Surrounded by awesome views of Green Lake and Round Lake, Green Lakes State Park is a wildlife paradise, featuring 1,955 acres of large old-growth forest, a gorge that highlights the unusual upstate geology, and beautiful hills. Located just east of Syracuse, New York in the town of Manlius, Green Lakes is a great spot for your family RV vacation. You and the family will have tons of choices for outdoor recreation in a jaw-dropping landscape. From golfing and hiking to boating and birding, Green Lakes State Park offers a plethora of outdoor adventures.
The amazing scenery of the lakes at Green Lakes State Park is remarkable, with each of them having an unusual blue-greenish color. You will enjoy taking in the trees that make up the forest at the park, including sugar maples, beech, tulip trees, hemlocks, and white cedars. With over 170 different species of birds seen in the park, you will have a spectacular time if you’re a bird enthusiast.
History buffs will love learning about the construction of the park's roads, buildings, golf course, and trails. Once you park your camper at Green Lakes State Park you can head out to one of the numerous nature trails throughout the park. For birdwatchers, the area is a Bird Conservation Area. Green Lakes State Park is a wonderful vacation spot whatever time of the year you visit.
Green Lakes State Park is easy to find due to its location just east of Syracuse, off of NY-290. You can reach NY-290 by way of I-90, I-481, or NY-5. If you are a history buff, stop by Old Erie Canal State Historic Park just four miles to the southwest. This park has 36 miles of shoreline where you can explore remnants of days gone by. Additionally, Clark Reservation State Park is just 10 miles to the southwest in Onondaga County where you can see a glacial plunge basin lake and learn the history behind its construction.
Park roads will take you everywhere you need to go inside Green Lakes State Park from the park office and nature center to the camp store and campgrounds. There are no restrictions for driving your RV or trailer in the park, so getting around will be easy, whether you are in another vehicle or your rig. With several large trails that cover the entire area of Green Lake, so walking is not an issue between the beach, boathouse, and bathhouse areas.
There are numerous choices for parking your rig or motorhome, with eight parking areas throughout the park, as well as parking at the nature center and hiking trails. Of course, parking is available at the campgrounds if you are staying the night.
With 72 campsites that have both water and 50-amp electric hookups, Pinewoods Campground is the most popular spot for RVers in the park. Campsites one through 30 also have sewer hookups. For those that don’t, there is an RV dump station just a short distance from the campground where you can dispose of your wastewater. Sites at this campground can accommodate rigs from 40 to 60 feet long. You can make reservations up to nine months in advance, and pets are welcome.
Even though you have utilities, the park provides two comfort stations at Pinewoods with running water, flush toilets, and showers. There is also a large playground for the kiddos in the middle of the camp. Since cell service is spotty at best, there is also a payphone you can use by the comfort station. You’ll be right by both lakes and within walking distance to the swimming beach so bring your sunscreen and towels. However, pets are not allowed on the beach, so leave Fluffy with someone at the RV when you go.
Rolling Hills has 70 primitive campsites that can accommodate rigs and trailers between 20 and 40 feet in length. Although there are no utilities at these sites, you are within walking distance of a comfort station that has modern restrooms with running water and hot showers. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring as well. There is also a fun playground in the middle of the campground to keep the kids occupied while you relax by the campfire.
Round Lake is within walking distance of all of these sites so you will not have far to go to enjoy some fishing or splashing in the water. However, if you want to hit the swimming beach, you have to head up the road past Pinewoods Campground to the north end of Green Lake. Pets are allowed at the park and campgrounds but not at the beach, so your furbaby needs to stay with someone at the camp while you swim. You can (and should) reserve your spot up to nine months in advance.
If you want to get out of the motorhome for a while or if the weather is bad enough to make you want to head indoors, check out Green Lakes State Park’s cabins. There are seven spacious cabins to choose from, which can each accommodate four people. You can even bring your furbaby, but you must supervise them and clean up after them while you are here. With three large rooms including a kitchen, living room, and bedroom with one full-sized bed and two twin beds, you will have plenty of room to relax and enjoy your vacation.
You will be able to cook on the electric stove and keep your food and beverages cold in the fridge provided. You’ll also have a full bathroom, dining table and chairs, a screened porch, and a fireplace in case it gets cold. Outside you can find a fire ring with a grill for cooking and a large picnic table in case you want to have a meal outside. No matter which cabin you get, you will be just a short walk from both Round Lake and Green Lake as well as a playground for the kids. Reservations are required, and you can make them up to nine months in advance.
This park is home to 170 different types of birds, so you want to make sure the binoculars are within arm’s reach in your motorhome. A few of the many birds you can see include kinglets, pipits, sparrows, and woodpeckers. Swans, ducks, and geese are popular around the lake areas. For an excellent chance to see your favorite bird, the Bird Conservation Area encompasses Round Lake, extending to the western region and continuing along the park boundary and Erie Canal Towpath, then cutting back by the reservoir. The grasslands within the Bird Conservation Area is the largest concentration of grassland habitat in the New York Park System. Pack your camera in the rig so you can get some good pictures to share on social media.
Make sure you get a bike rack and hook it to your RV or car because Green Lakes State Park is an amazing place to bring your bike and head out on the trails. The Deer Run Trail is a 2.5-mile scenic loop that takes you through lush old-growth forest. If you want an easy, yet picturesque route, cycle on the Round Lake Trail, which offers stunning lakeside views during the entire ride.
Don’t forget to pack the best pair of hiking boots in your motorhome since there is an incredibly extensive network of trails all along the park, ranging from a half-mile to 2.5 miles. For an easy hike or stroll, take the two-mile Rolling Hills Trail. You will start your adventure at the nature center and explore the vast number of trees Green Lakes State Park has to offer. If you are more adventurous and do not mind exploring undeveloped areas, consider the 2.5-mile Deer Run Trail in the western area.
Have a desire to go out onto the water during your RV adventure at Green Lake State Park? With weather permitting, there are rowboat and kayak rentals available for your recreational enjoyment from Memorial Day to Labor Day at the Boat House. However, you will need to keep your privately owned boat sitting on its trailer due to the sensitive nature of Green Lake and Round Lake. This also means any outside or private kayaks or canoes are also prohibited in these New York lakes as well.
Green Lakes State Park has a small nature center should you be interested in learning more about the area. Throughout the year, the center hosts activities that could range from learning about the area birds to the magnificent colors of Round Lake and Green Lake. Located in the Pinewood camping area, and open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the nature center is definitely a stop you should consider while exploring Green Lakes State Park.
Should rays of sunshine and drops of water be what you are seeking, make sure that your swimsuit is in your RV because Green Lakes State Park has a popular sandy swimming beach. After you have taken a dip in the cool water, head to the lawns for sunbathing. You do not need to worry about changing prior to coming to the beach since you can utilize one of the changing facilities located nearby. There is also a concession stand should you need a bite to eat or drink.