Located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario is the RV paradise known as Hamlin Beach State Park, an area as rich in history as it is in recreation. Hamlin Beach State Park is a fascinating place to visit due to what has occurred at the site in past decades. The park was initially established in 1938, but it wasn't known for attracting tourists during those days. In fact, from 1944 to 1946, German POWs were housed at the park in the buildings that the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) used while establishing the park. The CCC constructed most of the buildings in the park; however, most people now visit the park for the exceptional views of Lake Ontario and excellent fishing and swimming opportunities.
Hamlin Beach State Park offers RV visitors unique natural attractions like the Devil's Nose, which is a beautiful tree-covered bluff. Visiting the park is more than just a day at the beach, getting to experience and explore the unique ecosystem can be a surreal experience for any nature lover. Visitors to the park can also enjoy hiking, biking, boating, interpretive programs, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
It's hard to go wrong when it comes to choosing what to do at Hamlin Beach State Park, whether this is your first trip or you are an experienced RV traveler. With over 250 RV-friendly campsites, nothing is holding you back from enjoying all that the park has to offer. Hamlin Beach State Park is open year-round.
Hamlin Beach State Park is located just 25 miles west of Rochester, New York, and is fairly easy to locate. It isn't out in the boonies or off of some small dirt road; it is located just off of the Lake Ontario State Parkway, which is very well-known in the area. The roads within the park are paved, although some of them are winding, leading many overnight visitors to choose to tow an extra vehicle. If you take advantage of this option, you'll probably find it easier to get around and find parking. During the wintertime, expect plenty of snow since this park is in upstate New York, so you must be prepared for this type of weather.
There are plenty of areas to park around the park, but not necessarily right by what you want to see. For example, you'll have to hike or bike a good way to see Devil's Nose. You have to pay to tow an extra vehicle, but you can park it at your campsite since each site allows two vehicles. You can always hook up the trusty bike rack to your RV and bike your way around Hamlin Beach State Park. The trails and roads both allow biking, so you can get in a little cardio without totally wearing yourself out. Not to mention, it's faster than walking everywhere.
For RV lovers who want to stay at the park, there is one campground across from the beach that has everything you need to enjoy a visit. The campground has over 250 sites to choose from, all of which come equipped with electric hookups. Water spigots are interspersed throughout the campground to make up for the lack of water hookups, and a dump station is located along Camp Road for your convenience. You will also be able to use use a picnic table and fire ring as they are provided at each of the sites.
The campground is split up into six medium-sized loops, half of which allow pets. The campground itself is just a short walk from the beach and an even shorter drive. Most of the sites will accommodate RVs up to 40 feet long, but some are only suitable for rigs that are 30 feet. Make sure that you book a site suitable for your RV size before your arrival. Just in case you forgot to pack some of the essentials in your RV, there is also a camp store located in C-Loop so you can restock. Hamlin Beach State Park Campground is open from May to September or October.
For RV travelers who are looking specifically for first-come, first-served basis camping, you may want to consider other options. While the main campground does assign sites to campers who don't have a reservation on the day of arrival, there is no guarantee that there will be many sites available since this is a very popular campground. For this reason, we recommend that you make a reservation to ensure you have a campsite that can fit your equipment.
History buffs will love making their way along the CCC Self-Guided tour. This exciting activity that is located within the park takes you through the barracks that once housed the CCC workers and, later, POWs. Posts are placed along the tour to mark areas of significance, interest, or historical importance, such as small trinkets or artifacts that have remained. Of course, you don't have to do the tour during the off-season, but there's likely to be less crowded during these months, giving you more time to bask in the history and importance of the area.
Even though camping at Hamlin Beach State Park isn't allowed during the winter, there is still plenty to do at the park. Being located along a lake means the area experiences heavy snowfall, which, as a result, makes the hiking and biking trails ideal for cross-country skiing. You can glide along the trails while taking in your snow-covered surroundings, or you can search to find the winter wave of wildlife in the park. Snowmobiling is also allowed during the winter, but you have to have your own snowmobile and the right license to use it. Make sure you bring your own equipment (or rent it privately) as there are no guarantees you will be able to do so at the park.
Hamlin Beach State Park is a recognized Important Bird Area, so its the perfect place for any bird lover to see some cool and uncommon birds. Common avian species at the park include the bank swallow, green heron, great blue heron, red-headed woodpecker, and other marsh-nesting birds, as well as more uncommon species such as the least bittern. Whether you're new to bird-watching or a more seasoned watcher, don't forget to pack your binoculars in your RV.
Although the beach is the most popular area of Hamlin Beach State Park, there are some other great spots perfect for wildlife viewing. We recommend checking out the Yanty Marsh area on the other side of the nature trail if you are interested in spotting some wildlife. There are some great observation decks that you can use to try spot animals such as turtles, amphibians, and of course, migrating and nesting birds. Be sure to ask a park ranger about their favorite wildlife viewing spot, and they might offer you suggestions of other great places for you to check out!
Whether you bring your own boat or rent one before arriving, you can't leave the park without boating on Lake Ontario. Both kayaks and canoes are allowed on the lake, and various launch options are available. Venturing out onto the lake will enable you to get unparalleled and unobscured views of one of the five Great Lakes. Not only is lake gorgeous, but it's also relaxing and grounding for many visitors, reminding you of your small size.
During your RV trip, hiking in Hamlin Beach State Park is one of the best ways to see the various landscapes and all the wildlife that inhabits the area. Luckily for visitors, six miles of hiking and biking trails are available in the park. A favorite of many visitors is the trail along the shore of Lake Ontario. It starts at the east end of the park by one of the boat launches and continues all the way down to the Devil's Nose.
There are multiple bodies of water within the park, but not all of them allow fishing. However, some areas, like Howden Pond, do allow fishing, so be sure to bring your rods. Fishers can cast their line out and see what nibbles, usually it's black bass and bluegill, but it's also a popular area for trout and salmon, so who knows what you might snag. If nothing bites, you at least got a spend an afternoon along the scenic lake and see a fair share of beavers, herons, and frogs.
Another great summertime activity at Hamlin Beach State Park is packing a lunch and enjoying the picnic facilities available. There are five different shelters open for you to choose from that are all located right near the beach areas along Lake Ontario. Each of the shelters is well equipped with picnic tables, and the shelters can be rented during the peak season when the sun is shining. For those who want to have a picnic and also go for a dip, we recommend either shelter three or four as they are near the guarded swimming beach.