Drenched in WWII history and located on the east shore of Seneca Lake, Sampson State Park is a must for RV travellers who are water lovers and history buffs. During World War II, the site was the location of the Sampson Naval Training Station. It was also used in the Korean War (known then as the Sampson Air Force Base) where it provided basic training to troops. Once the area was declared surplus to requirements it was purchased in 1960 by the New York State Council of Parks and opened shortly thereafter.
Sampson State Park is known for having an amazing view and some of the very best sunsets over Seneca Lake. The park now also has a military museum, a sandy swimming beach on Seneca Lake, boat launches, and a marina with over 100 boat slips. Recreational activities are aplenty and include tennis, basketball, volleyball, swimming, a scenic lake trail, hunting, biking, hiking and geocaching.
RV Camping at Sampson State Park is very popular during the summer. There are 309 campsites with 245 30 amp electric and 64 non-electric sites. The campgrounds can accommodate RV's up to 40 feet in length and the surfaces vary from gravel, paved or grass. The park is open all year round, however camping closes for the winter at the start of November.
RV Rentals in Sampson State Park
Transportation in Sampson State Park
Sampson State Park is located on Route 96A. The closest major town is Geneva, which lies around 11 miles south. The park is very accessible but the roads in the park itself may be icy during the wintertime, depending on the weather. The terrain leading to the park is mostly flat and you will be able to take major service roads to the park no matter what location you come from.
From Geneva: Make your way onto Highway 20 East and continue for around two miles. Turn right onto NY-96A South and follow this for around 12 miles. The park will be on your right hand side, so turn right into Sampson State Park. The park office will be on your left.
If you are driving from Syracuse: Take the I-90 West for around 41 miles. This is a toll road but it is the fastest way to get to the park. When you see signs for NY-414 South, keep right at the fork and take this road. It will loop around and you will keep driving for around four miles on this road. After driving over Water Falls Bridge, make a right onto River Road and a quick left onto Bauer Road. Keep going for one and a half miles and turn right to Country House Road. Take a left to NY-96 South for five miles and turn right to NY-336 West. Turn left onto NY-96A South and the park will be on the right.
During the summertime parking can be limited around the lake due to it being a popular swimming spot.
Campgrounds and parking in Sampson State Park
Campsites in Sampson State Park
Sampson State Park
The camping ground at Sampson State Park is huge! There are six different loops in total that are all within the same campground. The majority of the sites 309 campsites are electric with 30 amp connections available. If you want to get off grid there are also 64 non-electric sites available. Each of the six loops contain a toilet block and showers, a water collection point and two dump stations can be found at the entrance to the campground.
Other amenities in the campground include picnic areas, a swimming beach, boat launch, public telephone, playground and disabled camping access. Pets are allowed at all camp sites if they are leashed and you should have no trouble finding phone reception in the campground. There are concessions available at the park office, but a grocery store is located less than 10 miles away if you need to pick up more supplies. Reservations can be made up to nine months in advance. The campgrounds will be closed at the start of November until the middle of April.
Seasonal activities in Sampson State Park
There is a small swimming beach in Sampson State Park that is located next to the playground. The beach features lifeguards during the summertime and it is the most popular place to swim on the lake. The beach is sandy and the water level varies from shallow to deep as you start to wade further out into the lake. The swimming season in the park begins during the middle of June and continues until Labor Day.
A great activity for all ages is to visit the museum! The Military Museum was built to showcase to the history of the Naval and Air Force Bases that once occupied the state park. Inside the museum you will find artefacts and displays that showcase what used to happen at the old bases. The museum is run by volunteer Air Force and Navy veterans and the hours are dependent on volunteer support. It's opening hours vary, but if you are in the park from May until September it will be open for you to enjoy.
Seneca Lake is a great sport to get out on the water and do some boating. You are allowed to use both motorized and non-motorized boats on the lake and there is also a pump out station for powerboats. The marina at Sampson State Park has just over 100 boat slips and multiple large ramp launch sites. The marina is open from early April until mid-October. Boat rentals are also available when the marina is open for business in season.
Hunting is allowed at Sampson State Park during the specific hunting season. You are allowed to hunt deer, duck, Canadian geese, turkey, snow geese and brant. A separate special park permit is required for all hunting at Sampson State Park. You must also wear a blaze orange hat or vest if you are hunting during the five-day shotgun hunt or late muzzleloader season. Portable tree stands are allowed within the park but they must have the owner’s name, address and phone number and be removed at the end of the season.
There are some great opportunities in Sampson to do some birdwatching. The lake, trails and woodland of the park attract a variety of different birds all year round. If you are on the trails keep a lookout for birds such as blue jays, red-winged blackbird, northern cardinal, downy woodpecker and the eastern bluebird. Other larger birds that are known to call the park home include wild turkeys, Canada goose, ospreys and turkey vultures. If you look to the sky you may even be able to see a red-tailed hawk!
If you want to do some hiking in Sampson State Park you are in luck! There are two different trails for you to explore. We recommend the Lake Shore Trail, also known as Sampson Lake Trail. At around two miles long, the trail follows the old Lake Round and runs parallel to the shore of the lake. There are benches along the trail if you want to take a break and soak in the surroundings.