At the southern tip of Seneca Lake sits an automotive race track like no other. From the stunning surroundings that lure travelers to the area every year to the premier racing events, what’s not to like?
Watkins Glen International, or The Glen, is a race track at 2790 County Route 16, Watkins Glen in New York that has formed an integral part of New York’s history since 1956. It hosted the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix for two decades and is well known for NASCAR, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championships, and more. There’s very little this race track doesn’t or hasn’t hosted. It could also host you.
This racing facility offers an expansive camping area that brings thousands of RV travelers every year. While you have to remain self-contained, it can be an exciting overnight adventure as you make your way around New York.
When you aren’t catching the latest racing action, of which there is plenty, you can be exploring the surrounding village and townships. Watkins Glen State Park, Seneca Lake, or Hoon Hollow State Forest, and many other natural attractions are worthy of a photo or two while you’re in the area. If you’re in need of a vacation, let Watkins Glen deliver on all fronts.
Ticket pricing and structures can depend on which event you are attending. Some tickets are in hot demand, so you have to be in quick. Tickets are available for purchase on the website for general admission, travel packages, camping, VIP, and more. Purchasing your tickets well in advance can reduce your risk of missing out on Watkins Glen International activities.
Watkins Glen International is three miles south of the Watkins Glen village. You can access the racing facility just west of State Route 14. Many state highways link surrounding townships and cities to Watkins Glen, making it a pleasant journey for RV travelers.
Even though navigation to the area is effortless, you may like to download a traffic app such as 511NY to remain up to date with congestion (which is common during race weekends), any accidents, adverse weather conditions, or road works.
If you don’t intend on staying at Watkins Glen International overnight, then you can use the daytime parking lot outside the admission gates. Allow a parking attendant to guide you to the best place for your RV. For those who are camping overnight, make sure you have your ticket ready and your RV accessible for security to search upon entry to any of the camping areas.
If you’d prefer not to move your big rig around the countryside during your trip to Watkins Glen, then the best modes of public transportation are taxis and private ride service providers. These options may be limited but are going to be more accessible than other options. You can then leave your RV at your campsite and travel lightly without the hassle of parking. Once you’re at the race track, a shuttle can take over.
Onsite camping is plentiful at Watkins Glen International, with various camping sites dotted around the track and outskirts. All areas are set up for dry campers only, so you will need to prepare yourself for camping off the grid. You can bring your generator and pets on a leash, and there are showers at convenient points around the track. When it comes time to feed the troops, you can make use of your onboard RV kitchen appliances.
If you decide not to camp at Watkins Glen International overnight, then you won’t have to travel too far to get back to all the action. Within an 11-mile radius, there are plenty of campgrounds and RV parks to cater to your every need. Some promote dry camping, while others have service hookups and other conveniences. Book weeks, if not months, in advance to increase your chances of getting your first pick.
Different transportation options are available at the race track, depending on the event. Sometimes there are shuttle buses to take you to and from the camping areas, and a pay-per-ride golf cart taxi can provide welcome relief for your legs as well.
If you’re savvy on two wheels, then be on the lookout for pay-per-use bicycles. The Watkins Glen International app can identify pick-up and drop-off points for these. This app is helpful for navigation of the grounds to find restrooms, places to eat, the main gates, and entertainment.
What you pack can depend on the time of year you visit New York. The weather is beautiful during May and through to September, but nights can be cold. Pack a mixture of warm and cool clothing that you can add to or set aside when not needed. Breathable footwear and extra blankets are must-have essentials in your suitcase, too.
You won’t want to pack light on your trip to Watkins Glen International, for there are no service hookups. Bring all your camping and cooking equipment so that you can camp off the grid with no problems. Once you’re in the grounds, travel light for there are many prohibited items.
Drugs, weapons, fireworks, motorbikes, large tents and awnings, water guns, and drones are all prohibited. Due to possession scanning in the grandstands, bring only what you need, such as water, earplugs, and your wallet. ATMs are available for cash withdrawal.
Watkins Glen International has many health and safety procedures in place to keep patrons safe. However, on your travels in the area, you may like to carry a first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray, and any medical supplies you may require, such as prescription medication. Anything that you can’t replace conveniently is worth having aboard your RV. Don't forget to include your choice of ear protection for use at the track.
If you camp at the race track, you can cook up a storm with the use of your RV kitchen appliances, and use a generator during specific hours. In case you run low on supplies, it may also be helpful to know that there’s a grocery store in Watkins Glen around five miles from the track. Here, you are likely to pick up both camping and cooking equipment if you need it as well.
If traditional race track food doesn’t appeal, then a quick trip into Watkins Glen may be in the cards. This village offers a range of fast food outlets and stunning eateries along the pier. You’d be amazed at the delicious food on offer for the whole family in this quaint village.
Food stands are available in various locations around the track, with a range of goods to satisfy your hunger and thirst. Withdraw cash at one of the many ATMs to ensure you have the correct payment type. You can then purchase burgers, fries, sweet treats, and more. You’ll never go hungry, that’s for sure. Guests can also purchase merchandise for every member of the family to remember the visit.
Watkins Glen International runs a tight ship with security, from RV entry through to grandstand access. All bags and vehicles may be checked at any time, and all guests who enter the grandstands will be searched and scanned. You can speed up the process by packing light and removing loose items for security officials to sight.
Temperatures average between the 70s and 80s during some of the most significant events of the year, but they do tend to plummet overnight. With no service hookups to access power, you have to make sure you pack plenty of blankets to keep you warm and have a way to run your heaters or air conditioning overnight. Take care on the roads and pay attention to weather apps to ensure you know what you’ll need to contend with on your travels.
While the nearest hospital is only 23 miles away from the race track, you will be pleased to know medical assistance is on hand at Watkins Glen International as well. The Infield Care Center is open 24 hours, which you can find at the corner of Finger Lakes and Tompkins roads. If you require assistance, wave down a security guard or sheriff deputy. Mobile medical teams may also be available.