perfect for anyone wanting a blend of urban and rural when it comes to their camping experience, campgrounds near Rochester offer a quiet, rural reprieve from the burgeoning city scene. Pop into the city to check out the Strong National Museum of Play or the George Eastman House and then head for the countryside to explore Finger Lakes wineries and agritourism. Wherever you chose to stay, camping near Rochester is sure to be the perfect mix of natural beauty and convenience.

Top Campgrounds Near Rochester, New York

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Rochester Camping FAQs

Despite the city’s torrent of winter weather, Rochester sees mild summers and a beautifully crisp spring and fall. Waterfalls abound from the center of downtown to Niagara Falls, only an hour’s drive away. Nicknamed both Flour City and Flower City, Rochester was known historically for its position as a mill town and burgeoning seed market.

If you’re a chionophile (someone who loves snow), Rochester, New York just might be heaven on earth. Although the thick blanket of winter doesn’t bode well for camping conditions, it does make a visit to Flour City a must for hibernal lovers. Camping in summer is one of the best ways to spend your vacation in the Empire State. From vineyard hopping in the Finger Lakes to making birdie at world-class golf courses, check out all the best things to do and see when camping near Rochester, NY.

What’s the best time of year to go camping in Rochester?

Rochester sees four seasons, meaning certain times are better than others to go on a camping trip. As a three-season camping destination, the best time to go camping in Rochester is from June to September when temperatures are steady, with highs in the mid-80s and lows in the 50s. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall can be chilly with evening lows in the 30s and 40s.

Rochester is frequently rated as one of the snowiest cities in the United States and sees an average of around 90 inches of snowfall a year. That’s a lot of powder! Camping is prohibitive in winter due to the heavy snow and constant chance for blizzards. Those who do venture out for camping in this season should be well-experienced and prepared for below freezing temperatures.

What should I pack for camping near Rochester?

With mild weather from spring to fall, including the summers, Rochester is perfect for getting out in nature. Here are just a few of the things you should pack for a camping trip near Rochester, New York.

  • Fire starter
  • Bug spray
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Headlamps or flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Compass
  • First aid kit
  • Bear-safe containers
  • Emergency blanket
  • Waterproof matches

For Campfires

Cozying up around a fire and roasting some delicious s’mores is one of the best parts of camping in New York state. Be sure to bring a fire starter and purchase your wood from local areas. Always adhere to park rangers’ guidance and signage on fire safety.

Bug Protection

Rochester’s proximity to the Great Lakes and endless bodies of water in general mean that the mosquitoes will be out in droves in the summer months. Come prepared with bug spray, permethrin-treated clothes and tents, and a netted canopy for relaxing at camp, sans pestering insects.

What are the top outdoor activities near Rochester?

Rochester prides itself on lifting the veil between city life and our natural environment. From jaw-dropping waterfalls to some of America’s best golf courses, here are some great outdoor activities near Rochester.


With 577 miles of trail winding its way past waterfalls, along the lakeshore, and through acres of woodland, hiking is one of the best ways to spend time in nature near Rochester. The Lower Falls Trail in particular offers stunning views of the Genesee River and a swirl of stunning autumnal foliage in October.


As Rochester is situated on Lake Ontario’s southern shore, camping here provides a great opportunity to hop in a kayak or canoe and get out on the open water.

Winter Sports

From skiing to snowboarding, snowshoeing to cross-country skiing, Rochester is truly a winter wonderland come December. A couple of great areas for winter sports nearby are Bristol Mountain Ski Resort and Brantling Ski Slopes. If you love snow, this is the place to be!


Rochester is a premier golfing destination in the U.S. and was voted 10th Best Golf City in the U.S. by Golf Magazine. Bring your clubs and test out a course like The Links at Greystone, a golf course created in the Scottish style.

Vineyard Hopping

Only an hour from downtown Rochester, the superbly stunning Finger Lakes region of New York is host to a dizzying number of vineyards. Sit along the lake shore and sip wines created from grapes that have been growing here for over 100 years. Cideries and craft breweries are also popping up. Follow one of three wine trails around the lakes for a relaxing weekend in the sun.

What major sights should I see in Rochester?

After spending a few nights in the wilderness, you might be craving a bit of civilization. Here are the best things to do in the city of Rochester.

The Strong National Museum of Play

Devoted to the study and appreciation of play, the Strong National Museum of Play is an interactive museum that prides itself on its fantastical exhibits like the Skyline Climb. Margaret Woodbury Strong founded the museum, and she was an avid collector of many things, including toys. Not your typical children’s museum, this is a unique spot to bring kids on a rainy or snowy day.

George Eastman Museum

As the oldest photography museum in the world, the George Eastman Museum houses an intricate collection of film and photo and regularly hosts viewings of archived films. It’s no wonder such an illustrious photography museum was created in the home of Kodak.

Seneca Park Zoo

The Seneca Park Zoo is a 20-acre menagerie home to hundreds of animals, from the African penguins to red pandas. Wildlife conservation is at their heart and the zoo funds research projects around the globe.

Memorial Art Gallery

Affectionately referred to as MAG, the Memorial Art Gallery collection spans 5,000 years of art from ancient Japanese scrolls to Jackson Pollock.

Seabreeze Amusement Park

The Seabreeze Amusement Park was originally founded in 1879 on the shores of Lake Ontario. Zip around on the Jack Rabbit roller coaster or take flight in the Seabreeze Flyers. The whole family is sure to enjoy!

