By Alicia Dziak

Summer means peak season at Allegany State Park (ASP) and peak season means a full schedule of activities to be had! Head to the largest of New York State’s parks and enjoy 65,000 sprawling acres of outdoor fun.

While cabins must be rented for a minimum of seven nights this time of year, camp sites can be reserved for fewer, and there are many to choose from. To check out what’s available, visit www.reserveamerica.com.

You can also head to the park for the day.

ASP’s naturalist-led daily programs make learning fun. Enjoy nature walks and scavenger hunts, learn about plants and animals and discover cool places in the park. Ten new programs have been introduced this year, like Wetland Walks, Night Hikes and Team Challenge Games. For more info, visit www.facebook.com/alleganystatepark or pick up the schedule at either rental office inside the park.

Through mid-July, Allegany State Park’s Environmental Education Department will offer hikes to view the rare Synchronous Fireflies – once thought to exist in only a handful of places in the world.

The Photinus Carolinus species, also known as the Synchronous Firefly, flashes only from late June to mid-July.

In 2012, the Firefly International Research and Education Team came to study the local firefly species, and confirmed its existence in the Branch Creek area of Allegheny National Forest.

After lead naturalist, Adele Wellman, and other volunteers and naturalists from Allegany State Park received the training necessary to identify the species, the park naturalists looked in similar habitats and were able to identify the Synchronous Firefly for its first confirmed sighting in New York State.

For information on other programs, please check Allegany State Park’s activity schedule at www.facebook.com/alleganystatepark , or call (716) 354-9101 ext. 232.

Sally’s Hootenanny has begun for the season! Join Sally Marsh for this ASP tradition—a weekly sing-along at the Quaker Amphitheater, Thursdays at 8 p.m.

Weekly artists-in-residence will perform concerts throughout the week throughout the summer. Performers include Darrell Porter, Will Lowry, Jess Chizuk, Davis & Eng Band, Keith James, Ken Hardley, Sean Patrick McGraw and Katy Webster.

Head to Red House Lake or Quaker Lake and rent a kayak, SUP, canoe or paddle boat and explore the water. Or sit in the sand and enjoy the beaches.

Free Tai Chi classes will be offered Wednesday and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. at the Quaker Bathhouse. Register by calling (716) 354-2182.

Quaker Lake will also be the site for the annual Rock the Park celebration on July 21, with live music by Jess Chizuk and Playing with Monsters and local vendors.

The annual Beach Party will be held at Quaker Beach on Aug. 18, with music by Keith James and Sean Patrick McGraw and Kevin McCarthy, as well as face paitning, kids’ activities and fireworks.

Enjoy free outdoor movies at the Quaker General Store several nights a week. Pick up the schedule at either rental office inside the park.

Of course, if it’s less scheduling you’re after, take your pick from miles of scenic hiking trails on varying terrain throughout the park. Climb Thunder Rocks, explore Little Ireland, visit the Fire Tower, go fishing in Science, Red House or Quaker Lakes, or grab a bite on the patio of the Park Restaurant.

ASP is a haven for outdoor summertime fun. And since it’s just a short drive away, why not plan a trip or two or 10 there this summer? You won’t regret it!