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Trade Up Traditional Camping Trips for These Outdoor Alternatives

Distant view of a footbridge over water

Peak camping season in Central New York means it’s time to pack up the car, camper or RV and head out to the great outdoors.

Sure, you could pop the trunk, load it up with gear and roll into any great Central New York campground and call it a weekend. But, if tailgate camping doesn’t incite the senses quite like it used to, there are plenty of ways to upgrade your stay.

Central New York has some of the most unique upstate campgrounds around. So, take a break from the traditional and add some surprises to your next campout.

Here are some of the best places to make camp and make memories in Central New York.

Dig Up Diamonds in Herkimer County

Enrich your camping trip with family friendly diamond mining in Herkimer or Middleville, where you’ll find a quartz crystal unique to the area.

“Herkimer diamonds” bring fascination and fun to any campout. You can spend a day prospecting for these gems of the Adirondacks and then unwind at on-site campgrounds.

Both the Herkimer Diamonds KOA Resort and Ace of Diamonds Mine and Campground count hammers and chisels among their amenities.

Have a Historic Camping Experience in Bouckville

Shop around at the Ciderhouse Campground in Madison County. Set in the antiquing capital of Central New York, the 14-acre property is within walking distance of historic Bouckville’s shops and restaurants.

You don’t even have to travel that far during Madison-Bouckville Antique Week each August. Ciderhouse includes one of the 14 showfields full of vendors during New York’s largest outdoor antiques and collectibles show.

The amenities are extremely RV-friendly, so you can park your mobile accommodations with confidence.

Refresh with Waterfalls in Schoharie County

What makes a great camping trip? Just add waterfalls.

Waterfalls Campsite hosts rushing waters perfect for refreshing swims and relaxing ambiance. These 20 acres just outside of Middleburgh also include a pond packed with fish for those who prefer to wet a line while they unwind.

Here, you can pitch a tent or park an RV within about 20 minutes of Schoharie County‘s world-famous Howe Caverns.

Go Off-Grid in Chenango County

Those who really like to rough it should consider an overnight at a primitive campsite in Chenango County, home to some 63,700 breathtaking acres of state forests.

All 30 public woodlands allow camping anywhere more than 150 feet from trails and waters, including some marked areas and the luxury of lean-tos in a few places. Hunt’s Pond State Forest hosts 12 unmaintained waterfront sites that mark a campers’ ghost town at the former location of a state park there.

Backpackers and hikers delight in the 78 miles of the massive Finger Lakes Trail that winds through Chenango County. If you can do without bathroom facilities and other creature comforts, there are endless opportunities for outdoor exploration here.

Get Out There

From RVs to roughing it, campers of all kinds can enjoy many unique outdoor outings in Central New York. These are just a few twists that can add something a little different to your next camping trip.

Learn more about camping in Central New York, where you can craft your own adventure.