Rochester Public Market

The Rochester Public Market is one of the oldest in the United States. The public market boasts 300 stalls and is open every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday throughout the year. Come here for Flour City Bread Co.’s fresh baked loaves but stay for Smugtown Mushrooms fungal wonders.

Are there any national parks or state parks near Rochester?

With the city’s myriad waterfalls, maybe Rochester should have been nicknamed Waterfall City! Come explore a few of the nearby state parks, many of which are home to plunging cascades, including the famous Niagara Falls.

Letchworth Falls State Park

(1 hour, 5 minutes)

With scenic cliff-top views and stunning waterfalls, Letchworth Falls State Park is well worth the hour-long drive outside of Rochester. Called the “Grand Canyon of the East,” the park sees the Genesee River, the same one that flows through downtown Rochester, carving its way through the gorge. The most iconic waterfall of the more-than-dozen is the Upper Falls with the beautiful train trestle perched above it. This is an absolute must-see in Rochester!

Finger Lakes National Forest

(1 hour, 20 minutes)

The Finger Lakes National Forest is the Empire State’s only national forest and home to abundant wildlife. Blueberry and raspberry picking is popular in the summer months. This is a great addition to a Finger Lakes road trip.

Watkins Glen State Park

(1 hour, 25 minutes)

Small cascades of waterfalls abound at Watkins Glen in the spring, summer, and fall with over a dozen trickling streams carving their way through rock formations, like the Cavern Cascade or Rainbow Falls.

Taughannock State Park

(1 hour, 25 minutes)

Taughannock State Park’s claim to fame is the incredible, 215-foot Taughannock Falls which plunges into the gorge below. The falls are even more picturesque in fall when golden leaves frame the cliffs beside it.

Green Lakes State Park

(1 hour, 30 minutes)

Named for the cerulean waters of its two glacial lakes, Green Lakes State Park is famous for its pristine natural beauty. Golfing, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing are some of the most popular activities, aside from swimming in the azure lakes. Kayaking and canoeing are not allowed due to the fragile nature of the lakes.

Niagara Falls State Park

(1 hour, 23 minutes)

Flowing across the border of Canada and the United States, the Niagara Falls gush over 3,000 tons of water every second. Visitors can come year-round to see frozen plumes of ice or rainbows in the mist, although facilities are limited in winter. The iconic Maid of the Mist runs from April to November, depending on the weather. You can witness the majesty of Niagara Falls from the Hurricane Deck in the Cave of the Winds.

Where are the best places to eat near Rochester?

From historic breweries to the best frozen custard this side of the Mississippi, Rochester is home to a delightful array of eats. These are a few of the best places to eat in Rochester, New York.

The Owl House

Situated in a cozy, historic home, the Owl House is a haven for vegetarians, vegans, or those who are gluten-free and offers homey classics like herb-roasted portobello and rosemary fries.

The Gate House

A casual eatery located in the Neighborhood of the Arts in Rochester, the Gate House is known for its gourmet burgers and wood-fired pizza.

Abbott’s Frozen Custard

With locations across the U.S., Abbott’s Frozen Custard has been a permanent fixture of the Rochester community since its founding in 1926. Taste-test the Gooey Peanut Butter or Great Lakes Banana Boat for a sugar rush.

Genesee Brew House

Housed in an old packing facility, Genesee Brewery is one of the oldest in the United States. Try local favorites like buffalo pierogies, a nod to Rochester’s Polish heritage with an American twist. You can’t leave without sampling their signature brew, a Genesee beer, the same recipe as the original from 1878.

The Mercantile on Main

The Mercantile on Main is Rochester’s first-ever food hall and houses four restaurants and a coffee house. It’s the perfect place if you can’t decide where to eat and want to try it all.

Nick Tahou Hots

Perhaps most well-known for the infamous “Garbage Plate,” the dish contains macaroni salad, baked beans, hash browns, and french fries with your choice of meat on top. Topped with their signature hot sauce, this is a specialty only found in Rochester.

What are some camping mistakes to avoid when camping near Rochester?

Rochester is a fairly straightforward area to camp in and enjoys mild temperatures in spring, summer, and fall. Winter is a brute and force to be reckoned with. Here are a few common mistakes that you should avoid when camping around Rochester.

Camping in Winter

Rochester’s winters are downright frigid and see an average of almost 90 inches of snow a year! Blizzards are common in the dead of winter from December to February and can be deadly. Always be sure to check the weather ahead of a trip, although winter camping in Rochester isn’t advisable.

Ignoring Ice Safety

While the Great Lakes and other nearby streams, rivers, and lakes might look frozen over, they can be incredibly dangerous. Never walk out onto a frozen body of water or ice shelf which can collapse unexpectedly, even if it seems stable.

What wild animals might I encounter while camping in Rochester?

Rochester is home to a plethora of woodland and city-dwelling species like white-tailed deer, red fox, black bears, bats, raccoons, opossum, turkeys, coyotes, otters, snapping turtles, and thousands more. A few rare species do call Rochester home and include the Plymouth red-bellied turtle and Jefferson’s salamander.

If you find yourself camping in an area with black bears, like the Finger Lakes, follow signage and park ranger guidelines for food storage and safety. They may require that you hang all of your smell goods from a bag in a tree, 200 feet away from where you sleep.

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