By Alicia Dziak
The weather has finally warmed up and it’s time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Camping season is here, and whether you prefer a tent, a camper, a cabin, roughing it, or something chock full of amenities, there’s something for everyone in the area’s numerous campgrounds.
Are you the type who likes to be one with the outdoors? Sleep in a tent and cook all your meals over the campfire? The Enchanted Mountains region has so much to offer you.
Numerous campgrounds offer dozens of campsites lakeside, creekside, deep in the woods, or in an open space next to a bunch of your friends. Check out websites to see maps of your favorites, call and describe what kind of site you’re looking for, or better yet, plan a quick visit ahead of time to pick the site that best meets your needs.
“Glamping” is a term and activity that has been gaining popularity the past few years. It’s short for “glamorous camping,” and usually involves upscale tents or premium cabins with running water, electricity and other amenities. If having your own bathroom and a floor under your feet are more your speed, glamping may be for you. Many campgrounds offer upscale cabins, and some places, such as Franklinville’s The Woods at Bear Creek, offer the traditional “glamping” tents, with tent-like sides and ceilings, but with floors and furniture inside.
If you want something between bare bones camping and glamping, rustic cabins give you that option. Many campgrounds offer cabins with or without electricity, some with a fridge and stove, and some that require you to pack your perishables in a cooler. At Allegany State Park alone, there are hundreds of cabins, ranging from non-electrified, one-room cabins with outhouses along the trail, to electrified, three-room cabins with kitchens and large bathhouses on the trail.
You might decide to give something new a try. If you’re used to having all the amenities, why not see how it goes using lanterns and flashlights for a couple nights in place of overhead lights? Meal planning with a camping stove or grilling tripod and a cooler is different than stocking a roomy fridge with prepared salads, but the challenge can be fun and makes for a special sense of accomplishment at the trip’s end.
Outdoor activities go hand in hand with camping. Many campgrounds offer large lakes or small ponds to enjoy fishing, and many even offer boat rentals.
If swimming is your thing, there is no shortage of great places to get your swim on. Allegany State Park offers beaches at two of its lakes. Other campgrounds, such as Pope Haven in Randolph, and Hidden Valley Campground in Kiantone, offers guests heated swimming pools.
Are you the active type that likes the challenge of a good hike? Many local campgrounds boast miles of hiking trails, either within the campground or bordering it. For example, Hardwood Haven, in Franklinville, borders Bush Hill State Forest, giving guests access to “bonus” wilderness. If hiking is important to you, check with the campground ahead of time to find out about the terrain and how many miles of trails they have.
Do you like to be constantly busy with games and other activities? It’s easy when the campground offers built-in entertainment, such as horseshoes, frisbee golf, mini golf, arcade games, or arts and crafts. Many campgrounds are family-owned and family-focused, which means loads of activities are always available for both kids and adults.
With so many options, you’ll have no problem finding exactly what you’re looking for. A little planning goes a long way!
Camping is an activity that brings people together. Unplug, enjoy the outdoors and catch up with family and friends around the campfire — no matter how you like to camp, the memories you’ll make will last a lifetime!
For more information on local campgrounds, check out the Ellicottville Times campground listing on page 8.